Over on the Animation Guild Blog, Steve Hullett posted a quote the other day from an article quoting Rango director, Gore Verbinski, where he states that he would like to see more mature animated films being brought to market. Ralph doesn’t reject the notion entirely, but he does point out that studios are in the game to make profits, not movies.
This is true, but it raises the important question of whether animation intended for mature audiences is even profitable to begin with.
The article itself has Verbinksi mentioning Ralph Bakshi as a possible reference point although I say that this isn’t necessarily the best idea. If you ask anyone (in the know) about adult animation, the answers inevitably contain either Heavy Traffic, Fritz the Cat, Ghost in the Shell, Akira and perhaps that particular genre of anime that I won’t mention here.
I’d also hazard a guess that mature animation has suffered more as a result of quality than anything else. Because the main studios won’t go near it, the independents have to take up the slack, and sadly they just don’t have the resources necessary to compete on the same level.
Mature animation can be profitable, provided it’s either done cheaply enough, or it maximizes its potential when released to market. Personally, I think that if a film as superb as the Secret of Kells can be made for about €6 million, there is absolutely no reason why studios are using costs as a factor.
There is a market for these kinds of films, it just hasn’t been tapped to its full potential. That’s an opportunity for someone to explore and when they do, there’ll be plenty of profits to be had.