Media FX News Archives
- March 3, 2001
- A Look at PG Rated Animated
- Shrek Given PG Rating by
- A Look at Final Fantasy X
- News Link of the Day
- High-Tech Oscars Go the Distance
at PG Rated Animated Film Challenges
A Special Digital Media FX News Feature
(by Joe Tracy,
publisher of digitalmediafx.com) Over the past few years, the
majority of PG animated films have faired very poorly at the Box
Office, including DreamWorks The Road to El Dorado, released
last year without any other animated or PG-rated competition.
mature animation enthusiasts are praising animation studios for
taking on "PG" ratings, family audiences appear to be
deserting the idea at the Box Office where it counts the most.
To date, DreamWorks
only highly successful animated film is the G-rated one they distributed
from Aardman - Chicken Run.
the only PG-rated animated film to have success at the U.S. Box
Office in recent history was Disney's Dinosaur, which was
strongly anticipated by all audiences due to the "state-of-the-art"
nature of the movie and the wide popularity of dinosaurs. Disney
marketing also did an excellent job at setting up Dinosaur
as a must see "event" versus just a movie. The appeal
reached far beyond just parents with children.
up claims that G-rated animated films do much better in theaters
and on video than PG-rated animated films. A detailed study commissioned
by The Dove Foundation found that G-rated movies have a higher
rate of financial returns than PG movies. Why? Because all families
feel safe taking children to see G-rated films while they are
much more reserved about taking children to see a PG rated film.
A comprehensive study of all MPAA ratings produced the following:
1: The study by Kagan Media Appraisals, commissioned by The Dove
Foundation, found that the return on G-rated movies is far higher
than any other rating, including PG.
2: From The Hollywood Reporter on January 26, 1999 in an
article titled, Study: G-Rated Films are the Most Profitable:
"It's well known that G-rated films do better on video as
well. Animated films, in particular, can be reissued over decades
and generate substantial revenues with no foreseeable limit. The
G-rated video market is driven by parents who purchase the videos
for their children."
Well known film critic and radio talk show host Michael Medved
commented on the study saying, "The Dove Foundation report
should put an end forever to the argument that the forces of the
market place require film makers to exploit violence, sex or harsh
language in the never-ending search for a box-office 'edge.' This
fascinating study proves that the real edge in Hollywood goes
to competently crafted family entertainment."
But that doesn't
stop studios like DreamWorks from continuing towards the "edge"
with animated films.
So if G-rated films and animated movies are proven to be much
more successful and more widely accepted than PG-rated animated
movies, why is the market being flooded with more risky PG-rated
Today on March 18, 1999 in an article titled, Want an Oscar?
An R Revs Up Your Chances: "When aspiring young talent
emerges from film school, these Tinsel Town wannabees never fantasize
about someday creating wholesome, wildly successful family fare
like The Lion King or Mr. Holland's, Opus. Instead,
they hope to emulate 'artistic' filmmakers like Martin (GoodFellas)
Scorsese or Woody Allen -- despite the fact that such admired
artists seldom (or never) turn out big-time moneymakers."
like DreamWorks, are ignoring such studies and continue to churn
out risky animated features that carry the PG mark. While watching
studios like Fox Animation Studios close due to such gambles,
DreamWorks continues to focus on PG-rated animated films. Yet
DreamWorks need only look within its own company to see the problem
King of Dreams
DreamWorks direct to video animated release of the G-rated
Joseph: King of Dreams has not only seen very strong sales,
but it has also won more awards than all DreamWorks PG animated
The DreamWorks distributed G-rated Chicken Run movie is
the highest grossing non-Disney animated movie of all time. The
strong story and great characters were able to reach a maximum
audience with the G-rating. Meanwhile, DreamWorks PG-rated animated
films, like The Road to El Dorado, have bombed at theaters
even when faced with no competition from other studios.
within its own studio doesn't bring the problem to light, looking
to other animation studios will. The most successful animation
studio in the industry is currently Pixar, which has mastered
the art of telling strong animated stories with an appeal to the
maximum possible audience. The payoff is huge in theatrical Box
Office returns, video sales, and merchandising.
