When was the last time when you thought, Hey, that 3D movie not only was great looking, it also had a really great, non-cliché ridden story?

The blog of John K about cartoons and animation in general is again and again contains really interesting stuff, which is especially true for me, since at some stage I have to animate a short movie myself. Some days ago John has published a post with some very interesting points in it. I don’t want to write about the animation part of 3D generated movies, though, since I am no animator but I want to write about the situation in general.

3D Movies and their stories

You know, John K mentions in his post that it seems that Hollywood is coming with ideas or stories some twelve year old teens could come up with. Perhaps you can’t it really call movies with stupid ideas or stories but more movies with stories that have been done to death – as the one in which main character learns that he has to be true to himself and all around him or that he can make his dreams come true. The usual stuff you see in today’s 3D flicks most of the time. Hell, even Pixar used that story device in “Ratatouille”.

The situation from the production point of view

And although I am personally tired of some of those stories with all the pop-reference galore (one more “I am you father” joke, and I go berserk!) I also understand the production studios. Why should they do it otherwise? There is no reason because it doesn’t matter since almost each and every 3D movie they released was a success. Sometimes the seemingly inferior sequel was even more profitable for them (Shrek: ~270M; Shrek 2: ~440M). Of course there are those guys like me who want something more intruiging or deeper, but the numbers are small omapred to the grosses.

If I were an executive and had to spent one hundred and fifty million dollar I also would look out carefully to what I spent this much money on. I would go look around to see what movies were successes; I would search for the highest possible chance of success so my money is a good (and save) investment. I most surely would go into the standard way. No unusual things. No unusual story or bad resolutions. Because the more unusual a story the smaller the audience.

And as it seems, both sides are happy with this situation. Hollywood can spit out the usual 3D flicks and the audience gets its simple, easy and funny movies in which they can forget the hard reality for one and a half hour. And I don’t blame anyone for this.

A possible solution

Nevertheless, this is not enough for me because I believe and know that Hollywood can do far more than that. But again, there is money you have to spend and earn. So what can we do, what could be a solution?

I think one of the most reasonable paths out of this are small productions that don’t cost that much money. Of course this is easier said than done but I believe that it is possible. Perhaps not 3D animation at the moment but 2D animation.

One production company could spent two to ten million dollar for a small budget 2D movie that blows our minds (the numbers don’t seem too low, since the anime movie Tokyo Godfathers by Satoshi Kon cost 2.7 Million Dollar, whereas Paprika, also by Kon, seemingly cost the same amount). By “dividing” the market, the “mass” audience can watch the normal 3D flicks, and the ones who like something more unusual (Paprika is a good exmaple), can watch the 2D animated movies. Everybody gets something and 2D animation gets a revival the adult way.

The more I think about it the more I like it, because in that regard 3D animation would in some way be the new Disney style – family cartoons with easy to follow stories and characters. 2D animation on the other hand could be the more intriguing brother, showing the adult, uneasy and arty stuff.

Am I dreaming too much?

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