Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Studio Power Rankings: Second Tier

I sat around procrastinating this blog entry for a couple of weeks now. Lacking the interest to write about the next group of studios, I’ve put it off long enough. Let’s recap the first tier before moving on. In order, they were Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, Blue Sky, and Sony....continued...

#6: DNA

While Jimmy Neutron didn’t appeal to me, I can respect that they made a successful film for a modest budget. Sure, it didn’t reach Pixar, DreamWorks, or even Blue Sky figures, yet it still did proportionally well. DNA kept the ball rolling with the Neutron series work and they are now in production on their second feature- “Ant Bully”. Even though their animation is quite a leap below the likes of Pixar and DreamWorks, the studio has a film under their belt and lots of people that know what they are doing. These guys are on the verge of being first tier. Ant Bully is supposed to be better quality than Neutron, so they very well could leap frog someone in the rankings if all goes well. The biggest knock against them isn’t about the work they produce, but their business situation. As far as I know, they are acting purely as a for-hire-facility for other producers/production companies. They need to come up with their own content and stop doing other peoples work. Until then, I would have a hard time moving them up.

#7: Vanguard

Let’s face it, Valiant doesn’t have a spot-on story or doesn’t look all that stunning. The final dagger is that it did poorly in the box office, both in the US and Europe. On a personal level, the company strikes a nerve with me because of their “hire then fire” business model. However, with all that said, they have succeeded in a lot of areas where others have failed. They put a relationship with Disney together (whether that will remain true, has yet to be seen) and have made it through their first film production. They are already back at work with “Space Chimps” which is being produced in Canada. Sorry London, the tax incentives just weren’t enough for round #2.

#8: Omation

These guys are about to release their first film “Barnyard”. The look and feel is very Jimmy Neutron’ish -as it should be with some of the same people involved-. I know very little about this film other than a few conversations with people that are either still working there or have worked there recently. Rumor has it the original budget was practically doubled as they ran into trouble during production. Despite the problems, the trailer seems funny enough and although I worry that it can carry for the whole 1 ½ hours, I think it will do alright. Unfortunately, Omation looks to be falling into the “hire then fire” business model with the possibility that this film will be it for the studio.

#9: Disney / Pandemonium

This film has been in production for a while now and from what I’ve heard, it has been a bumpy ride. This is a Disney funded and marketed project that is being handled by Pandemonium (they have called themselves many different names). CORE is the animation studio in Canada that was hired to produce the visuals. I really don’t have a lot of reasons for putting them at #9 other than they have an 800lb Disney gorilla behind them. The story is similar to Madagascar and it should be interesting to see how this project turns out after hearing of all the problems.

#10 Wild Brain

Wild Brain has been doing shorts and commercial work for a long time now. They recently announced that they would be creating CG features in the $50 million area. The first project out of the gate is supposed to be “Opus”. I think these guys can do a very good job. With the experience they have and $50 million per film, they should be able to pump out a decent looking movie.

#11 Laika

I could write exactly the same thing here that I wrote for Wild Brain. I’m slightly less impressed with their CG work, so that accounts for the #11 slot. What they do have going for them is an excellent story guy that should be able to put something great together.

I’ll get to the 3rd and final tier shortly. That will probably be a little more scathing.

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