Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Utilizing the Library

Based on past results, this iteration of Beauty and the Beast should do big numbers.


Added to which, the trailers have gotten huge on-line viewership, and the anticipation level is high. So the Mouse has another winner, correct?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Animated Features' Running Totals

Always good to know how audiences and the world marketplace are liking the current batch of long-form cartoons. As of tonight:


Sing -- $257,405,085 -- ($463,705,085)

Moana -- $240,115,596 -- ($530,115,596)

Trolls -- $152,737,834 -- ($338,247,563)

Trolls has been out thirteen weeks and owns a solid domestic run. A dozen years ago, DreamWorks features regularly topped $200 million in domestic grosses. But then the box office blahs set in, and DWA features were lucky to nose past $100 million. So $152.7 million? Pretty damn good.

Moana turns out to be Musker's and Clements' strongest entry in years, and will likely close in on $600 million before the movie's theatrical run is over. Meantime, Sing has leap-frogged past the island princess after six weeks of distribution, and proves to be yet another winner for Illumination Entertainment.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Birth of Warner Bros. Animation

Professor Tom Sito informs us:

Jan 28, 1930 - Warner Brothers Cartoons Born.

Leon Schlesinger, the head of Pacific Art and Title, signed a deal with several unemployed Disney animators who had left Walt to form their own studio to draw Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but had been stiffed by their contacts.

Leon Schlesinger had connections with the Warner Bros. since he helped them get funding for the 'Jazz Singer'. They created Leon Schlesinger's Studio Looney Tunes, in imitation of Disney's Silly Symphonies. Their first character was Bosko, but eventually they would create Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Pepe LePew and more.

The Warner brothers purchased Schelsinger's studio during World War II. Unlike Walt Disney, the Warners never regarded animation as anything but a side line, and allowed a bunch of early Warns shorts to fall into the public domain.

Also unlike Disney, Warner Bros. has gotten in and then out of the animation biz through the years.

WB Cartoons downsized in the early sixties and disappeared entirely in 1969. Relaunched as Warner Bros. Animation in 1980, it has been a presence in the making of cartoons ever since, but its potency has ebbed and flowed. WBA was little more than a cipher until the 1990s, when it plunged into animated series for TV in a major way.

Warner Bros. Animation has been a major player ever since, and today has close to a dozen series in work. Theatrical features, however, are something else again. In the 1990s, Warners launched Warner Bros. Feature Animation, but after a servies of under-performers (one of being the iconic Iron Giant) the division closed its doors. Today, Time-Warner is again in the feature animation business with Warner Animation Group (WAG). How it will fare over the next few years is really anyone's guess. To date, its track record is spotty.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Cartoon Productions Among Us

Being a post about productions happening in L.A.'s Cartoonland, the following will have omissions and possibly errors, because they happen. And because I'm no longer plugged into the day-to-day hubbub of animation production, but have to rely on spies and stoolies willing to talk. Also, too, the internet. ...


Bob's Burger

The Awesomes (Atlanta)

Legends of Chamberlain Heights

various pilots

The studio has two Southern California locations in Burbank and North Hollywood. Also facilities in Atlanta and Canada.


Wee Bare Bears

Ben 10 (newer version)

Power Puff Girls

Samurai Jack (10 episodes -- in post production)

Steven Universe

Mighty Magiswords

OK KO (Let's Be Heroes)

Summer Camp Island

Various unannounced series, including a prime time offering.

Clarence (wrapping up)

Regular Show (wrapping up)

Adventure Time (wrapping up)

Uncle Grandpa (wrapping up)

CN's L.A. County Studio snugs up against the Burbank Police Department in Burbank, California. CN also has a studio in Atlanta. Many "Adult Swim" offerings are done by non-signator sub-contractors because "doing it on the cheap" is an operating philosophy.


