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Bad Ideas

Forbes Magazine Calls Six Animated Films “A Glut”

In an analysis of Hollywood’s summer movie season, Scott Mendelson of Forbes suggested that Hollywood produced “too much animation” this year, and that “six major animated films in just over three months is a glut.” We’ve been down this road before, and hardly need to point out the wrongheadedness of this lazy punditry.

What’s amazing is that Mendelson spends most of his analysis talking about the relative success of these animated films and still manages to arrive at the wrong conclusion. The fact is that two out of those six animated films were blockbusters, which is a far higher success rate than Hollywood’s live-action efforts. It’s exasperating to keep having to point this out, but as long as the mainstream media continues to misrepresent the animation industry, we’ll keep correcting them.

(Thanks, Ashnard)

  • Power_Animator

    Why complain when there are so many horrible Live films being made, why isn’t that called “A Glut”? It just goes to show you how much animation can be under appreciated. Everything in moderation…why not say that for all films?

  • Dana B

    Nothing stops the hate train!

    If Forbes or anyone else isn’t happy that animated films are wildly popular, that’s their problem.

    (Also, I love your continued use of the laughing minions pic, Amid.)

  • guest

    I cringe everytime you use the same example that those animated blockbusters have made a ton of money. When the average movie that makes a ton of money is stuff like Transformers and superhero movies, which compared to other movies out there, they are vapid and simple. How is that a compliment? I dont think the point of the articles you’re responding to has ever been that animated films don’t make money

    • Crispy Walker

      AMEN! The fact that two of those movies made a ridiculous amount of money doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re good — it means that they were marketed well and targeted an audience that is no longer catered to in the theatre with anything beyond animation. People complain about how animation is perceived as being for kids all the time, but the fact that we no longer have movies made for family audiences in live action like we did in the 80s and 90s makes animation the only option for many families that aren’t willing to take their eight year old to a sexy blood-feast. I actually agree that six animated films in 3 months is a glut. The other four probably would have done better if they weren’t released so close it each other. The same could be said for a lot of the films that “flopped” this summer at the box office. It’s not that Pacific Rim was a bad movie — it was just released amid such a hoard of gluttonous bombastic violence and spectacle that it and others failed to register on moviegoer’s radars.

      • Funkybat

        It’s kind of strange to me that no one seems to try to go for the “family-friendly comedy/action” blend that worked so well for a lot of films in the 80s and early 90s. No one is making anything in the vein of “WarGames”, “Back to the Future”, ‘Ghostbusters” “Natl. Lampoon’s Vacation” or even the more dramedy stuff like John Hughes’ films. The last franchise I can think of that hit that zone was Brendan Fraser’s “Mummy” movies or maybe “Spy Kids”. I know I would be frustrated if I were the parent of a kid between 6-12 if I were trying to find movies we could all enjoy in the theaters these days.

    • mikeluz

      The write-up was in Forbes magazine, a business publication. What Forbes views as a successful film is purely financial. So to speak in their own language, Amid referenced how wrong this financial analyst was in saying that Hollywood made too many animated films when, from a pure business-minded perspective, they have a higher success rate than their live action counterparts.

      • AmidAmidi

        Thank you, Mikeluz! I was going to point out the same thing—that the discussion in the Forbes piece is entirely financial—but you beat me to the punch.

  • Power_Animator

    Hopefully we can say that with animation being more publicized the way it is, the general public can start seeing it as a medium. It’s sad that animation has been around for years and its still not looked at the way live-action films are.

    • Funkybat

      I honestly can’t imagine thinking of a given year having a “glut” of animated features until there were maybe 15-20 tentpole releases in a single year, which will probably never happen. As it stands, most years have 4-6 major animated features and maybe another 4-5 more minor or “arthouse” releases. That’s a dearth in my book.

      And yes, relative to live-action releases, a larger percentage of animated films are actually entertaining and somewhat original compared to the HUNDREDS of regurgitated schlock-fests that flood multiplexes year after year. I’d say maybe 10-15% of live action films released in a given year are actually wortth anything, compared to 40-50% or more of the animated films. Pretty good track record when you think about it.

  • Stinky Wizzleteats

    For people who think they can put in a quick cheap investment and get immediate returns, then yes, animation is a risky business and you deserve to lose every penny you own if you think that is how it’s supposed to be done.

