Earlier this year, you might remember that we were just a little bit enthusiastic for the release of Gore Verbinski’s Rango. For our money, it’s still the best animated movie of the year, and further than that, one of 2011’s best films. Not everyone seemed to agree, but the film still picked up around $240m worldwide. That’s not enough for a profit just yet, but given the theme and content of the movie, that’s a solid result.
And it seems to have whetted Paramount’s appetite for more. The studio is in the process now of setting up its own animated movie division, following the likes of Universal, Fox and Sony in doing so. Paramount will be looking to follow what Universal has done, in particular. After all, it was Universal that basically outsourced its animated work, which meant that, not only did it get Despicable Me, but that the film itself was made for around $70m. Contrast that with the bill for Disney’s Tangled, which was more than three times as expensive when everything was totted up, and you can see the appeal.
No projects have thus far been announced, but it does have interesting ramifications for DreamWorks. Paramount has a soon-to-end deal in place to distribute DreamWorks Animation movies, with Puss In Boots next off the production line.
But said deal will presumably come to an end with this new announcement, and as such, DreamWorks Animation might just need a new distributor. The only major studio without a massively active feature animation department, Warner Bros, is a possible destination, although even it has Happy Feet 2 on the slate for the end of the year.
Every other major studio seems to have animation covered, and while DreamWorks Animation is a major player in the market, things are getting really quite crowded.
Paramount itself, incidentally, has had success in feature animation prior to Rango. The Rugrats Movie was one of the first non-Disney animated films to pass $100m at the US box office, and the sequel still has one of the most inspired Godfather skits in the history of cinema.
Paramount Animation is looking to make a film a year, with the first set for release in 2014. And it’s going to be interesting to see just what the ramifications of its decisions will be…