Mickey Mouse shorts

Star Vs. The Forces of Evil

Pickle and Peanut

Sofia the First (wrapping)

Elena of Avalor

Duck Tales

Country Club

Olaf's Frozen Adventures

Mickey and the Roadster Racers

Milo Murphy's Law

Big Hero 6: The Series

Muppet Babies (CG)

Three Caballeros

The Lion Guard

Wicked World

Disney TVA is located in Glendale on Sonora Avenue ... and next to the Burbank Airport in what is known as "Media Center North". The division is outsourcing more of its shows as a cost-cutting move (studio overhead ain't cheap). L.A. subcontractors include Wild Canary, Rough Draft Studios, and Titmouse/Robin Red breast.


Planes 3

Animation veteran Mark Dindall is at work on "Planes 3".



Captain Underpants (wrapping in Canada)

How to Train Your Dragon 3

Shrek 5

B.O.O. - Bureau of Otherworldly Operations

Puss in Boots 2

Madagascar 4

With the purchase of DreamWorks Animation by Universal, changes are ongoing, with various management changes (Chris deFaria comes aboard; Chris Meledandri will be a more active consultant, focusing in "Larrikins" to start with). Expect changes at both DreamWorks Animation and Walt Disney Animation Studios. At both places there have been layoffs over the past few months.


All Hail King Julian

The Adventures of Puss in Boots

Rocky & Bullwinkle

Vegitales (Louisiana)




Dragons, How to Train

(new version)

Harvey Girls


Spirit Riding Free

DWA tv continues to produce a variety of series for Netflix distribution. The division is located in Glendale on multiple stories of a skyscraper on Central Avenue. It has been a large employer of animation and CG artists since it was created four-plus years ago.


The Simpsons

Family Guy

American Dad

Fox Animation hs two locations: one in Burbank at the Pinnacle on Alameda, and a larger facility on Wilshire (los Angeles) where "American Dad" and "Family Guy" are produced.


Seth MacFarlane's production company, headquartered in Beverly Hills, developing various live-action and animated projects.


Stretch Armstrong

Transformers (winding down

Micronauts (scripts in L.A., most of production at Hasbro subsidiary Boulder in Ireland)

My Little Pony (scripts in L.A., production in Canada)

Hasbro recently moved to the Yahoo complex next to the Burbank Airport. Before the move they were further north in a building shared with Film Roman/"Simpsons".


Spiderman (newer iteration)



Marvel Animation, a Disney subsidiary, has two animation facilities in Glendale, on and near Flower Street. Marvel Animation will be moving to a new location on Main Street in Burbank the middle of the year.


Bunson Is A Beast

Fairly Odd Parents (last of new episodes wrapping in Canada)

Sponge Bob Square Pants

Loud House

Harvey Beaks

Ninja Turtles (new version)

Shimmer & Shine

Pinky Malinky

Glitch Tech

Hey Arnold (long form)

Rocko (long form)

Henry Danger

Nickelodeon has recently consolidated animation staff from Third Street in Burbank and Brand Boulevard in Glendale to its new skyscraper on Olive Avenue in Burbank.


Tom & Jerry

Renegade is a non-signator animation studio in Glendale California. It has done sub-contract work for WB Animation, also provided content for the website "ABC Mouse".


Bojack Horseman

Shadow Machine is located in the east Valley, yet another non-Guild studio.


Run by Mike and Liz Young (and a non-Animation Guild studio), Splash is located in Warner Center out in the west San Fernando Valley. Recent projects: "Norm of the North" (feature) and "Kulipari: An Army of Frogs (series). If you know what they are currently working on you are more knowledgable than Hulett.


Rick and Morty


Starburns in located in Burbank; "Rick and Morty" is a Guild show, its other projects are non-Guild.


Big Mouth

Nikko and the Sword of Light


Son of Zorn


Goldie and Bear

Hanazuki: Full of Treasures


The Venture Brothers

Super Jail

Titmouse/Robin Red Breast is located on Lexington Avenue in Hollywood, with anothe facility in New York. They were an early sub-contractor for DreamWorks Animation tv, and have also worked on a variety of Disney shows, Netflix shows, some of which are listed above.


