Friday, December 13, 2013


What is Bloomberg talking about?

... All may not be ... rosy in toonland. Next year, for the first time in almost a decade, there will be no new Pixar film: The company announced it’s pushing The Good Dinosaur, originally slated for May 2014, all the way back to November 2015.

Sure. They had story issues. And when you have story issues, you stop and fix them. Would it be better if they put out a dumpy film?

(This came on the heels of the news that the film’s director, Bob Peterson, had been removed.) As a result of the delay, Pixar announced a small round of layoffs. ...

OhMyGod. Layoffs? This might come as a shock, but when sequences in production are put back into story, the animators and lighters and finalers don't have any work to do.

So the company either shifts them to another feature or hands them pink slips. (Not desirable, but the way things work.) Because studios don't want to pay animators, lighters and finalers weekly salaries to sit in their cubicles and watch YouTube. ...

And Pixar has a time-honored tradition of canning directors. Why did anyone think this would suddenly change?

That’s nothing compared with the bloodletting earlier this year at DreamWorks Animation, Pixar’s chief rival. In February the company, home of the megahit Shrek series, announced it was laying off about 350 employees from its staff of 2,200.

Things like this happen when features lose money and the cash flow isn't as robust as expected. DreamWorks Animation, after all, is not a subsidiary of one of our fine, entertainment conglomerates, but stand-alone corporation.

The goat this time was the (rare) failure of the expensive Rise of the Guardians, which the company had hoped would kick off a whole new franchise.

The problem with Guardians was: it was gorgeous, it was energetic, but the characters were distant ciphers and there was nobody to root for.

When Santa is depicted as a Rusky, and another character's death is reduced to a hokey plot device when that character comes magically back to life for no reason other than convenience, you run the risk of disaffecting your audiences.

Because there can be no tension with life and death situations when death is banished from the equation.

The company also put another film, Me and My Shadow, back into development.

The word I pick up around DWA's Glendale campus is that Shadow is pretty much kaput. (A shame. I had high hopes for it when Mark Dindal was director.)

Animation giants are feeling the heat of a more competitive marketplace. ...

Sigh. The latest media meme appears to be, holy crap! Animation is in trouble because there's just too much animation!

To which we say, in trouble how? Croods made money, Monsters University made huge amounts of money, and Despicable Me made more than MU.

And even the "failures" Epic and Turbo (sometimes referred to as the "snail and garden slug pictures") brushed up against $300 million. And Jeffrey K. said DreamWorks will lose no money on Turbo, despite the anemic domestic returns.

If this is heat, it must be healthy, life-giving heat. Even Planes was in the black.


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