By Alex Avila
2D animation in film has become a rare occurrence in the western film industry.
Less big-budget 2D animated movies are being produced compared to 3D animated features. once the technology came, studios didn’t hesitate to move onto new 3D animation.
Disney who purchased Pixar to be their 3D animation studio has followed Pixars footprints and now focus on 3D animated movies themselves.
In the 1990s, Disney films were more successful than ever, coming out with hit after hit. So why after a big stream of success did Disney also jump onto 3D animation?
Disney was having success with their ’90s 2D animated films but they were very expensive to make with movies such as “Tarzan” and “Mulan” Costing well over 90 million to produce.
The films brought back more money compared to the production cost, bringing in over $400 million each. Disney wanted the same success for half the cost.
Animated films that cost half of what a typical Disney movie would are “The Rugrats Movie” and Pixar’s “Toy Story” had a budget less than $40 million dollars but brought the same success.
The success of “The Rugrats” movie started a trend of movies based on cartoons from Disney and Nickelodeon.
This blinds consumers on what was even a full-feature animated disney movie, making the industry feel over-saturated. In the early 2000s, Disney films began to struggle because of this. “Treasure Planet” was received critically but was a box office failure.
Since 2003, Disney switched their focus to 3D animation. Disney has only produced two hand drawn films: 2009’s “Princess and the Frog” and 2010’s “Winnie the Pooh.” Both received great reviews, but failed.
According to Edwin Catmull, president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studio, both movies being released alongside “Avatar” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” respectively being the reason they failed in the box office.
This gave Disney the idea people don’t want to see hand drawn animation anymore, which is completely false. 2D animation produced outside of the United States has also achieved great success.
Japan’s animation has been getting more and more popular worldwide with the releases of classic masterpieces like 1988’s “Akira” and 1995’s “Ghost in the Shell”, both known for masterful life-like animation and being creative pieces of art.
Both films grossed billions worldwide. The continued success of Japanese hand drawn films like 2016’s “Your Name”, which achieved seven awards and over $300 million worldwide, shows that 2D animation is still something people would like to see.
It’s not the audience that doesn’t want to see these movies but rather the studios themselves that, would rather make money instead of interesting films.
Famous Japanese animator and director Hayao Miyazaki said “I think 2-D animation disappeared from Disney because they made so many uninteresting films. They became very conservative in the way they created them. It’s too bad. I thought 2-D and 3-D could coexist happily.”