Super Mansion

Robot Chicken

2 Stoopid Buddies is yet another east San Fernando Valley studio, located in Burbank. It's a non-Guild studio.


Curious George


Land Before Time*

In the past few weeks, UCS moved to the DreamWorks Animation campus in Glendale. At least, the Curious George unit did.


Wreck-It Ralph 2


Frozen 2

Zootopia 2

Let's take it for granted, Hollywood culture being Hollywood culture, that any feature that grosses $1 billion or more will automatically generate a sequel before many years have passed. No self-respecting conglomerate will do anything different. (What do you think this is?! 1943?)


The Lego Movie Sequel



The Lego Ninjago Movie

The Lego Batman Movie (completed)

Warner Animation Group recently lost one of their top execs (Chris deFaria) to DreamWorks Animation; the Time-Warner division is located in Hollywood near Melrose, on the Warner Bros. lot, and on the Warner ranch.



Bee Cool Scooby Doo



Justice League Action

Mike Tyson Mysteries

Teen Titans Go!

DC Girls

Green Eggs and Ham

Wacky Races

Warner Bros. Animation has locations at three Burbank locations: the Warner Ranch, the Pinnacle, and the Burbank Studio (formerly NBC Studios).

Trends in Los Angeles animation? Television animation is roaring and will continue to roar. The big drivers here are the new media players Netflix and Amazon. Both are ramping up their kids' content. My informants tell me that Amazon is going to be doing a lot more children's programming in the coming moths/years.

Theatrical animation, on the other hand, is in a holding pattern. As stated above, both DreamWorks Animation and Walt Disney Animation Studios have laid off staff. Retrenchment is the order of the day. Illumination Entertainment, which does most of its production in Paris, continues to hire freelance board artists at favorable pay rates in Los Angeles to work on features.

But overall? It looks as though animation employment will be robust in Southern California for some time to come. (And look for this post to be updated over the next few days).

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Ann Guenther, RIP

Ann Guenther began her career in animation as an inker on Sleeping Beauty.

In those days, she was fresh from Pennsylvania, without money or contacts in the business ... or very much artistic training. One bright morning on the Disney lot, she encountered Walt Disney. He asked her, “What are you doing here so early?”

She answered, “I get here early every morning, Mr. Disney. I have to, because I hitchhike to work.” Ann was eighteen at the time. And Walt Disney was surprised.

Ms. Guenther returned to Disney as a full-fledged background artist after working on the lot as an inker in the late 1950s, one of the first individuals to ever accomplish this feat.

Ann worked in the Disney background department when supervisor Al Dempster ran it, and went on to a career with brushes and paint that spanned decades. Among her many theatrical credits: Robin Hood, The Rescuers, Space Jam, Winnie the Pooh and The Iron Giant. Ann was also a prolific background artist for a wide array of TV shows that include Tiny Toon Advnetures, Pinky and the Brain and The Flintstones.

Ann passed away from pneumonia on January 24th. She was 79.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Imagery Award

Brad Bird gets honored by the Art Directors Guild:

Filmmaker Brad Bird has been tapped to receive the Cinematic Imagery Award from the Art Directors Guild. The honor will be presented next month at the guild’s 21st annual Art Directors Guild’ Excellence in Production Design Awards.

Mr. Bird is a talented man, so it makes sense ... even though the Art Directors Guild has never repped animated features or shorts.

If John Lasseter receives a trophy from the ADG, why not Brad Bird? It's only fair.

Friday, January 20, 2017

If You're In The Market ...

Animator Frank Thomas's Flintridge house, built in 1949, was put up for sale this week.

The line of prospective purchasers forms there on the left

Box Office Check

The running totals of the two animated features now in the marketplace?

