Studio Heads Comment on ‘Animation Saturation’ in Theaters

John Lasseter
John Lasseter

Disney/Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter, DreamWorks topper Jeffrey Katzenberg and Illumination Entertainment’s founder/CEO Chris Meledandri are among the top studio heads talking about the 2013 animation glut (11 wide-released animated features, up from six a decade ago) in today’s (Aug. 20) Los Angeles Times. The back-to-back release of titles such as The Croods, Epic, Monsters University, Despicable Me 2, Turbo and The Smurfs 2 have led to industry observers wondering whether releasing too many toons in theaters can result in family audience fatigue and shrinking box office returns in the long run:

Here are the highlights:

Chris Meledandri: “We’re all sitting at a very delicate point. Everybody has been able to survive so far, but as more films are planned, it’s inevitable that there will be more acute cannibalization off each other.”

Paul Dergarabedian, president of “There’s a huge number of animated films coming out,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box-office division of “There’s no question studios are going to commit huge resources to animation, but I think there’s a learning curve about how audiences react to films and how often they are released. Despite the fact that some movies fail, overall the animated genre is one of the most consistently performing. It’s been a pretty mighty profit center. As long as families keep making kids, studios are going to keep making these movies.”

Jeffrey Kazenberg: “We just ran into a perfect storm of way too many movies…We’ve never experienced this level of animation congestion in a period of time.”

John Lasseter notes, “The pool is big. The water’s warm.… The more the merrier. Some come in and make a bad movie. I like healthy competition. I’d much rather be in a healthy industry than be the only player in a dead industry.”

Planes / Turbo / Smurfs 2

Planes / Turbo / Smurfs 2

  • Kansas

    May this summer be a lesson to you, Jeffery Katzenberg, for your failure of Turbo! With all of your incompetence about your snippy and exciting features, I hope that audiences will NEVER appreciate your future releases anymore!
    Long live Pixar and Lasseter!

    • Lem Ming

      Yes. I LOVED “Planes” simply because John Lasseter had his name on it.

      I Can’t wait for Planes 2.

  • Aaron Sanchez

    I don’t think it is about a specific studio. Yes Turbo did not do too well, but the fact that there are quite a few animated movies being released is a good thing, in my opinion. Like Lasseter said, it is good competition and the more the merrier. I prefer to see a healthy industry than one full of studios that are afraid to green light projects based on the potential risk of loosing money. However, it is a fine line to walk between producing aesthetically beautiful films and films that have a good story, You can always have pretty but without good story you have a formula that will keep on disappointing audiences, despite the beauty and artistry of their films.

  • Andrea K Haid

    If animated films touched a wider variety of genres and were aimed at different age groups, then there would be no concern for “family audience fatigue”. No one complains that there are too many live action films in theaters after all and people are still going out to see those.

  • ranfan

    I didn’t really expect Turbo to do all that well. I mean look at what it had to go up against in the BO

  • J.K. Riki

    Don’t worry, there’s no glut of GOOD animated films, so if one releases it will have next to no competition.

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