Saturday, November 12, 2016

Deep Pool of Competitors

Old news; still worth noting:

A record 27 animated features have been submitted for consideration for the animated feature film Oscar, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Friday.

The crowded lists reflects the fact that most of the major studios are now all-in when it comes to animation, with Disney represented by Pixar's Finding Dory and Disney Animation's Zootopia and Moana; Universal/Illumination's The Secret Life of Pets and Sing; Dreamworks Animation/Fox's Kung Fu Panda 3 and Trolls and Fox/Blue Sky's Ice Age: Collision Course; Sony's The Angry Birds Movie as well as the R-rated Sausage Party; and Warner Bros.' Storks. ...

There was a time when animated features were few and far between. Disney rolled out a picture every few years. There was the occasional theatrical adaptation of a TV cartoon. And you had the infrequent independent feature.

But nobody got excited about long-form cartoons. Large studios pretty much ignored them. The smart money believed that Walt Disney Productions could make some money with the occasional offering; for every other studio on the planet animated features were minimal-profit endeavors.

Then The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King happened in rapid succession, transforming animation from a small Hollywood sideshow to a business of blockbusters. Because Hollywood is a town full of sedulous apes, it wasn't long before every movie conglomerate non-named Disney was making its own version of a Disney hand-drawn feature.

Sadly, most of the specimens made weren't particularly riveting; almost all crashed and burned shortly after launch.
And a half-dozen years after the animation boom started, it was limping to a close. Even the Disney Company wasn't turning out super hits any more.

But in the middle of this downturn, a wondrous thing happened. Pixar made a Computer Graphics animated feature named Toy Story, then another named A Bug's Life, and yet another titled Monster's Inc..

Each one made Pixar and Disney (Pixar's partner) millions upon millions of dollars, and lo! Competitors were seduced into giving animated features of the CG variety yet another try.

And this time, rival studios produced long-form cartoons that enabled them to open their own mints. Shrek was a blockbuster for indy studio DreamWorks Animation. Ice Age put Fox Animation on the map. Soon other studios jumped into the cartoon bonanza, until today, in 2016, the Motion Picture Academy will onsider a list of cartoon features longer than an orangutan's arm:

“The Angry Birds Movie”
“April and the Extraordinary World”
“Finding Dory”
“Ice Age: Collision Course”
“Kingsglaive Final Fantasy XV”
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Kung Fu Panda 3”
“The Little Prince”
“Long Way North”
“Miss Hokusai”
“Monkey King: Hero Is Back”
“Mustafa & the Magician”
“My Life as a Zucchini”
“Phantom Boy”
“The Red Turtle”
“Sausage Party”
“The Secret Life of Pets”
“25 April”
“Your Name.”

The business of animation has traveled a long way, don't you think?


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