Sing, after thirty days, has amassed $406,538,017 box office dollars. It's up to $240,325,195 in domestic grosses, and (as of Thursday) is in the fifty position in the Big Box Office List.

Moana, unspooling on global screens for almost two months, has earned $234,274,702 in domestic grosses, and taken in $488,293,923 across the world.

Moana will end up somewhere between half a billion and $600 million before its theatrical runs wind down, while Sing will end up a bit higher. Sing, of course, cost half as much as Moana, but almost all of Illumination Entertainment's movies cost in the $75-$85 million range.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Newer Trailer

The voice of SNL Trump is ALSO the voice of ...

Boss Baby! Which rolls out the end of March; prediction for box office?

Opening Weekend: $31 million

Domestic Box Office: $102 million

Overseas Box Office: $178 million

Worldwide Box Office: $273 million

Me, I think the domestic total will be a bit higher than the century mark, though overseas box office seems close to the mark.

BB arrives in a couple of months (March 31st), and almost immediately after, the fully-animated Smurfs rolls down the motion picture pike. (That will be April 7th).

There are a lot of animated features out this year, so we'll get yet another trail run with the animated movies cannibalizes each other! theory, disproven though it is.

Ongoing TV Cartoon Expansion

... with apparently, no end within sight:

... FXX already has The Simpsons library and, starting with next season, FX hit Archer, which is migrating to FXX. There are no current half-hour animated pilots in the hopper at FX Networks, but the goal is to launch a new FXX animated series behind Season 9 of Archer in 2018 ...

As Netflix and Amazon are big believers in animated product, both new and recycled, so are a wide variety of cable networks owned by Disney, Time-Warner and the rest of the usual suspects. This means that animation employment should continue to rise, because those scripts, storyboard and design packages have to come from somewhere.

And if you ask why animation shows continue to sprout like mushrooms after a Spring rain, it's because (as mentioned before):

Animated product attracts lots of eyeballs (aprticularly younger ones).

Animated shows enjoy a long shelf-life (witness The Flintstones, The Simpsons, Scooby Doo (Version 67), Family Guy, etc.) and tall profit margins.

Animated half-hours are relatively inexpensive to produce.

In other words, cartoons present a perfect storm of on-going cash flow for hungry conglomerates, so don't expect to see animation dwindle away anytime soon.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Continuing Boom ... And Occasional Bust

Attending the Animation Guild Holiday Party last night, it's clear that the cartoon boom continues, as the Autry Museum was packedo with happy revelers.

... inside Cartoonland

Animation continues its high-stepping gallop in the marketplace (mostly). There's a lots of projects and lots of people working. Like for instance this:

Animated series The Cops (working title), starring and co-created by Louis C.K. and Albert Brooks, has moved to TBS where it has received a 10-episode straight-to-series order for a 2018 premiere. The Office creator and King of the Hill co-creator Greg Daniels has come on board as an executive producer for the series from FX Productions, Louis C.K.’s Pig Newton and Turner’s Studio T. ...

TBS has a growing animation pipeline. The Cops joins flagship American Dad!, which has thrived since moving from Fox, and upcoming series Tarantula, a dark comedy from Carson Mell about the residents of a seedy hotel, and Final Space, an interstellar comedy created by Olan Rogers. ...

From appearances, The Cops pre-production (boards, scripts, design, etc.) is being done in Burbank at Starburns Industries, so it will provide employment for Guild artists.

Will the show pay Guild benefits? If the crew wants it.

And on the theatrical end of the spectrum, the two features out there continue to do well.

Disney's Moana, now fallen from the Top Ten, has racked up more than $230 million in domestic box office, while Sing will have earned north of earned $237 million by early next week ... with only half as much time in release.

But in the interest of full disclosure, please note that not everything is sunshine and lollipops:

Paramount Pictures originally conceived its new movie “Monster Trucks” as fuel for its upstart animation business. But instead, the long-delayed big-budget picture is poised to become the first major box-office wreck of 2017.

