ago, the film Ice Age shattered the 3 day opening weekend
box office records for March. Ice Age took in 47.9 million
dollars, beating the previous March champ, Liar Liar, that
brought in 31 million in 1997. Now there were a few mitigating
circumstances, including a great ad campaign and the first
full trailer for the new Star Wars film, but the fact remains
that Ice Age shocked everyone with such a strong beginning...everyone
except the Beefboy.
The last few
years we've slowly seen the baton pass from Disney's old
fashioned hand drawn animation style to the new digital
style animation favored by Fox and Dreamworks. Are we seeing
the end of hand drawn animation? Sit back, relax, enjoy,
and let the Beefboy do, what the Beefboy does best...and
that's break it right on down for you.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire only gained an anemic $84 million
in 2001 (it cost $90 million to produce), it's direct competitors,
Shrek and Monsters Inc., managed to bring in box office
at number 3 and 4, respectively, for the entire year (only
surpassed by Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings). Shrek
and Monsters Inc. represent the vanguard of digital cinematic
animation, the type of animation that was pioneered by the
boys at Pixar, who made Toy Story seven years ago. Ever
since Toy Story's release in 1995, Disney has given us a
string of hand drawn animated movies that have successively
performed poorly. Fox abandoned hand drawn cel animation
after its release of Titan A. E. in 2000, which shut down
a whole production studio and threatened to end Fox's bid
for the animation market, permanently.
by purchasing a small computer animation outfit called Blue
Sky Studios, who had previously done effects for commercials
and feature films (the cockroaches in Joe's Apartment).
Blue Sky, who did Ice Age, is a good example of the big
studios new strategy to create feature length animation;
find a small digital animation group and utilize their smaller,
"edgier", staff to produce this generation's animated
movies. Disney is cozy with Pixar ,who produced Monsters
Inc. and Dreamworks has contracted PDI, who gave us Shrek.
In fact almost every major studio has found their own small
digital animation company to produce new computer animated
features, meanwhile Disney has cut it's 2, 200 member staff
of cel animators in half and is looking to work with them
on a part time basis. It looks like cel animation is becoming
about as scarce as a decent male role model on the Lifetime
So, is there
hope for those of you who share the Beefboy's love (and
as you know, the Beefboy is all about love) of cel animation?
Of course! There's always hope. In fact, in a lot of ways,
the Beefboy's alternatives are far better than what has
ever been offered by local animators, it's just that you're
going to have to try harder to find these gems.
animation has been kicking the tar out of America's version
for twenty years. If you have any doubts about that, go
to your local video store and rent the film Akira and compare
it to any hand drawn Disney film you've seen lately...
Now tell the
Beefboy he's right! Let's not forget about Princess Mononoke,
which was among Roger Ebert's ten best for 1997 and Metropolis
that is currently visiting an art theater near you.
a bit of a cel animation revolution taking place at a little
cable venture called Cartoon Network. If you're not keeping
up with what's going on over there, you're missing some
of the most innovative and entertaining animation ever!
What began as a storehouse of old Hanna-Barbara 'toons has
grown into a powerhouse of a creative endeavor. Not long
ago they dipped their toes in the business of creating new
content,which led to Johnny Bravo, Dexter's Laboratory and
Space Ghost Coast-To-Coast. They followed that success with
the Power Puff Girls, which has become the most popular
cartoon on television and will be released as a major motion
picture on July 3rd. Not content to rest on it's laurels,
Cartoon Network recently premiered Samurai Jack, an episodic,action-adventure-fantasy-science-fiction-comedy
animation series that has tone, pacing and design, so unique,
that the Beefboy will forgo trying to describe it and just
suggest you check it out yourself.
So, is Disney's
hand drawn animation on the way out? Yes. But who really
needed another musical with a soundtrack from an aging rock
star and a whole slew of hackneyed literary and mythological
characters anyway? What we have, in the way of edgier, next
generation digital animation movies, is far better than
what we were getting previously. Furthermore, that leaves
cel animation to the innovators in Japan, and here, at the
Cartoon Network, who treat the genre (and us) with the respect
it deserves. See? There's hope after all.