The Walt Disney Company and Covid-19

The Walt Disney Company, founded in 1923 as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, has weathered almost a century–persisting through major wars and crises. The Walt Disney Company’s ability to adapt to situations and engage with its audience during crises has allowed it to persevere. 

The Disney Bros. Cartoon Studio was founded by Walt and Roy Disney in the fall of 1923.

The Company has often taken positive action to help during times of hardship such as during World War II when the Company had almost 90% of its animators producing war-time propaganda. So the company has shown its ability to engage with situations, though that example is a dated one.

They have also shown their ability to adapt, for in the face of the death of Walt Disney, a man so important to the company they had a life insurance policy on him for investors, the company was able to find a new creative groove. Now The Walt Disney Company, under new management after the recent departure of CEO Bob Iger, faces a new challenge; a world on lockdown while the deadly coronavirus pandemic grows.

Can The Walt Disney Company persevere through this new terrifying moment in history?

Disneyland and Disney World

Outside of Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., on March 14–the first day of the closure amid coronavirus fears.

On March 12th 2020, The Walt Disney Company announced the closure of the Disneyland and Disney World theme parks due to spreading fears of the Coronavirus Pandemic in the United States. The precedents for the closure of the Disneyland park in Anaheim are the day of mourning after the assassination of JFK on November 25th, 1963 and September 11th, 2001 due to fears that the parks could be targeted.

The closure of the parks is a reflection of just how bad this crisis has become, for as the barometer of the precedent shows, the moments in history when the parks have closed have been truly monumental. Points in time that have irreversible altered the world that we live in. The world was never been the same since the assassination of JFK, and it has most definitely been made unrecognizable after the attacks on September 11th. 

Josh D’Amaro, President of Walt Disney World, waves good bye to guests as they close the park on March 15th due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Today the parks stand empty until further notice, and according to the New York Times the Disney Company has already lost $175 million due to the closure of its China parks–though they are starting to reopen–and is set to lose a great deal more with the temporary closures of parks, cruise lines, and stores in the United States. 

A temperature-check station is set up at the Shanghai Disney Resort as they begin to reopen shopping and restaurants on Mar. 10.

Though Disney will be taking a major hit to their financials in the coming months, they were willing to take the necessary steps to comply with Governor Gavin Newsom’s orders in the State of California when he asked for no gatherings over 250 people back on March 12th. While some companies have resisted closures, like GameStop–claiming themselves as essential businesses–Disney has not resisted and has closed down stores across the country. While it is simply them following requirements, it is still more than some companies have done.  

Similar to GameStop’s resistance, Knott’s Berry Farm–another Southern California theme park–resisted Newsom’s orders and took four days longer to close its doors than Disneyland. This period of time, though short, put not only the public, but Knott’s Berry Farm workers, at risk. Disney has shown willingness to simply do the right thing in comparison with other companies.

Current Film Productions and Upcoming Releases

Beyond the parks, Disney productions have ceased work across the world. The Last Duel, Home Alone, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and The Little Mermaid have all stopped shooting, as well as all the upcoming Disney Plus Marvel television shows. Not only has production halted, but films completed and slated for the summer months like Mulan (2020) and Artemis Fowl have been pushed back or cut from the schedule entirely.

Though Disney held the World Premiere of Mulan (2020) in LA on Mar. 9, the film’s release date of Mar 27 has been pushed back.

These productions shutting down mean that thousands of people are out of work: entertainment workers who now have an inability to find new opportunities while they wait out this crisis. However, closing down production will protect these workers from risking their health. Disney once again was forced to close down and suffer the consequences of financial loss in order to do the right thing by their workers. 

Alternatively Warner Brothers committed to maintaining its production schedule and begin shooting their big projects like the third Fantastic Beasts film on March 16th. Again, four days after Disney shut down production, Warner Brothers decided to shut down as well. It seems that Disney has been leading the pack of entertainment companies when it comes to fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Shelter-in-place Impact

With more people staying home, and movie theaters closed, Disney has also postponed all of its upcoming films. Disney warned in an SEC filing, a report for Wall Street, that the shelter in place orders could have a major impact if the prolonged shutdown changes the way we interact with their products. The report stated that, “our businesses could also be impacted should the disruptions from COVID-19 lead to changes in consumer behavior.” 

Our businesses could also be impacted should the disruptions from COVID-19 lead to changes in consumer behavior.