The live action-computer animation hybrid, about a teenage boy who befriends a tentacled, gas-guzzling monster in his truck, is on track to gross $8 million to $10 million during its first four days in theaters this weekend — an abysmal result for a movie that cost $125 million to make. ...

So director Chris Wedge has come up with an under-performer, not good for struggling Paramount-Viacom. Paramount Animation has had a tough time of late. The battle royal between factions in the higher reaches of the conglomerate resulted in delays to the latest Sponge Bob feature; story personnel were laid off for months, with the head of SB's development team ultimately moving on.

Hopefully things will be better for Paramount's fully-animated slate, coming in 2018. But it's always good to have decisive creative control at the top, a la Pixar, Disney Illumination Entertainment, etc. Otherwise, meager box office returns may materialize.

h/t for this last to Tom Sito.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Investment Thingie

So if you're tucking money away for the house purchase or your sunset years, what investments did best in 2016?

If you were in Vanguard's Total Stock Market Fund, you frolicked, earning 12.66%. (The S & P 500 Index did almost as well: 11.93%).

And if you were in Vanguard Small Cap Index Fund? The take was 18.3% ... and Small Cap Value was even better at 24,78%

Vanguard Target Date Funds were varied, depending on what year you elected to be in. Vanguard Target Date 2050 (90% stocks/10% bonds) pulled down 8.85%, while Vanguard Target Date Income (30% stocks/70% bonds) earned 5.25%

Total U.S. Bond Market? The beast made 2.6% in 2016, not great, but then bonds are in people's portfolios to guard against big drops that come, from time to time, from the equity side of an individual's stash.

There are an almost infinite number of stock/bond asset allocations, everything from Harry Browne's Permanent Portfolio to the simple yet elegant Three-Fund Portfolio.

And whattayaknow? There are no "perfect" stock/bond allocation, one that will provide optimum returns year in and year out. Because at any given moment in time, one portfolio will do better than another portfolio. And it's hard to tell in advance which of the combinations will perform best. (Rats!)

The Bogleheads Financial Page provides the returns for eight of the most popular stock/bond allocations (often called "Lazy Portfolios") out there. So plunk your money down in the "Coffeehouse Portfolio" or the "Coward's Portfolio" and see what kind of income (if any) you earn in 2017.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Deadline tells us:

... Disney is circling with Will Smith to star for director Tim Burton in Dumbo, the live-action adaptation of the classic 1941 animated film. The studio is moving aggressively toward a production start with a script by Ehren Kruger about the big-eared, lovable elephant. ...

So I'm confused. Will is playing Timothy?

And is he going to be rapping? Repurposing any songs?

(It'll probably make $580 million.)

Merger Mania

I seems movie companies conglomerates are anxious to become larger, more all-encompassing, and more octopus-like.

Yup, that should be excellent news for labor unions and the workers they rep.

... [D]istributors that have direct relationships with consumers will hunt for studio acquisitions that ensure access to the desirable content. AT&T's $85.4 billion bid for Time Warner could open the floodgates if approved by regulators.

"I see it sailing through, and that in turn will send the signal that other megamergers will receive a friendly reception in Washington," says top media investment banker Lloyd Greif, brushing aside a recent report that President-elect Donald Trump remains opposed to the deal. "I think 2017 is going to be a rambunctious M&A market." ...

See, when the DGA, SAG and the WGA (or Screen Writers Guild, as it was then called) battled Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner and Darryl Zanuck to represent movie workers, the playing field was one hell of a lot more level than it is now.

Today, international conglomerates get larger and larger, also more bull-headed about maximizing profits. The entertainment unions got residuals in the fifties and sixties because they could inflict significant pain on the companies against which they faced off.

When guilds and unions become gnats battling and negotiating against corporate dragns standing forty stories high, what kind of leverage you think they'll have?

