There is no question that Miramax has earned its reputation as a producer of classy live-action films, but when it comes to animation, the Weinstein brothers have proven time and again that they are utterly clueless. Their animation releases throughout the years have included clunkers like FREDDY AS F.R.O.7., TOM AND JERRY: THE MOVIE, ARABIAN NIGHT, POKEMON 4-EVER and POKEMON HEROES. (They do have PRINCESS MONONOKE to their credit, though that film was foisted upon them by Disney and, by all accounts, not a project on which they took the initiative.) Now that they’ve split from Disney and formed The Weinstein Company, the brothers appear intent on maintaining their streak of animated incompetence with HOODWINKED, which opens in wide release on January 13. Fear not, the Weinsteins understand that in this day and age, crappy hand-drawn animated films won’t cut it anymore; today’s audiences demand crappy computer animation, and HOODWINKED promises to deliver plenty of that.
This Reuters article offers some background on the film and says that HOODWINKED’s budget was $15-20 million. To put that into perspective, the Weinsteins could have produced two amazing animated films for $20mil — THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE and MIND GAME — with spare change left over. The reason we don’t see more films like BELLEVILLE and MIND GAME is not that they cost too much or that there aren’t enough talented animation directors who can create such films; it’s that Hollywood’s live-action establishment doesn’t understand (and remains willfully ignorant about) the animated art form. As long as these people continue to call the shots, the great possibilities of feature animation will remain untapped, and the development of the art form painfully stunted. And we’ll continue to see directors like Zemeckis blow fortunes on “uncanny valley” quasi-animated films like POLAR EXPRESS, studios spend tens of millions to produce Saturday morning-quality fare like CURIOUS GEORGE, and producers like the Weinsteins invest in torturously bad projects like HOODWINKED.