The Walt Disney Company SEC Form 8-K, Mar. 19, 2020


These changes being that consumers, once the shutdown is over, begin to interact with Disney products in a way they did not before. Maybe people are less willing to go to parks with the fear of disease and health risks burned into the public’s mind in the aftermath of this pandemic. Maybe people never really return to movie theaters after they reopen, and big Hollywood productions are forced to release streaming services. We are living in a moment where everything is in flux, and the future of Disney is very much at risk.

Under New Management

Bob Iger and Rupert Murdoch sign a $52.4 billion deal for Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox

At this incredibly unstable time, a management shift has also thrust Disney into a position of greater instability. CEO Robert Iger stepped down from the position on February 26th. Iger, who served as CEO for 15 years, came from ABC and guided Disney in their acquisitions of Pixar (2006), Marvel (2009), Lucasfilm (2012), and 20th Century Fox (2019). He also oversaw the creation of Disney Plus. As he steps down he will remain at the company as Executive Chairman, but Bob Chapek is now the CEO of the company.

The Disney Vault is a system of putting animated feature home releases on moratorium.

Bob Chapek is most famous for his implementation of the vault system at Disney. The vault system, which has met with major criticism from Disney fans, is a system of releasing and holding back animated feature productions; so that they can sell VHS versions, DVD versions, and Blu-ray versions of films while maintaining a demand for the product. Bob Chapek will most likely shift the company away from acquisitions of other content to withholding and reselling the product that already exists. 

Chapek’s strategy of the vault system will not benefit Disney currently as they push for Disney Plus. The only strategy that can work is to provide all their back catalogue as a base library on their new streaming platform, and work with the vast amount of IP they have amassed through acquisitions to create new easily recognizable and appealing content.  

So while the changes that result in the consumer behavior from this pandemic and shelter-in-place could negatively affect Disney in the short run, Disney is poised–with Disney Plus–in a better position than most media companies to adapt to the changing consumer behavior. If people are quarantined in their homes they will be moving to the digital space and not the theaters.

Services like HBO Max and Peacock are too late, but Disney has an opportunity to bring in a huge amount of members to their service while people are stuck in their homes.

The Future and Disney Plus

Disney Plus was released in the United States on Nov 12, 2019 to more than 10 million subscribers.

Disney has just released two of its biggest films of the year–Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) and Frozen II (2019)–for purchase on digital platforms like iTunes and scheduled early releases for them on Disney Plus. This feels as though Disney is testing the waters for possible releases of major films on the Disney Plus platform. If people come to the platform for Frozen, maybe they will come for Mulan (2020). While Mulan (2020) would not recoup its budget being released on Disney Plus, it would benefit from membership increase in the long run for the platform. 

Right now is the time for Disney to be pushing their streaming platform, and that means taking risks on major film releases on the platform. It is time for Disney to adapt to the crisis; Disney’s audience is trapped at home, so the only way to reach them is through Disney Plus. While we may not be getting out of this lockdown anytime soon, Disney should  buckle down and take major risks on their streaming service. If Disney wants to succeed in the future they need to embrace that future.

A hand sanitizing station set up at the Disneyland Park and Resort, Mar. 12, 2020.

Stay safe and healthy.


https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/12/business/disneyland-coronavirus.html

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2020-03-13/disney-studios-halts-production-coronavirus-mermaid

https://thewaltdisneycompany.com/leaders/robert-a-iger/

https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/13/20963172/disney-plus-subscribers-10-million-star-wars-marvel-pixar-launch

http://wcsa.world/news/world-almanac-event-academy/wcsa-on-this-day-october-16-2018-disney-brothers-cartoon-studio-founded-in-1923

Foreign Film & America: Language and Ethnocentrism

There is a recognized attitude for American audiences to dislike or ignore a film because it is subtitled, joked about in film and tv, it made me curious about the whole bias against international cinema in the states and why this is accepted for the average consumer of content. Why are viewers of “foreign films” classified as either pretentious or scholarly, why are more films not theatrically released like Parasite, and what does the “I can’t watch while also read” attitude imply about american’s perception of what is “foreign”? My first thought is that, of the top film producing nations, The United States is far more used to having everyone else speak english in addition to their native language. However, there is little expectation or standard for Americans to be multilingual, thus in the media consumed by Americans, we have a similar expectation for the media to be produced in our language.

