I’ve always been suspicious of Miramax’s relationship with animated features. Before they were bought by Disney, the company had picked up and released a handful of oddball animated films (LIGHT YEARS, TOM & JERRY THE MOVIE, FREDDY AS F.R.0.7). But since its Disney relationship, beginning with their release of ARABIAN NIGHT (1995), I’ve suspected that Harvey Weinstein’s company has been releasing animated films that Disney had secretly purchased, but were afraid to release themselves under the Disney or Touchstone labels.
We all know Disney bought the Miyazaki films, so it’s clear they handed PRINCESS MONONOKE (1999) off to Miramax.
But why in the world would classy art film producer-distributor Miramax pick up the Pokemon franchise? POKEMON 4-EVER (2002) and POKEMON HEROES (2003) have been box office duds, but it’s apparent to me that Disney wanted to pull this anime fad out of theatrical competition – thus grabbed the opportunity to get the final films in the series to quietly dispose of them – through Miramax.
Miramax has never done well with any of its animated features – so why do they continue to try? The answer since 1995 is that they are doing Disney’s bidding – following the corporate mentality to dominate the now-competitive U.S. animation market. Miramax is on track to release Miyazaki’s next film (HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE) and today announced a deal to acquire Sylvain Chomet’s new animated feature (through Miramax’s Dimension Films label).
Despite the layoff of its greatest animation asset (its traditional animation staff), Disney is still competing in the animation arena… outsourcing 2D to India, doing CG in London and picking up French & Japanese cartoons for Miramax release.