  • Brooke Regalado

    This is such bull. This was a great summer for animation, so much creativity, and so people really need jobs right now. It just makes me sick that one critic can trash films so easily, when it take hundreds of talented hard working people to produce such a high quality product as features.

    I truly find it disgusting and it makes me sad.

  • Alex Printz

    Once again, they’re defining animation as a genre, and not a medium, and with good reason. As far as the generic kid-centric family funtime films goes, there has been plenty of those this summer (6). You’d be worn out on six sci-fi alien movies in a summer too, right? How about six romantic comedies in three months? Six super heroes? Now look back at six PG silly kids films in three months. Glut.

    Stop making kids movies with animation, and this bias will leave. We have no one to blame but ourselves for the public thinking of animation as a genre.

  • Sean

    As a long time reader of both this site and Scott Mendelson (who was an independent blogger doing film reviews/box office reporting on his own until Forbes picked him up just this year), I can say that you have zeroed in the one mistake he made out of a lot of great reporting. I’ve read him for a while. He’s a nerd like the rest of us. So, yeah, it would be incorrect to call 6 animated films a glut. That doesn’t mean he’s just Mr. Business Guy who doesn’t get animation. Maybe his background isn’t in animation, specifically, but here, he’s just a guy who said one wrong thing. In general, I think he’s very good at what he does.

    So, is it worth having a conversation about how animation is ghettoized in America, at least from a critical/cultural standpoint? Absolutely. Is it worth discussing that this is changing, and has been for decades, and it is a long, slow process and we still have a long way to go? Definitely.

    But to cherry pick one poorly thought out conclusion from a writer who is actually one of the best film bloggers around? Sorry, just felt I had to put in a good word here for Mendelson. You guys both run good sites.

  • Jen Hurler

    At the rate these articles are cropping up, looking through the ‘Bad Ideas’ tag on this site is easily going to become one of the best ways for an animation person to laugh and cry at the same time.

  • Trevor

    Whatever artistic opinions we may have, the reality of the situation is that the current business model can not support animated films being in direct competition. In the coming years there will be major studios with the same release date and that will have a financial impact, which will most likely affect the workforce negatively.

    We can all talk about how silly it is that there could possibly be “too much” animation, but in the current paradigm of content distribution (huge budget theatrical releases), there’s been a truce on release dates for a long time. That can’t continue as more studios join the game or established studios increase their output. That’s what this article is about.

  • Mark Caballero

    I’m sick of these vapid “contributors” barfing out uninteresting information that anyone can find after spending 5 minutes reading USA Today. And then using animation as their safe bash because there are no celebrities to upset.

    I encourage everyone to leave a reply on Scott Mendelson’s article. Nothing mean spirited please. People like this guy need to know we’re done with this kind of BS

  • Elana Pritchard

    I think in your mind you’ve taken on this “I speak for the people” type of role, but I think what the people really want is unbiased news reporting.


    It’s the best thing you can do if you want to help animation.

  • But the issue (in my view) is the fact that of the six films, four of them basically came out within a month of each other. If you’re a normal family that doesn’t always take their kid to every kids film out there, you probably exhausted your fill of the cineplex with EPIC, MONSTERS U, and/or DESPICABLE ME 2, leaving the other three lower-profile titles fighting for bread crumbs among the hardcore moviegoers.

    Had one or two of the other three come out at different points of the year, especially the first 1/4 of the month where there was basically nothing for young kids to see whatsoever, they likely would have done at least a little better domestically. Ask yourself this: If you’re a parent with young kids, would you be more likely to take them to see PLANES after a full course of summer animated movies or during early February where there hasn’t been a new kids toon since RISE OF THE GUARDIANS back in Thanksgiving weekend?

  • SarahJesness

    It’s not a “glut”. It might feel like a glut because animated theater films tend to be aimed at the same audience, and often are the same genre, but it’s still not a glut.

  • Bryan

    I suppose, in the same token, we’re having a famine of actually good movies that aren’t animated.

    Were I an industry trend clairvoyant sorcerer, I would prognosticate that not only are animated features more popular with a growing audience (most everyone younger than 30, which has since birth been exposed to quality animation domestic and foreign), but in this uncertain global social climate people are more willing to indulge in the generally optimistic fantasy of an animated world than they are to stare into a bleak distopic future of live-action zombie plagues, corrupt world governments, and post-apocalyptic sci-fi thrillers.

  • jmahon

    I hope the laughing minions becomes the go-to image for when non-industry news makes egregious assumptions about animation, like this sort of crap