One place to begin looking into this is formal recognition of a film’s excellence, aka awards. The Oscars represents the American standard for which films released each year are the “best,” and though problematic in many ways, reveal much about what America deems worthy. Steve Rose wrote for the Guardian a piece about Roma, and believes “the foreign language Oscar is already a messy afterthought. It was not created until the 29th Academy Awards in 1956, although special awards were given to foreign films before that. Only one entry per country is allowed.” It is already flawed that there is only one category which international cinema is truly addressed and it was not until Roma and Parasite that they were considered for any categories besides this. There are some other opportunities in shorts and documentaries, but feature length fiction films from other countries or in other languages are typically oddities at the red carpet. To elaborate upon what it means to be considered a “foreign film” is also an interesting and highly biased conversation. Hannah Giorgis for The Atlantic goes in depth about the very recent policy change made by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Basically, since its inception, the foreign film category required the film to have 50% of the language be not English. While on the surface this seems good in encouraging more linguistic representation, it has other downsides about how “foreign” is defined. Giorgis argues this is not considerate of films produced outside the US where English is now one of the primary languages due to colonization and globalization. She notes that Lionheart, a Nigerian film which includes many Nigerian Languages but uses English to tie them together, as well as The Farewell from South Korea, but neither were accepted as Foreign Films to The Oscars. This brings up many issues about identity, what is not foreign enough, what qualities make a film not American? Is it the amount of crew who are non citizens? Is it simply the language like The Academy likes to think? Is it any film produced and filmed outside the US or released theatrically elsewhere? There is a lot to consider, but our standard of what is foreign is flawed fundamentally. The Academy has since renamed the category best International

This brings us to the conversation about subtitles and language once again. Even if language is not a good indicator of where a film is from, it is important to recognize how rare it is for a subtitled film to succeed or be released on a wide scale. In the UK, it was 2% and shrinking of the box office, hinting to the fact that even in Europe where there is much more connection to other countries and language, exposure and mainstream viability of non english films is extremely low. For the American market, Indiewire repots a drop in revenue by 61% in the past seven years. And it has continued to decrease in popularity even on streaming, they say as well. Though there is no definite or concrete way to measure why this is, it is concerning as far as it’s impact on expanding horizons of americans during this global age. If such a tiny amount of externally produced media is reaching audiences, I am not optimistic that the american sensitivity and interest in other languages, cultures, and creators will increase.

sources:

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2019/11/oscars-international-foreign-language-film-lionheart-controversy/601630/

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/feb/18/alfonso-cuaron-roma-and-the-oscars-why-has-hollywood-ignored-the-foreign-language-film

https://www.motionpictures.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/MPAA-Theatrical-Market-Statistics-2016_Final.pdf

https://www.screendaily.com/box-office/box-office-analysis-foreign-language-films-in-the-us/5096804.article

Zootopia & Stereotypes

When Zootopiawas released in 2016, it was not only praised for its originality and entertainment values among audiences, but the film was also regarded for its challenge of basic stereotypes through the portrayal of the animal kingdom.

Judy Hopps 

At the beginning of the film, the audience is introduced to Judy Hopps, an ambitious bunny who dreams of becoming a police officer. Already, she is set apart from her meek, carrot-farming family who is primarily concerned with growing their own family. In the same way that bunnies in the real world simply look cute, reproduce, and eat carrots, Judy’s confinement to this stereotype of being a gentle prey stands in the way of her being taken seriously by the police force and her own family. Despite her completing the police training and joining the force, she is still seen as token member of the team, incapable of competing with the predator officers who are larger and “tougher” than her. 

Throughout the entire film she is consistently underrated and has to go the extra mile in order to prove herself. Her character reflects the prejudice the many women face in the workplace today. Though these women might be qualified for their positions, they are required to work twice as hard to prove themselves. 

https://www.vox.com/2016/3/7/11173620/zootopia-review-racism

Nick Wilde

“These stereotypes [also] impact how these animals view themselves; for instance, Nick [Wilde] behaves slyly only because he knows he is seen that way by the public eye.” Because he is a fox, he is automatically labeled dishonest. The friendship and partnership between Nick and Judy through the film is initially hindered by labels. He makes comments about her status as a bunny, whereas she constantly questions her friendship with a predator who could potentially be letting her down. Ultimately, Nick becomes a police officer offer himself and rises above the labels that try to paint him as cunning and deceitful.  