Where is the Sherman Anti-Trust Act when you need it?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Features Keep Harvesting Cash

So there are three animated features out in the world market place, all three doing good to great business at the box office.

The entry with the longest run is Trolls, the DreamWorks Animation musical under the baton of Justin Timberlake. To date, it's taken in $333,179,715 ($151,277,527 domestic) and will likely nose into profits before all its distribution platforms have been exhausted.

Disney's Moana has been out since Thanksgiving, so far grossing a total of $450,094,182, half from the U.S. of A. and half from everywhere else. The picture will likely climb to $600+ million before its out of release.

Finally there is Sing, the latest from Illumination Entertainment, which arrived at Christmas and to date has $356,873,315 in the till. Sixty percent ($213,373,315) of its world gross comes from the United States and Canada.

No doubt about it. We're seeing serious cannibalization. (Not).

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Tyrus Wong Services

Tyrus Wong was many things. Builder of fantastical kites. Gifted watercolorist. Designer of the animated feature Bambi.

Beyond those things, He was a creator of wonderful Christmas cards and a longtime art director in live action and a man who lived to the ripe old age of 106. But as all mortals do, he passed away recently, and services will be held for him next week:

Dear Friends,

Tyrus's service will be held on Friday, Jan 13th, 2:30pm at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills. Please join us in celebrating his long and extraordinary life. The service is public, so please feel free to share.

Friday, Jan, 13, 2017 at 2:30pm

Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills - Hall of Liberty

6300 Forest Lawn Drive

Los Angeles, CA 90068

Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills overlooks the Disney Studios.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Mouse Returns To Its Post-War Roots

So Diz Co. released its movie slate for '17, and whattayaknow?

Most of its offerings are either A) animated productions or B) animated productions masquerading as live-action features. (Is this a 21st century version of the late forties? When the studio offered up hand-drawn shorts, compilation and hybrid animated/live-action features, and -- at the end of the decade -- was prepping the fairy tale Cinderella?)

In 2017, there's the (partial) live-action remake for Beauty an the Beast, where live-action and CG animation recreates the hand-drawn blockbuster of 1991. No further comment required.

And there's Guardians Of The Galaxy, Volume 2, which will be heavy with visual effects and digital sets and animated characters. But Chris Pratt is a live-action figure, so it (kind of) falls into the flesh-and-blood category. This baby will very likely best Pratt's other sci-fi offering Passengers, released to less than total audience enthusiasm the end of last year.

Then we have Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell Tall Tales (or something). Because there is a desire to keep budgets of these later episodes of the franchise in check, the CG animated effects might be be reined in a bit.

Walt Disney Animation Studios steps back in 2017 and Pixar comes forward with two releases. The first will be the third installment of the Cars franchise. Never underestimate the power of toys flying off the shelves to power multiple episodes of one of the Emeryville studio's weaker multi-part sagas.

Then near the end of 2017, Pixar releases an original titled Coco ...

... followed by the next episode of Star Wars. This will be Ms. Fisher's last installment, unless the producers decide she can become an animated character and continue on.

Yeah, there are non-animated elements in the release schedule, even a documentary. But if we're honest, the amount of pure animation and animation that's sprinkled among the real-life actors takes us back to those happy times when America and its allies had beaten the Axis powers and all was sunlight and flowers. And Disney, paddling fiercely to keep its small corporate head above water, was making animated/live-action movies similar to the ones we're seeing seventy years later.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Building An Original

Television animation goes with original material more often than not. Tut the feature versions of cartoons lean toward adaptations and sequels, which makes sense from a commercial point-of-view, since there are large budgets on the line and the chance of a major bomb is ever present.

So it's refreshing when originals get made, be they South Seas adventures centered around ancient myths, or stories about talking animals living in cities. And nice to read about the creation of all that:

... We went to Africa [for research on Zootopia, and we were camping about 30 yards from a watering hole, and we would see during the day, lions would come right in and drink next the gazelle and zebra they normally eat, and there was no funny business.

