Sunday, August 27, 2006

Le Deluge

That was a tougher week than I expected. Sorry for the extended silence. Things should lighten up for me after Wednesday.

I've finished my review of Amid Amidi's Cartoon Modern for fps. I'm not sure if it will appear in the next issue or in the fps blog, but the short review is that the book is excellent both as an art and history book. If you have any interest in '50's design or animation history, the book is worth owning.

Jim Hill has an interesting article about the flood of cgi animated features this year and how they're doing at the box office. It's generally not a pretty picture. There's going to be an avalanche of titles on DVD for Christmas, and what we currently see happening at the box office may be duplicated at the cash register. People's wallets hold finite amounts of cash and many of these DVDs will be passed over.

What's happened is an example of what's called emergent behavior. Lots of individuals make decisions for themselves that add up to a larger trend. In this case, producers saw how much money Pixar and DreamWorks were making and decided to go after some of it themselves. It's a kind of gold rush mentality. Somebody strikes gold and everybody converges on the area looking for their share.

The problem is that entertainment isn't like gold. There's a definite, measurable amount of gold in a given location, difficult as it may be to determine, but there isn't a definite, measurable amount of box office for any kind of movie. If the public gets tired, it's as if the gold in the ground turns to lead. Individual producers make decisions that add up to trends and so do consumers. Producers guess what the audience wants but the audience doesn't always cooperate.

When you're dealing with films that take years to create, it's easy to be late to the party. Sure, a good movie should always draw an audience, but the reality is that audience members have choices and don't always go where they're expected.

And it's also true that the time it takes to make these films may be enough for the audience to forget their boredom and be ready for more. I'm sure that Fox and Blue Sky are hoping exactly that when they announced yet another film starring cgi insects called The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. That's a title that I'm betting gets changed and we'll see if the bug reference makes it to the final title.


Steve Schnier said...

Hi Mark,
I have concerns about "The Leaf Men". I'm a big William Joyce fan but 'The Leaf Men' is a very melancholy book. I don't see how it would translate into a movie unless they made major changes to the story. It might be time for studios to find another artist/writer's work to base their movies on. The Bill Joyce well may have run dry.

Mark Mayerson said...

Hi Steve. I haven't read the book, but I'd love to see a melancholy animated feature, though I have to admit that it would probably be a tough sell at the box office.