Friday, August 15, 2003
The Murder of an Era
I'd call it the "death" of an era, but really, it's more like homicide.
This is beyond historic. It exceeds landmark status. This is the definition of failure. Those people who still mistakenly see Disney as a leader in the field of animation might say it's a sign of the times, but to those out there who know, it's merely an admission of guilt. After a decade of butchering and hacking the animated medium to a gory death, the House of Mouse has decided that "there's no money in 2D" and is going to venture into 3D.
This opinion is obviously hugely and grossly WRONG, but they've obviously seen that their 3D films (honestly, Pixar's 3D films) have been making mad money, and the 2D ones haven't, so they decide to drop 2D. The only problem with this logic is that the medium is irrelevant. People don't see Pixar movies for shiny graphics and mind-blowingly well done CG. They go for the CG; they stay for the story.
And that's where Disney has failed. Not since Beauty and the Beast have they been able to pull off a compelling story (O.K., I'll give them Emporer's New Groove). Sure, they've been pretty, but come on. Let's be honest. Treasure Planet?! Nothing more than a cheap remake of an old classic. And evidently test screenings of their most recent films have been even worse.
If 2D is truly dead, then why are you still importing Miyazaki films? If 2D is truly dead, then why am I constantly amazed by shows from Japan like FLCL or Cowboy Bebop or Big O? Why am I constantly being drawn to amazing character design and art in the 2D medium from Japan? Why did the Wachowskis decide to go with mainly 2D anime companies for their Animatrix DVD?
The answer is simple: other companies are generating strong art, concept, and story, and Disney is still rehashing old properties because they've lost the ability to innovate. Trying to say that "there's no money in 2D" because you haven't even made a half-hearted attempt at it doesn't mean it's true. Spirited Away was like, the highest grossing animated film, ever. Kinda hard to argue with that level of success for a 2D animated film in the past year.
While I feel sorry for all of my bretherin still working in the 2D animation business, I have to say good riddance to Disney. Get out of the way and let the other companies out there willing to do creative and stylish 2D epics have a go.
I'll be more than happy to give them my money.