They would just go about their business, and they would part ways, because they needed something, just like different groups of people living together in cities. People need to work, they need to come to these cities to live, and they have to find ways to get along, so finding those kinds of key things that tied our own experience as human beings to the animal world, that’s where the movie got really deep and clever. ...

The strongest attributes of Zootopia? It works as a mystery with a twist at the end. As a police procedural. As a comedy. And as an allegory about life in the twenty-first century. Beyond all that, the visuals and characters are astounding.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

That Pesky Bargaining Pattern

From the Times several days back:

... The Directors Guild of America has approved a new contract that will allow its more than 16,000 members to take a bigger slice of a growing pie by boosting residuals while also increasing wages. ...

If three years of reuse of original content would yield less than $15,000 in residuals for a DGA member under the current contract, the amount would more than triple to $50,000 under the new contract, according to the guild.

The new contract also increases residuals for feature-length streaming movies and establishes for the first time residuals for DGA members whose content streams overseas. ...

The new contract will boost wages, with an increase of 2.5% in the first year of the agreement and 3% in the second and third years of the agreement. The deal also will increase employer contributions to the guild’s pension plan. ...

So what seems to be unspooling here?

Looks like the usual 3%/3%/3% happened, except the DGA took a half percent from year one and plunked it into its pension and health plans (and yeah, obviously I'm making an educated guess).

The way negotiations usually work, there's a certain amount of money on the table and the union/guild decides where it wants the moolah to go. Betting that's what happened at this negotiation.

Judging from the information that's been released, higher residuals are triggered by budget thresholds being hit. Live action thresholds. How this part of the DGA contract will impact the Animation Guild is hard to say, since the Guild doesn't receive DGA-style residuals. But live-action budget levels did nothing for animators in the last negotiations, since animation budgets are in a different universe.

This contract and others will impact the Animation Guild's next agreement come 2018.

What I Learned At The Rodeo

I spent 27 years and 3 weeks (but who's counting?) working as the Business Representative for the Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE. (That's a labor union for those wondering if such rare and exotic organizations still exist. And the term "Business Representative"? Which is a synonym for "union thug", if various politicians are to be believed).

What I found out doing the gig, in descending order:

1) You get what you have the leverage to get, and little more. (And it's useful to know, if possible, what your leverage is).

2) There is no "fair" and "unfair". Those words are sales devices. (See #1).

3) Employees performing free work is an ongoing reality of the animation workplace (and many other workplaces), loosely proportional to the fear employees have of losing their jobs. Sometimes free work is done when there is little risk of layoff. Then its usually done to keep up with other artists, the better to avoid some future, if indefinite, job loss.

4) Politics is always a part of the work environment. "Playing well with others" is important to mantining a health career, and some employees never learn this basic strategy. "Being right" takes a higher priority.

5) Studios usually hire good artists over great artists if the great artist is a constant pain in the backside. (See #4)

If the above sounds like things I've said at different times and places, it is. And you're welcome.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Box Office Muscle

That there are millions upon millions of views for "Sing" trailers might be good indicators the picture could do well, yes?

One more fine example of the overcrowded market for animated features (Not):

... Whistling a happy tune, Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures’ Sing has pulled in an estimated $24.3M in 56 territories through today. With a $97.8M offshore gross, the Garth Jennings-helmed pic will pass $100M tomorrow. It’s estimated that the worldwide total through Monday will be $281.3M. ...

For people keeping spreadsheets about how long-form cartoons are doing box office-wise, please note that Moana has taken in $355,781,943, and Trolls has taken in $330,261,850. both pictures continue in wide release. The Disney South Seas adventure is #4 at the box office, with $212,500,000 in the till.

Audience just don't get that they're only supposed to watch one animated flick a month, because cannibalization.