Savage Predators & the Twist Ending

The entire premise of the film follows Nick and Judy as they find out why certain predators have gone “savage.” When we find out that Bellwether was behind the scheme the entire time, we understand how she manipulated the negative stereotype that predators have, by forcing them to be violent, to secure her power and control over Zootopia. In our world today, stereotypes are used to divide us and pit us against each other. And if we are pitted against each other, people in power can remain secure in their control.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Zootopiasucceeds in reigning in a new era of animated movies that not only aim at representing a more diverse population but tackle many pressing issues that are embedded in our society today. As a film that can appeal to both children and adults, the many layers of this film and the message that it tells about stereotypes is what truly sets it apart. The way Zootopia seamlessly integrated entertainment with a meaningful message should inspire you to be creative and purposeful in your own work. Additionally, I hope this film allows you to view all content on a deeper level and uncover the true meaning behind certain messages for yourself! 

The Sexism Within Barstool

Barstool Sports is a famous and well known sports and pop culture blog founded by David Portnoy in 2003. Within Barstool Sports is also Barstool Smokeshows, a page and blog dedicated to posting, praising, and sexualizing skinny and pretty college aged women. Around many college campuses, it is not hard to find a barstool “Saturday’s are for the boys” flag proudly billowing or an embarrassing drunken video taken from a party being shared on platforms such as these. Although the company began as a way to discuss college life and sports, it has snowballed into a sexist and unfunny company which promotes and pokes fun at sexual harassment, racism, cyber bullying, drunkenness, and idiocy. Barstool creates a culture of toxic masculinity by sharing and praising men taking advantage of woman, making sexual comments, becoming physical with others, or drinking and doing drugs.

https://www.wcvb.com/article/barstool-sports/7800558#

A large reason for why Barstool is both unfunny and cruel towards women and minority groups is the lack of female representation on the writing and creating teams. Very few women work or write for Barstool and those that do are often harassed sexually or verbally. Little action is taken against the assaulted and those in positions of power, creating a sense of fear to discuss such attacks and disregard for those that are reported or occur. For example….

Because the writers and creators of Barstool’s content are one dimensional, often white, hyper masculine men, the content that is created is geared towards the same audience. There is little respect or room for non offensive, racist, or sexist humor and commentary. The woman that do work for this company often serve as visual props or objects to lure more men into viewing this content, rather than working alongside their male counterparts to rebrand the companies culture and image (even the merchandise Barstool creates is sexist, as seen by their misogynistic tops and tapestry’s). If women however were given a voice within this company, it would be extremely beneficial to barstool. Being more inclusive of different genders, races, sexualities, and cultures would increase Barstool’s views and fanbase. Jokes would be funny and relatable without being sexist or offensive. Barstool has a large influence on the young men who consume it, and thus should make sure to post content that does not reinforce rape culture and toxic masculinity.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/inside-barstool-sports-culture-of-online-hate-they-treat-sexual-harassment-and-cyberbullying-as-a-game

Deaf Representation in Animation, a Sign of a lack of Sign Language

Animation is an amazing medium to communicate stories and human experience through. Animated films can have a major impact on the people who watch them. With all of this potential reach animation has, you might think the people who create these films think about the audiences they are putting their content out to; however, this is not always the case. While there are fantastic stories created with animation that portray minorities well, or touch on serious topics, one major area is often overlooked when it comes to animated film and tv. There is a lack of representation of disabled persons, specifically deaf people, in animation.

Disabled Character roles?

People with disabilities are usually not shown in animation, and when they are, it is often not a main character. This lack of representation is upsetting because children who watch these shows will not have a character to look up to who is like them. It is important that companies who make far reaching film and tv start pushing for more diverse content that normalizes these disabilities to show these children they can have a great life like anyone else. Quasimodo (shown below) is one of the very few disabled characters in any animated film or show that is not only a main character, but is portrayed in a way that shows how human he is and the kindness in his heart.

Even in modern film, there is a lack of representation. The recent movie The Peanut Butter Falcon was a major step in the right direction. The main character and actor has down syndrome and the actor was able to present at the oscars, which was the first in history.

Quasimodo, Hunchback of Notre Dame

Is being Deaf a disability?

