Live-Action Movies Based on Animation

I very nearly went with Scooby Doo for the picture, but this one has Robert DeNiro in it!

Although the trend has died down somewhat, the genre just doesn’t seem to die. The Smurfs is the latest to get the treatment and although we will be treated to Hank Azaria as Gargamel, I still can’t quite look forward to it,

Although it has been common to mix animated and live-action characters (most notably in several Disney films and a scene where Jerry Mouse dances with Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh), the latest craze has been to use CGI characters.

There have been numerous releases over the last number of years and I can’t honestly remember a good one among them. People are familiar with the characters so that’s not a problem, but of all of them, the main problem seems to be the downright atrocious quality of the script or the actors hired (seriously, Daphne as a blonde???).

All of them have skewed towards the young market. Fair enough if that’s what you’re going for, great! But seriously, with the likes of Pixar churning out movies with complex, believable characters and smart, clever jokes, there really is no excuse for toilet humour.

Sure some of these movies are based on cartoons that were never great to begin with (thank you ACT) but at least they never tried to make us believe they were clever.

Of course, by aiming at kids, the adults who actually remember the cartoons when they were broadcast on TV, they are making a fortune. That’s why we got a sequel and prequel to Scooby Doo and why we’ll continue to see ever more annoying Alvin movies for years to come.

I realize that Hollywood turns out the same crap all the time, but as an animation connoisseur, I find it deplorable what has happened to some characters as they’ve been hauled out and flogged like a dead horse.

There are plenty of examples of studios being able to create interesting movies with original characters, why can’t we see the same with established characters, or do studios assume that the movies will coast on the remnants of the characters embedded in the millions of us who are familiar with them?

Sadly, it doesn’t look like the practice will die anytime soon. My advice? Spend your hard-earned money on an original movie with some depth to it.

The Competition Between Dreamworks, Pixar And Sony

CGI. It’s a format that has literally taken over the movie business ever since Toy Story burst onto the scene all the way back in 1995. Today, three companies, Pixar, Dreamworks and Sony dominate the market. How did this come to be and what does the future hold for each of them. Read on as I do a bit of crystal ball gazing.

In order to understand the status quo, a knowledge of market economics is needed. I highly recommend The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Ries and Trout. An excellent book, it outlines exactly why which companies are on top and why they will stay there.

It is important to note that Pixar was the one that started it all off in 1995 with Toy Story. An excellent film that achieved a dramatic amount of international success. It has been debated ever since its debut as to whether that success was due more to the film’s story or the animation itself, being the first feature-length film to be created entirely using computers.

The fact remains that the headstart Pixar got has enabled the studio to create and maintain a formidable market share and become a perennial nominee for Best Animated Feature Oscar.

As any entrepreneur will tell you, it is impossible to create a market and keep it all to yourself. It may have taken 3 more years, but Dreamworks got in on the act with Antz in 1997. This film also garnered substantial success and has spawned no less than four sequels! Since then, Dreamworks has strived to emulate Pixar in terms of animation quality, although Jeffrey Katzenburg apparently believes in a higher output, currently pegged at 3 every 12 months than the more relaxed schedule up the road in Emeryville.

This leaves Sony. Definitely the late bloomer among the majors, it didn’t release a feature until 2006’s Open Season. Since then, they have released two more but have remained firmly in third place behind Pixar and Dreamworks.

The point I’d like to make, is that Sony is perhaps the studio to watch over the medium term. Their breakout hit of last year, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, proved that you don’t need a better product to beat the competition, just a different one! Both Pixar and Dreamworks have gone for the straight story that’s simple enough for kids with some adult humour thrown in for good measure, but then along comes Sony with a flat-out cartoon that knocks the other films for six.

One of the 22 Immutable Laws is that eventually, every market become a two horse race, and no-one ever changes positions unless something exceptional happens. In terms of animated CGI films, this would mean that Pixar remains on top, Dreamworks behind and Sony in third place. Unless, Sony can corner the market for cartoony CGI films, in that case, Dreamworks has a lot of hard work to do.