Disney and Pixar have parted ways with the Annie Awards, with the studios saying they will no longer sponsor or submit for the event, reports Variety.
Judging is the main issue behind the split, according to a statement from Disney-Pixar president Ed Catmull, who told the trade paper:
‘After more than a year of discussions with the ASIFA board, we have regretfully decided to withdraw from the organization and no longer participate in the annual Annie Awards. We believe there is an issue with the way the Annies are judged, and have been seeking a mutually agreeable solution with the board. Although some initial steps have been taken, the board informed us that no further changes would be made to address our concerns.’
Disney has been a sponsor of the awards, run by ASIFA-Hollywood, since their inception in 1972. What impact Disney’s refusal to participate will have on the Annie Awards remains to be seen. The studio has the longest and most prestigious animation pedigree in the business today. The prestige and credibility of the awards would be highly questionable without the participation or inclusion of Disney and Pixar projects.
According to , the key issue was judging. In previous years, the ASIFA membership was open to anyone who paid the membership fee and therefore could bias the results. Such charges reached a peak after the 2009 Annie Award results saw DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda sweep the awards and shut out Pixar’s WALL-E. However, such criticisms don’t explain Disney and Pixar’s success at the Annies, having won seven best animated feature Annies in the past 12 years compared to two wins for DreamWorks.
As a result of such concerns, ASIFA-Hollywood did restrict voting in the upcoming edition of awards to members who qualified as animation professionals. Variety reports that Catmull was not satisfied and had instead wanted an advisory panel of executives from each studio to gather and recommend rule changes to ASIFA.
While Disney and Pixar will not provide any institutional support for the Annies, its employees are free to continue to participate and submit work on their own as they see fit, according to an email Catmull sent to the employees.
That could allow the Annies to continue with Disney and PIxar films represented, ASIFA-Hollywood chief Antran Manoogian told Variety. ‘The Annies are about honoring the best in animation, and we will continue to do so,’ he told the trade. ‘The awards are set up in such a way that the nominating committee can put a nominee on the ballot even though it hasn’t been formally submitted.’