WanderPony

Could a traditionally-animated film be successful?

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I'm sure the majority of you already know about the decline of traditional animation here in the US.

 

Disney infamously shut down their 2D animation department after The Princess and the Frog and Winnie the Pooh weren't as successful as they wanted. Many executives think that 2D animation is dead and that people are no longer interested in it (which can't be true, because Studio Ghibli films continue to be successful over here).

 

So, how come those films weren't successful? Here's my theories.

 

Competition

This is the most well-accepted one. TPatF was released in competition with James Cameron's Avatar, and Pooh was released on the same day as the last Harry Potter film! If these films were released at a good time, without competition with other big films, they may have been more successful.

 

Lack of advertising

This has caused many well-received films to bomb in the past, like The Iron Giant. Rule of thumb: if you want your film to be a success, you'd better market the HECK out of it.

 

Not the kind of films people want to watch

This is an underrated theory, IMO. I remember when TPatF was released, I was at the "Disney princesses are stupid and gay" age, which is why I didn't go to see it. I'm sure there were a handful of people who didn't see the film for the same reason. This is why films like Tangled and Frozen were marketed as comedy films. This marketing campaign caused a lot of backlash, but the films were successful nonetheless. I wonder if Tangled or Frozen would have made as much money if they were traditionally-animated, but still marketed the same. (Note that films like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast were successful when they were first released, but that was before the Disney Princess franchise was established.)

 

Similarly, there's Winnie the Pooh. Yes, there's a lot of adults who still enjoy the franchise out of nostalgia, but the majority probably associate it with purely kiddy fodder.

 

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So, do YOU think a traditionally animated film could be successful in this day and age with the right marketing? There are plenty of animators trying to revive the medium (like Don Bluth with his Dragon's Lair movie), and I'm hoping at least one of them will be a big enough hit to do so.

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We are getting the MLP movie next year. As far as I know, it's 2D just like the show (even if they are swapping out Flash for ToonBoom Studio), so I guess we'll see how it flies.

Since about 2010, we've had some pretty awesome cartoons come out on the small screen in 2D. Tapping the fanbases for those and allowing their creators to tell the story they want to tell should give them a chance at the box office. I mean, just imagine how the Internet would explode if there was, say, a Steven Universe or Adventure Time movie that was on par with the best of their respective series. It'd spill out into the more mainstream audiences.

I also think timing of the release would be important. We've got big name summer blockbusters scheduled out for years at this point, and I don't think we're in a spot culturally for animated movies to really be able to play with them (outside of huge Disney/Pixar things). I think a spring or autumn release would be optimal (especially since it seems like Star Wars is taking over December).

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Traditional doesn't just mean 2-D, though. It usually implies that a large amount of the animation is drawn frame-by-frame rather than using puppets. Toonboom still emphasizes puppets being rigged up to produce animated characters.

This is still used heavily in the production process for some feature films; Frozen actually had a fairly complete traditional version to inform the CGI final production. Think of it as a much more nuanced and elaborate storyboard/animatic.

 

I'm fairly confident that a traditionally animated film could be successful. But I'm not one of those guys clinging to the idea that it's going to make a big comeback. It will be used more like a gimmick, the same way black and white is used in film and photography today. A deliberate, stylistic choice made to invoke a certain kind of feeling in the audience.

CGI has evolved and the tools to make it work well with typical Western-style animation and "cartooning" are already in place. It's going to be cheaper than having an army of animators drawing things by hand anymore.

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You could still draw your assets by hand and animate similarly to more traditional methods with Flash and still come out ahead of manual animation in terms of cost and manpower since the reuse of assets would become trivial. 

I really don't see manual animation being used anymore since you can just replicate the look and feel in Flash without needing to manually draw roughly 1500 images for every minute or so of animation (and that's assuming 24fps, not 30). 

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Weren't the two Disney films I mentioned animated in ToonBoom?

 

According to Wikipedia (though I'm not sure if this is true or not), films like Cats Don't DanceQuest For CamelotThe Iron Giant, Titan AE, and Osmosis Jones were also animated in ToonBoom as well.

 

All of the films mentioned above have REALLY good animation.

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1 minute ago, crazytwilight said:

problem with the old style animation is it costs a lot to pay people to draw all those cels

That's why a lot of traditional animation nowadays is done on a computer, as you can see with James Lopez's Hullabaloo project.

 

That project has the same kind of look as the Disney Renaissance films, but with a more modern technique.

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Alright, so it seems a lot of people are talking about the TECHNIQUE of the animation, instead of whether or not it would be successful.

 

As I mentioned above, a lot of traditional animation nowadays is done on a computer as opposed to all being drawn, and a lot of works done this way (like TPatF) still manage to resemble older Disney films.

 

So, the question is, do you think a film animated that way would be a big enough hit if marketed properly?

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I don't think it's about the animation style, more or less if it's an interesting movie. It could easily be a hit or a flop, but it's more of a combined effort with the animation, writing, music and dialogue.

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2 hours ago, Nile Komnenos said:

I don't think it's about the animation style, more or less if it's an interesting movie. It could easily be a hit or a flop, but it's more of a combined effort with the animation, writing, music and dialogue.

Thing is, it being a good movie doesn't necessarily decide whether it's a success at the box office.

 

The Iron Giant and the more recent Kubo and the Two Strings bombed at the box office, despite getting fantastic reviews. Meanwhile, the live-action Transformers films continue to be hits.

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Another thing I should mention is that I don't buy the "it's too expensive" excuse for not making traditionally-animated films. The reason being is because I checked Wikipedia, and I found that the most expensive animated films (which consists of stuff like Tangled and Toy Story 3) were all CG films, while the rare traditionally-animated films cost a lot less to make. (PatF cost 105 million and Winnie the Pooh cost 30 million.)

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Sorry to revive an old thread, but here's an example of how tradigital animation (2D animation on a computer) can replicate the classic look really well.

 

 

This user has made a whole bunch of other animations (and pencil tests) that all look very good, using TV Paint. Do you think a feature film in this style could be a box office success if marketed properly?

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