Outside the Bubble:
What the Main Street Papers Say

by Joan Kim

Here in the animation community, we hold high expectations for the animated feature film to break out of its "kid's only" realm. However, we, and our readers, might be a bit biased. Therefore, we went out to the rest of the news community to hear what they had to say. Finding the entertainment editors and movie reviewers from cities across the U.S., we heard their views about animation, and how they feel their readership -- a readership most familiar with Disney -- regards animation.

What is the main street speak about animated features? Are we breaking out of the "kids only" mold yet? These home town gurus with their ear to the ground break it down for us and tell us we still have a long way to go...

Kevin Cox, Datebook Editor
The Des Moines Register, Des Moines, Iowa

Animated feature films are viewed very highly, especially in Disney's case. Adults have come to expect high-quality, entertaining stories that they can take children to see. DreamWorks also has shown promise with The Prince of Egypt and The Road to El Dorado. Other studios' films haven't been so lucky (Titan A.E., for example), but they can't all be successful. The success goes beyond standard animation though, as the Toy Story movies have shown the promise of computer-animated movies.

I've seen only a few attempts at catering animated films specifically to adults. Princess Mononoke was the latest I can think of, and it was only successful on a small scale. Most of the adult-oriented animated fare has been on cable TV and direct-to-video, with many of those features based on comic book heroes like Batman and Spawn. In terms of animated films for adults and kids, films like Toy Story have been successful. Overall, I think the animated feature film is beginning to evolve out of the "kids only" realm, but it hasn't gotten very far yet in the eyes of the general public.

Larry Toppman, Film Critic
The Charlotte Observer, Charlotte, North Carolina

I think that box office totals show us that unfortunately most people regard animation as primarily for children. Good animated films that offer non-kid content, although they might be kid-friendly, are not really for kids and tend to get overlooked which I think is unfortunate. My feeling is that animated movies are for a wide, wide range of people and it is actually my favorite genre. I'll try not to get on my soap box, but if I had to take one genre to a deserted island that's what it would be.

I think animated films can be made that satisfy children and adults on different levels. Even something as simple as The Emperor's New Groove does that. It has humor for kids and humor for adults, but I think adults tend to ghettoize them.

I'm a dreadful predictor, but I think Emperor's New Groove will do well. Obviously Disney's name is the most potent selling point that you can attach to any kind of film, mainly any kind of animated film. The main interest in it is that there is a huge demand for the Disney name regardless of what is being offered under it. So, I think it will do well -- whether or not it grosses as high as some of the more kid-friendly movies like Tarzan, I'm not too sure, because it isn't particularly directed at young children.


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