Is this still news? Not to me. Every (or most) Pixar and Dreamworks film has opened at number #1 and gone on to gross well over $100 million dollars domestically. Mainstream reporting like this just shows that we still have a way to go to change the kiddie-show perception of animation.
Brooks Barnes wrote this in yesterday’s New York Times:
The medium is showing signs of expanding beyond the kiddie market. The success of video games has resulted in a generation of adults who are comfortable consuming animated entertainment, Hollywood executives say. One indication: “Coraline,” the sophisticated 3-D picture about an adventurous girl, found an adult audience, so far selling $85.2 million in tickets.
Disney will test this part of the market with “Ponyo” on Aug. 14. This Hayao Miyazaki film is centered on a 5-year-old boy’s friendship with a goldfish that wants to be human. “Sophisticated stories coupled with powerful imaginations and beautiful animation appeals to everyone,” said Kathleen Kennedy, who is co-producing the English version of the film.
I’m not sure Ponyo is the film to test the adult appetite for animation. I haven’t seen it yet, but it looks like one of Miyazaki’s more juvenile films (though personally, I can’t wait to see it). Barnes’ article notes the emerging competition to Disney and Dreamworks – a whole slew of forthcoming films films (Astro Boy, Planet 51, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) vying to compete for the “new” all-ages theatre going audience. While noting the failure of Battle For Terra and mild success of Igor, Barnes neglects to mention the true tests of his theory: Shane Acker’s 9, Adam Elliot’s Mary and Max and perhaps Wes Anderson’s the Fantastic Mr. Fox – all opening later this year, all with a more mature point of view.
As for The Princess and The Frog, Mr. Barnes (who is apparently the official NY Times animation reporter) wrote a separate article last Friday on the “controversy” (is there one?) over a black princess. This piece alone indicates that the mainstream media has a long way to go to catch up with what the rest of us has known all along: animation is for everyone.