Commentary
Year in Review 2006
Bob Miller | The year 2006 has seen the release of more animated features than any other in history, with over twenty in North America, plus more in Europe (Astérix and the Vikings; Azur and Asmar) and Asia (Tales of Earthsea). So what have we learned?
  • Animated films can compete very well against live action. Four of the top eight films at the box office were animated.
  • There is a bigger "glut" of live action films than animated films.
  • The so-far weakest Pixar film can still be popular. Cars was the second box-office draw of the year.
  • A film can be a box-office smash (Ice Age 2: The Meltdown at #6), and still not get an Annie Award nomination for Best Animated Feature.
  • The public doesn't mind photorealistic characters as long as the subject matter is appealing, as Happy Feet proved, beating even James Bond at the box office.
  • A cheaply-made independent CG film can be successful, as demonstrated by Hoodwinked (limited release December 2005, wide release 2006). A $15 million investment led to a $50 million gross. Steve Oedekirk's Barnyard achieved nearly $73 million, aided by a strong publicity campaign.
  • Celebrity voice talent doesn't necessarily sell a film. Doogal.
  • The public recognizes "Disney" is no longer a magic word for quality. The Wild.
  • Hand-drawn films can still attract audiences. Curious George earned over $58 million.
  • Business analysts consider Over the Hedge a disappointment, even though it opened with $38.5 million and achieved a worldwide gross of $330 million. Flushed Away "underperformed" at nearly $62 million. What does this mean? A film is no longer gauged by the box office, but whether it meets expectations of earnings at the box office. Whose expectations? Certainly not the general public.
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