| 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.