The Hollywood Reporter published a lengthy piece that suggests an impending feature animation war:
The unprecedented glut of product points to a seismic shift in the animation business as new players such as Universal and Sony finally gain a stronghold and established companies like DreamWorks Animation, Fox, Disney Animation Studios and Pixar up their games. Family franchises can be incredibly lucrative if done right — between global theatrical sales (particularly international), home entertainment and merchandising. Pixar’s Cars franchise, for example, moved north of $10 billion in merchandise alone. If they don’t work, studios can lose tens upon tens of millions, with hundreds of jobs at risk.
Late last month, Pixar and Disney Animation chief creative officer John Lasseter essentially declared war on Katzenberg by dating a slew of untitled Pixar and Disney Animation Studios films through 2018, going so far as to claim June 17, 2016, even though DWA already had put How to Train Your Dragon 3 there. Never before have a Pixar and DWA movie gone up against one another. Katzenberg and Fox, where Vanessa Morrison heads up Fox Animation Studios, retaliated by flooding the calendar through 2018 with their own untitled films, even planting one on June 16, 2017, a Pixar date.
The Reporter doesn’t have all their facts straight. They wrote that, “For the past handful of years, there have been no more than four or five studio animated films a year, plus a handful of indie titles. There are eight releases this year and 10 next year.” However, there have easily been eight to ten major studio animation releases per year in recent times. Just take a look at the 2011 and 2012 release slates.
Of course, the other argument is that there aren’t too many tentpole animated features, only too many features that are cut from the same cloth. Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks and Blue Sky each use their own finely tuned formulas, and audiences are guaranteed to tire of those sooner than they do of animation itself.