Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Question: Why do some animated movies flop?

Question for the Emperor: Why do some animated movies flop?

So, first thing about animated movies is that your target audience has to be the family. The latest person to make this mistake was Robert Zemeckis, who lost a ton of money on Beowulf. Even Disney has made this mistake with Treasure Planet (Atlantis barely survived the mark).

If you want to target adults, you need to make cheap anime and release it on DVD (the expense of 3D won't get you a return; only the really popular anime can touch 3D, and, even then, it's only used for effects). If you want to target boys with action (movie mistakes include Sinbad, Treasure Planet, Final Fantasy, Titan AE, etc.) you need to get it on TV. (For example, Osmosis Jones flopped in the theater but made a successful TV cartoon.)

So, why do family animated movies do well? Women. Women won't go see action movies, especially cartoon ones. They are the ones driving what the kids see, so only the die hard moms give in and take kids to see animated action movies. On top of that, all the children (sons and daughters) want to go see Finding Nemo, but only the son wants to see TMNT. So they skip TMNT because over half the people who would have to see it are... Women. That's vital. They need to be the primary market (even if the movie is about super heroes or cars - Pixar knows this very well).

On top of that, men won't go see animated action films; they'd rather see Die Hard 4 than Beowulf.

So, if you make an animated action movie, all you're left with is boys, aged 7-19. That's a small market when the mom controls most of that money. That market is confined to the TV set.

Even flops like Ant Bully, Doogal, and Barnyard are squarely aimed at young boys. The mom has no motivation to take kids to those. Check out the poster for Ant Bully. It even looks like an action animation:

Look at all those posters above. There is no motivation for women and girls to see any of those movies based on those posters (or the movies themselves).

Read more about this here:

- The Emperor



  2. Osmosis Jones Box Office results...

    Worldwide: $14,026,418

    That's what I mean by "flop." A movie is released to make money. That one didn't. However, they made a TV show off of it (just using cartoon action) that lasted 2 seasons. So the cartoon was more successful than the film.

    The best market for the content was boys 7-9, and the best outlet for that market was as a TV cartoon. Moms control the family's movie budget, so they aren't going to take the family to see a film that they and their daughters don't want to see.

    - TAE

  3. The only reason is that most of the animated movies are made for kids.very few movies are good to watch.Specially the animated Action Movies.

  4. First off I wish to say that I am a great fan of your work, and I have followed it for quite some time. However, one area in which it seems we disagree is the potential of animated movies to successfully target audiences other than children and their families. I understand your argument, but many of my friends, who are themselves cinema-philes, do not find it convincing. For instance, animated movies aimed at audiences other than children have existed since the 1970s, with Ralph Bakshi's Fritz The Cat being the first non-Disney animated movie to gross over $100 million worldwide. Other movies in this category have included Heavy Metal, Wizards, Beavis and Butthead Do America, South Park Bigger Longer and Uncut, and most recently, The Simpsons Movie. Indeed, there is a rich pool of "adult" animated movies, a large audience who watches them, and many studios who produce them.
    However, most of these movies are comedies, not action movies or dramas. You do (correctly) mention the consecutive failures of the likes of Atlantis, Treasure Planet, and Titan A.E. as proof that animated action movies don't sell. However, that isn't entirely the case. In fact, Atlantis earned $186 million worldwide-- only "bad" compared to its $120 million budget. Had it been made for a smaller budget (say, $30 million, like Aladdin), or had it been released in the early 90s when the Disney renaissance was at its height, it might easily have found success. The same is true of Treasure Planet. Even today, Disney seems to be courting the teenage male demographic for its animated movies once again with Wreck-It Ralph.
    Often, though, bad marketing is to blame for these movies' failure, as was the case with Titan A.E. which was barely advertised at all by Fox. As for an example of a successful animated action movie? Well, there have been a few, like Antz (which launched Dreamworks Animation), Rango (which did likewise for Paramount), and The Adventures Of Tintin (which will be getting a sequel in a few years). On the flip side, there are many family-oriented animated movies that also bombed, including Happily N'ever After, most of Don Bluth's films from the 1990s, and last year's Winnie the Pooh. In other words, making an animated movie is a huge risk no matter what genre it is. There will continue to be more who want to take that risk, including the aforementioned Tintin sequel, Disney's upcoming Big Hero 6 movie, Warner Bros' adaptation of Jeff Smith's Bone comics, and Shane Acker (director of 9)'s sci-fi project Deep.Out of these, there will surely come a successful future animated action movie.
    Finally, when I went to see Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, Iron Man, Avatar and The Avengers the theaters were packed with little kids and their moms. Clearly, moms DO watch action movies.
    But remember, the punchline's not "all studios should try to make animated movies for teens and adults." It's actually "Making animated movies--and any movies--is a risk-laden endeavor and for every winner, there will be many more losers." Caveat predictor!

  5. Except Barnyard was actually a box office success. Don't believe me? Look it up. Also, you claim that Robert Zemeckis lost a lot of money on Beowulf yet you provide no supporting evidence. Furthermore, TMNT was actually a box office sucess. It's a pity the TV show deal went to Ciro Nieli and not Kevin Munroe.


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