With a record six animated features scheduled between Memorial Day and Labor Day, The Hollywood Reporter predicts a “brutal animation war.”
In an article appearing in the June 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter, the venerated trade magazine points to “unprecedented glut of product,” writing, “By the time summer 2013 is done at the multiplex, Hollywood will have the answer to a billion-dollar question: Is there enough audience to go around?”
This summer's slate includes five studio 3D animated features, compared to the usual two or three that's been the norm since the late 2000s. There's also Sony's The Smurfs 2, a live-action/CG hybrid that will compete for the same dollars.
“This will be the strongest summer for animation ever,” DreamWorks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg reportedly said. "Everybody tends to forget that it takes four to five years to make these movies, so with more companies producing these films, and some with much more regularity, there are going to be more summers like we are about to have."
For the past handful of years, there have been roughly four or five studio animated films a year, along with a handful of independent titles. There are eight releases this year and 10 planned for next year, sparking a fierce battle for prime release dates between Disney and Pixar on the one side, and DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox -- now partners -- on the other.
Late last month, Pixar and Disney Animation dated a slew of untitled Pixar and Disney Animation Studios films through 2018, with one of them going up against DWA’s How to Train Your Dragon 3 on June 17, 2016. Fox Animation Studios set dates through 2018 with their own untitled films, planting one on June 16, 2017, a Pixar date.
The first 2013 summer title out of the gate was Memorial Day entry Epic, produced by Fox Animation and its longtime partner Blue Sky Studios. Pixar prequel Monsters University opens June 21, and Universal and Illumination's Despicable Me 2 hits almost two weeks later on July 3.
DWA's Turbo comes out July 17, followed two weeks later by Smurfs 2. Planes, a spinoff of Pixar's Cars franchise, opens 14 days after that on August 9. These films also will have to compete with other family-friendly titles including Man of Steel, The Lone Ranger and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.
Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.