There is controversy about whether or not being deaf is an actual disability. Due to the physical difference, it is categorized as one because most people can hear. The Deaf Community does not always agree with this. Studies show that deaf people can grow up and be just as socially mature, intelligent, and well-adjusted as their hearing peers because the disability does not have to do with cognitive ability. Deaf people see this “disability” more as a difference and protest that they are just as capable as any hearing person. The way deaf people are taught and treated also has an impact on this. Deaf people who grow up learning sign language learn the same as hearing people, just in a different way. A deaf person who grows up being forced to learn oral skills and lip reading can often struggle being in hearing schools and feel ostracized or left out. This video about a girl in hearing school is a great example of this how animation can tell a story like hers in a way other mediums couldn’t.

Lack of Representation

Whether or not you as an individual consider deafness as a disability, it is still underrepresented in animation. Watchmojo.com put out a list of the top 10 deaf animated characters in tv on their website, and almost all of them were minor characters on shows that are not well known at all. Not only does it make deaf people seem weird to hearing children or children who do not have direct experiences with disabled people, but it can communicate to those children who have disabilities, or are deaf, that they can only be side characters in life. Even when researching about deaf representation for this blog, there was a severe lack in information and research. Most of the articles were written by upset mothers or college students in papers for their classes. It is clear that this issue is not really being considered or looked into. It is sad to see such an important topic to be overlooked. When searching on the internet about Sign Language specifically in animation, the only topics that came back were about technology, not stories.

Animation is currently being used to teach sign language. Apps, such as Mimix3D, and technological advances (shown below) have allowed people to create various ways of capturing ASL in a 3D space that people can use to learn the language. This is an amazing tool, but unfortunately is not well known. The information on these technologies can only be found easily if you are looking for it. While this is great, it is still upsetting that the stories behind deaf people are not portrayed. The apps do not teach about the vast culture or individual experiences like animation could.

Video of this kind of technology

Companies need to make a change

If major companies, such as Disney or Dreamwork’s Animation, started creating more content that featured disabled people, the industry would start to change. Right now due to the lack on representation, people are not really thinking about the issue or considering it. If a company with power made a compelling story about someone with a disability, it would bring light to the issue and might help motivate people to discuss these topics more, normalizing the content and creating a real difference. It is disappointing at this point in the current state of the world that there is still such a lack of representation for minorities or people with disabilities. Animation has endless possibilities and should be used in that, pushing the envelope on storytelling instead of retelling basic stories without representation.

Sources: –

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/talking-apes/201802/is-deafness-really-disability

https://www.ocweekly.com/disney-urged-to-animate-disabled-characters-so-disabled-children-have-role-models-6475623/

https://watchmojo.com/suggest/Top+10+Animated+Deaf+TV+Characters

By Christian Boggs, Senior Animation Major at Loyola Marymount University.

Oscars Winner Shares Harsh Reality of Current Day Discrimination

On Sunday, February 9, the short film, “Hair Love ” won best animated short film at the Oscars. Former NFL player, Matthew A. Cherry, accepted the award stating, “‘‘Hair Love’ was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation, and because we wanted to normalize black hair,’ Cherry said from the Dolby stage on Sunday.’” (TheWrap)

https://www.thewrap.com/oscars-matthew-cherry-wins-best-animated-short-hair-love/

However, as beautiful and tender the animated film is, it sheds an important light on a big issue that has prevalent in America for some time– the discrimination and and hatred based on hairstyles of black men and women, young and old.

Cherry utilizes his voice and platform to bring attention to the Crown Act, a law in California, New York, Montgomery County, Maryland and New Jersey that protects against discrimination based on hairstyle by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles in the Fair Employment and Housing Act and state Education Codes.

https://www.thecrownact.com/

The CROWN Act,which stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is a law that prohibits discrimination based on hair style and hair texture.

Across America, both full and part time working black employees and students face discrimination based on their ethnic hairstyles. It affects their ability to work and study in order to make a contribution to the growing workforce and education system in the U.S. The discrimination that they face unfortunately proves that racism did not suddenly end after the anti-discrimination acts in the 1970s. It continues to occur in both schools and workplaces for many black people. The style that they choose to use for their hair unfortunately dictates whether or not they are capable of working, studying, and even raise a distraction for their white counterparts.

