Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Action Animated Films: Why they don't do well

Action Animated Films: Why they don't do well

Action adventures don’t typically do well when they’re all in animation (Beowulf, Titan AE, Final Fantasy, Sinbad, Treasure Planet, etc.).

Titan AE and Treasure Planet are amazing films, and Beowulf was also pretty good (except for the whole animated corpse style).

I think it’s a matter of audience. Women control the majority of the family entertainment budget, so if it’s not desirable to them, then the family doesn’t go see it. That leaves men to go see Beowulf and Final Fantasy (which were both geared a little older than Titan AE, Sinbad, Treasure Planet, Atlantis, El Dorado, etc.). The market available for men to go see these animated films is too niche. The mass market of adult males would rather see Die Hard 4 or a movie that women also want to see (like IJ 4). Get the mommy to want to see the film, and you get the kids.

So, the kids usually want to see these action animations, especially the boys. However, the mother must then make the decision if she wants to see it and if her daughter wants to see it too.

That’s why you have a sweet 3D animated film like TMNT that makes less money than most 3D films cost (kudos to them for making it look that good on a cheap budget). Had the movie been made on the normal budget, it would have lost money.

That’s also why I think Pixar is filled with geniuses: they make whatever topic they want, but they make sure it appeals to little girls and moms, as well as boys and men. Same thing that Shrek is using to get blockbuster movie sales with.

The flip side is that market (animation for boys) does extremely well on TV. That’s the mother’s excuse: “just watch your action cartoons on TV, and we’ll rent it on DVD when it comes out.”

An example is that Bill Murray movie … what was it called… oh yes… Osmosis Jones. The movie didn’t do too well. However, the cartoon was successful, even if it only got a one-season run:

With the movie, it was difficult to see who it was marketing. Seemed to be 12 year old boys. But why would women want to see that movie? They don’t. So the boys didn’t either. The boys watched it on TV instead.

Pixar is a master at this. They can get women to see a movie about super heroes, monsters, cars, robots… anything manly they can think of.

So I don’t consider it an issue of quality. (I love Treasure Planet, Titan AE, and Atlantis, and I break them out occasionally.) It’s more an issue of business and marketing. (If the movies don’t make money, they don’t get sequels or more of their kind; Atlantis did an okay $85 million, and got a DVD sequel for its trouble.) In other words, Disney won’t do much with Treasure Planet, but they will milk Stitch pretty regularly.



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