Is The Animation Industry Being Held Back By Legacy Players?

This is sort of a question to readers as opposed to a post, but is the animation industry being held back by existing, established, players? Consider the car industry and the fact that it wasn’t a manufacturer that made the biggest breakthrough in driverless cars, it was Google.

Is animation similarly hamstrung by studios already in business? Will real innovation come from outside it?

It’s tricky to say because even so-called innovative studios and internet efforts still rely on talent and their ideas/notions that are solidly rooted in the existing industry.

In other words, where is the animation ‘disrupter’?

9 Comments on “Is The Animation Industry Being Held Back By Legacy Players?

  1. I’d say that the problem isn’t with the studios already in business but the lack of innovation of spinoff companies and other startups. In the US there’s been an awful lot of innovation in animation mediums with little development in the media once established.
    There aren’t many studios with long histories but from those that exist, like Toei and Disney, it becomes apparent that they get caught up in preserving their own history. I don’t know the car companies’ excuse for not innovating but in the animation industry studios get caught up in their own past with rereleases of old works and reboots. There is a solution but it’s not compatible with current economics. Works past a certain age would be given to a second run studio which allows the company to be freed from their old properties and thus hopefully more forward looking. Insightful people would note that this would only be a temporary solution and that it only delays the inevitable destruction of films at some point in the future.
    Part of the problem is that films are being made for too much money and need to make their money back. Another part is cultural and relates to adults who don’t relate to animation or for that matter comics and graphic novels. There’s a mentality that just about anything involving visual pretending is part of playtime and thus for children. The biggest thing holding the industry back though is the lack of a real vision for long term storytelling. Just think about all the animated series there have been and how few have had a tight overarching storyline. Same with movies. If sequels have become normal, then why aren’t there more movie series with plots extending over more than one film?
    That’s my take. I have more reasons but I’d have to write a book if I jotted them all down.

  2. I’d say no the leacy players arn’t holding us back. Disney has been what it is for a long time changing dramatically would destroy it. Same with the other big commercial animation studios since they’re corperations making a change is just too risky for them. Excutives make the decesion in those studios not artist . It up to the little guys with nothing to lose and with all their shit belonging to them. Most independents just want to be happy making their short flims but none of them have ambitions. They want to just go about just creating their little shorts just hoping they can make enough to live off of. These other independents have their little studio where they work on other people crap hoping to get money or time to work on their own stuff. But from what I read it seldom works out that way. Then there are others trying to go to a big studio to sell their idea so they can get their movie made which fails also in good numbers . We need another walt disney is what i’m thinking. But I don’t mean we need another guy to make more animated flims base on fairy tales. I mean we need some with both creative insights and entrepreneurship to create an big animation studio that is his/her own personally . In the past and sadly still today disney was the only big animation studio not own as a fiefdom of a bigger studio. Looney Toons were own by Warner Bros, Fleschiers by Paramount and Walter Lantz by universal. But no one own Disney he was only true cartoon movie mogul in that sense. Even Jim Henson can be use as example of creative entreprenuership despite the fact he sold out to Disney. Another good example would be Titmous their the most sucessfull indie animation studio to date in my opinion. They have more than ten working there like hundreds of people in America animating which is extremely rare for tv production. Sure ended producing that shitty flash short series for dreamworks crappy snail movie. Plus they got a show can by Disney that they can’t do anything with cause they don’t own ipo. In the future I belive any new show they produce they should put on the web and find a way to make it lucrative for them. Hey it’s better than slap in the face from the people who buy a show cause it to fail then want to kept rights even know they belive it’s dud.

    • Great points ko. I think DreamWorks is currently the closest thing we have to what Walt embodied. They’re still a large, traditional studio, but they seem to be innovating much more than any other studio.

      • I gotta say, it’s so weird to hear anyone say that about Dreamworks online.
        But a lot of it is true, Dreamworks has been trying to do a whole lot of different movies, from goofy comedy, to (family friendly) action adventure. Heck even though their stock prices hinge on the success of their movies, they’re not playing safe by sticking to a single story formula. Heck, since Shrek is their most successful movie franchise, and they have no intentions of making a fifth movie or more speaks volumes. Any other studio would’ve kept churning out sequels, but at least Dreamworks is trying to do different things, and I hope they continue.

        • It’s about more than the films too. They signed a deal with Netflix for both library and new original content, they’re releasing their own hardware, and I’d bet they’re a bigger player than Disney in the technological sphere too; they have strong relationships to both HP and Intel and have been keen to push their software advances too.

          All in all, DWA is trying to diversify as fast as it can which has the positive benefit of also forcing it to innovate on a comprehensive scale.

  3. I find it interesting that so far this discussion has focused on features with little regard to other outlets for animation. I think animation has been held back but not entirely due to the fault of the “legacy” studios but the “legacy” distribution outlets. In television I can’t think of one major broadcast channel (abc, nbc, cbs) that has even tried to launch an animated series lately. Even Fox and Comedy Central seem content to keep their oldest animated sitcoms running for as long as possible with the occasional exception such as Bob’s Burgers (still basically another animated sitcom) and Archer which feels like larger budget Adult Swim show.

    My question would be what movie/tv show/webisode do you feel best exemplifies the biggest breakthru in animated content in the last 5 years or so?

    • You are very right to ask that question. No one in the tv biz or movie biz except maybe dreamworks like a lot of people said take chances. Best bet would be the web since there are no gate keepers to decide what markettble or not. Now the world wide web is open for risk taking but problem is no one taking them. All I see on youtube is crude animated comedies aim at teens and fratboys. The only good stuff on their are the odd ambitous projects,students flims and stuff from cartoon hangover like Bee And Puppycat and The Bravest Warriors. Same with adult animation on tv it’s all crude comedy . Sure you have Family guy,Simpson and south Park that have clever bittng social commentary. But that alone has not been enough to get animation to diversify . We need animation dramas that are as well written as Breaking Bad. We need animated westrens, scifi, horo ,fantasy and any other genre that hasb’t been touch in the medium. Maybe seeing animated drama written as well as Breaking bad could show networks that animated programing can be on networks othere than cartoon network.

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