The Sony produced short film brings attention to this issue at an event that is watched by millions of people all over America. This proves the power that animation has in spreading an important and impactful message to viewers in the United States. Animated films are not made only for the purpose of entertaining children, but to focus on pressing issues in both the U.S. and every other country in the world. The possibilities are endless with animation. Matthew A. Cherry and Sony utilized this power to spread an important message about the ever prevalent issue that is currently happening in the U.S.. 

It is with their hope and mine that audiences take away the significant issue that can be resolved by Congress. Currently, it is legal to discriminate against a person in the workplace or in schools because of their natural or protective hairstyle in all states except for California, New York, and New Jersey. Hair discrimination remains a source of racial injustice with serious economic consequences for Black people. A petition was created by the CROWN Coalition to help end this discrimination in the Workplace and Schools.

https://campaigns.organizefor.org/petitions/help-make-hair-discrimination-illegal

Access to the full short film on Youtube:

Cats: CGI Abomination

You’ve probably heard of the movie Cats, and might have even had the unfortunate opportunity to see it in theaters. But for those who haven’t it’s essentially the story of a group of cats who compete through song for the coveted prize of dying first.

So in more depth, every year at the Jellicle ball, Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench) has to make the Jellicle choice. The Jellicle choice is basically which cat gets to die so they can be reincarnated into a better life. So throughout the movie the cats perform musical numbers about themselves to show why they should be picked. Theres also a villian cat named Macavity (Idris Elba) who tries to sabatoge the other cats so he can die first instead. In the end the cat who wins is Grisabella (Jennifer Hudson), a cat that used to be popular but is now old, washed up, and sad winning through her song “memory” where she reminisces about the old days. As such Grisabella gets to ascend into the Heaviside Layer (Cat Heaven).

Cats: The Musical

I think when they were making this movie, they were also reminiscing about the old days. Cats the movie is a spin off the widely successful broadway musical Cats. The musical for Cats is estimated to have grossed around 3.5 billion by now. The musical and the movie both share the same plot but the musical has been around since 1981. The pull of the musical was its strangeness, it was praised for costume and set design, its ability to send the audience into a fantasy world, and also for the constant action that the musical performances brought. Cats is a good indicator that to do a successful remake, it takes more than just switching out the stage costumes for uncanny valley CGI.

Despite the star cast and successful musical predecessor Cats the movie was a flop. And a spectacular one at that with the currently estimated loss being around 100 million at the box office and a 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. Cats the movie has different layers of bad, too many to unpack. From the song that Rebel Wilson cat does where she eats roaches with CGI human faces, to the song that Jason Derulo cat does about being sexy in a “milk bar” since cats don’t drink beer. Here is perhaps maybe the most cursed moment in the film where not only does Rebel Wilson eat a roach but also peels off her skin to reveal clothes underneath.

Also with the CGI fur some critics did think that it was a bit strange that some of the cats wear clothes for their regular outfits (i.e coats, pants, etc) while others do not. Stranger still that most of the cats not wearing clothes were those played primarily by the younger actresses.

Another one of the interesting things to come out of it was the fact that the movie was patched while in the theaters. Patching a movie is rare but not uncommon, so if you were lucky enough to see Cats when it first came out you might have caught Judi Dench’s human hand.

It is believed that they did not want to delay the release because they wanted to be Oscar nomination eligible, as if releasing an unfinished version of the film would somehow make them eligible. There was a bit of worry that at least for CGI animated films, other movies might try to something similar where they release unfinished versions as well. But hopefully, no other animated film will try to follow in the steps of Cats.

If anything we can only hope that Cats can serve as a warning as what NOT to do for a CGI remake.

Sources:

https://www.theverge.com/2019/12/23/21034843/cats-film-updated-digital-fur-technology

https://www.vox.com/2019/7/19/20700223/cats-movie-musical-explained-remake-why-what-is-a-jellicle-cat

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2019-12-24/cats-movie-taylor-swift-francesca-hayward-idris-elba

Journal

In 2019, leading animation films had more female characters than ever. An article from variety discusses the different leading characters from animated films that were released the past year.

Films with unforgettable characters include “Toy Story 4”, “Frozen 2”, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”, and “Missing Link.”

The field of animation has finally recognized that both boys and girls show up to watch animated films. When girls used watch these films and saw a lack of representation of themselves in the top rated films, it was discouraging and heartbreaking. However, boys saw plenty male superheroes and leading characters, which was great for them. However, it is realistic to add more female characters because just as many girls watch animated films as boys.

