Trouble brewing for Pixar and DreamWorks Animation?

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Disney’s Frozen did great at the box office and had a very positive reception. Even though it wasn’t number one during its opening weekend, it still pulled in over $120 million from the 5-day Thanksgiving weekend. It was the #1 movie on its second weekend, beating out The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

It wasn’t always like this for Disney’s flagship animated studio (Walt Disney Animation Studios is like a yo-yo). With Pixar and DreamWorks Animation dominating at the box office with their CG-animated films in the last decade, Disney decided to play catch-up. Critical reception wasn’t great and some of the box office earnings were moderate successes. They decided to go back to the drawing board by bringing back 2D-animated fairy tale musicals with The Princess and the Frog. It was considered a disappointment.

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With Tangled, Disney decided to bring the fairy tale musicals to the CG-animated realm. The gamble paid off, and Tangled became a huge success (grossing over $590 million worldwide) while also being loved by fans and critics. One year later, they released Wreck-It Ralph, another commercial hit and highly-praised feature.

As Walt Disney Studios climbs up the CG-animation ladder, it’s ironic to see that Pixar and DreamWorks Animation are now in a state of trouble.

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Pixar has been releasing a movie every year since Cars, but 2014 will mark the first time a Pixar movie will be absent. Even though their films are huge successes, their quality has been dipping, with films like Cars 2 being the biggest offender. The Good Dinosaur was suppose to come out in May 2014, but they had trouble with the story. Director Bob Peterson, who co-wrote Up and did the voice for Dug, was relieved from the project. Now the movie is slated for November 2015, and since it’s delayed, a small amount of Pixar employees were laid off.

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DreamWorks Animation, on the other hand, laid off a sizable chunk in Febraury. Of the 2,200 employed, 350 were cut. The main reason for this was that Rise of the Guardians greatly underperformed with $300 million. Their previous movie, Madasgascar 3, earned $740 million worldwide at the box office. The studios’ recent film, Turbo, earned less than Guardians.

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The big animation studios are also competing with newer studios like Blue Sky Studios (Ice Age, Epic), Sony Pictures Animation (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) and Illumination (Despicable Me). With Illumination’s Despicable Me 2, it cost only $76 million to make and made over $900 million worldwide (Pixar movies average around $200 million to produce). With many new contenders, they are all fighting for our dollars.

Pixar was the king, and they intend to hold on to their reputation as solid storytellers. Let’s hope that their next movie, Inside Out, will satisfy when it hits theaters on June 19, 2015. It’s always a risky move to produce a new property, but that’s where Pixar really shines.

Via SF Gate

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John Nguyen
John Nguyen 10322 posts

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