April 02, 2004

No flat toons in the maus-haus!

Disney announced 'Home on the Range' is the "last hand-painted cartoon on Disney's current film slate."

wow. Even after dismal failures, like 'The Black Cauldron' and 'Oliver and Compay', Disney still came back to produce some of the most stunning animated features seen in generations. Hell! 'Beauty and the Beast' was even nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in 1992! But check this out... 'Beauty' banked some $25m at the box office... 'Treasure Planet' made $38m and it's considered a flop. Well, yeah! When you spend some $100m to make a movie, you expect at least $100.1m back!!

So how much money is the general public willing to spend on animation? The current animated golden child is 'Finding Nemo' which net (pun intended) some $340m at the box office ALONE. Throw in rental, DVD sales, secondary marketing-- toys, clothing, games, etc and you're looking at massive-sick money. As with any film, the gamble is how much money do you spend to make money?

Disney is known world-wide for hand-drawn animated features. They don't have to try and out-do themselves every turn. They could've pulled back production from 1 to 2 films a year to 1 every 2 years and keep costs below $20m. Gee... who'dathunk? workin' on a budget! Like the rest of us stiffs!

But Eisner has sported a mad-on to bury the animation division since he took the throne. And since Pixar declined to renew partnership productions with them (woo hoo!), Disney is on their own to try and compete with them. The worst of Pixar's films still made a huge profit and buried the best of Disney's recent attempts. My hope is Pixar provides enough competition for another legendary Disney comeback.

Until then, maybe more people will plunk their hard-earned cash down to see the fantastic new animated features from far-off lands, like France's The Triplets of Belleville, Japan's Spirited Away and Spain's forthcoming El Cid.

Posted by Lito at April 2, 2004 02:13 PM