It is progress to see more animated films showcase powerful female characters, such as Anna and Elsa from “Frozen 2”. It is empowering for females to see themselves on a big screen, which is exactly what we need in today’s generation. More and more women are becoming involved in the entertainment industry, in hopes to make a strong impact on the community.

The Rise of Independent Animation on YouTube and Social Media

With the predominance of large animation studios such as Disney or Cartoon Network in the film and television industry, independent animation has had little to no chances to flourish at all, up until the past decade with the rise of YouTube and social media platforms.

The internet has breathed new life into independent animation, as it allows a much more direct connection between animator and audience. There is a much greater opportunity to see content unfiltered by large corporations with agendas, which have opened the gates for a new wave of creative and amazing animations, and even studios, to rise up as solid competitors to larger names.

The first and most recent example of a successful independent studio is Spindlehorse Cartoons, founded by Vivienne “VivziePop” Medrano, who produced two full-length pilot episodes for two of her own passion projects: Hazbin Hotel and Helluva Boss. Hazbin Hotel had been in production for roughly 4 years, and managed to create a full 30 minute episode with freelance animators and crowdfunds from fans of her work.

In just two days, the pilot received over two million views and became an instant hit for adult animation. The show also featured many different characters of diverse gender, race, and sexuality, as the creator had always intended for the show.

Much of the show’s success can be attributed to numerous livestreams that were held prior to the pilot’s release, which showcased the animators and the voice actors interacting with fans while working on the show. The interaction Spindlehorse Cartoons has with its fans is something larger corporations could never hope to achieve.

The success of Hazbin Hotel has also inspired other animators to begin producing their own cartoons, such as Ashley Nichols (who worked on Hazbin Hotel) who recently announced her latest project “Hell Puppy.”

Another successful and long-time veteran to YouTube is Corridor Digital, which actually produces live-action content with high-quality visual effects.

The channel was originally founded by Sam Gorski and Niko Pueringer, two friends who were passionate about making short films with visual effects. As of today, the Corridor channel consists of 9 employees, and has produced 2 television shows, 1 feature length film, 5 commercials, and hundreds of short films.

Corridor also created the viral video series “Bosstown Dynamics,” a parody of Boston Dynamics’ robotic engineering.

Many people were fooled to believe the video was real, with the impressive motion capture work they achieved using the skills they had been refining for the past 10 years. The channel has also found success with their new series, “VFX Artists React,” where they take popular movie and TV scenes and break down how the VFX shots work, or how they do not.

Social media has opened up a massive opportunity for new animators and filmmakers to make the content they’re passionate about, and not the same formulaic films seen in the past few years. Audiences are finally starting to see content they find relevant again, thanks to the direct connection they can have with creators.

With this new platform for creators, the future of independent animation looks bright.

https://www.corridordigital.com/

http://whatculture.com/tv/hazbin-hotel-review-the-surprise-indie-animated-hit-of-2019

https://sva.edu/features/animation-is-magic-sva-alumnus-vivziepop-on-perseverance-inspiration-and-hazbin-hotel

https://www.outerplaces.com/science/item/19376-how-corridor-digital-created-a-viral-sensation

https://www.presspubs.com/st_croix/news/article_d25cec95-d3de-5ec0-b3b5-cc8dfc6fb26e.html

Journal

I recently read an article about the controversial opinions that professionals in the animation industry have. Many illustrators, animators, and producers responded to Twitter thread, voicing their opinion on the industry and how it can improve. A specific tweet was made by Josh Weinstein,

He focuses on the issue of the common and simple way of categorizing animation– “kids animation” and “adult animation”. The art of animation goes beyond those two categories and is much more than being made for just two different age groups. It is an expression of thought, ideas, and messages that are not always targeted to just kids or adults. The point is beautifully conveying a story that hopefully anyone can see and understand. It should not be about what age group it is being made for, but what the story tells and why it is being told.

Animation can fit into any genre or category such as comedy, drama, romance, action, horror, etc.– not just kids or adult animation. When people refer to animated short/film, they should not refer to it as a kids or adult animation, but what the animation is actually about and what genre it would fit into.

Each animated film is unique in its own special way, and should be treated as such. Going beyond calling them kids or adults animation will give respect to the workers that took time to produce and create a film that carries meaning, ideas, and profound thought.