Can a PG
Animated Film Succeed?
It has yet to be proven that a PG animated film can succeed at
the Box Office. Even Disney's well received Dinosaur didn't
bring in enough money at the Box Office to match the expenses
(even when you remove the marketing costs) of creating the film.
And perhaps in this aspect there is a challenge. Who will be
the first to have a mega profitable PG rated animated film released
in the US?
It is likely
that Shrek will be that film because of its look and because
DreamWorks is spending more money marketing it than any film it
has ever released, including Gladiator. DreamWorks will build
Shrek into an "event" film and will likely do
well as a result.
to the MPAA, a PG rating for a film officially means "Some
Material May Not Be Suitable for Children." And for that
reason, a number of parents refuse to take their children to PG
movies. So for a PG-rated animated film to succeed it has to appeal
to a wide spectrum not aimed at children. But that isn't always
easy. Titan A.E. tried to appeal to teenage boys and flopped
so bad at the Box Office that Fox's studio chief was forced to
resign and Fox Animation Studios was closed down. The Iron
Giant was a well crafted PG-rated animated story that received
outstanding reviews from nearly every film critic and those who
viewed it. Yet the audience never materialized despite strong
word of mouth that has carried many other films which lacked strong
Interestingly enough, the release of PG-animated movies does appear
to be serve a vital purpose within the industry. If all animation
studios released G-rated animated films then the market could
end up being over saturated with G-rated animation movies, creating
a dilution effect. Last year's release of the PG Road to El
Dorado, Titan AE, and Dinosaur helped bring balance
the the many G-rated releases (i.e. The Tigger Movie, Chicken
Run, and Fantasia 2000).
support the balance issue, John Evans, President, Preview Family
Movie Review said the following about The Dove Foundation study:
"I can visualize that if the industry shifts very heavily
to G-rated films this could over saturate the market with
films that appeal to the whole family. There should also be decent
films produced for teenagers and adults that may not appeal to
young children. Ever After: A Cinderella Story and Star
Trek: Insurrection are two such examples."
animated, Ever After: A Cinderella Story was rated PG-13.
And although it was an unexpected hit at theaters, Fox discovered
that even more people would have seen it if the rating had been
PG - particularly since the live action film appealed to families.
So Fox edited the film (by removing one vulgar word) before releasing
Ever After to video in order to secure a PG rating. Sales
were a solid hit.
may well be serving an important purpose in the animation industry
with its continued release of PG animated movies - prevent
over saturation while testing the waters. While such tests
have failed before, Shrek could hold a bit of "PG
magic". Even without the pixie dust, the studio heads may
know something that researchers don't know. Then again, all that
matters in the end are the wallets of the movie-going public.
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Given PG Rating by MPAA
(by digitalmediafx.com) DreamWorks upcoming animated adventure,
Shrek, has been given a PG-rating by the Motion Picture
Association of America. The PG rating is "for mild language
and some crude humor."
is the first of 3-4 possible animated movies to receive a PG rating
this year. Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire may fetch
a PG rating; Osmosis Jones is likely to get a PG rating
(for the exact same reasons as Shrek); and Final Fantasy:
The Spirits Within is almost guaranteed to carry a PG or PG-13
movies expected to get a G-rating this year are Pokemon 3,
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, and Monster's, Inc. Disney's
Recess: School's Out animated movie (currently playing)
is also rated "G".
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Look at Final Fantasy X
A Special Digital Media FX Inside Look!
Squaresoft's Final Fantasy X role playing video game is becoming
widely anticipated because it will be the first in the Final Fantasy
series to be released on the new Playstation 2 platform and it
will be the first to be released after the Final Fantasy: The
Spirits Within movie opens nationwide.
it is widely anticipated, this new entrance into the popular series
has its share of problems unrelated to gameplay. The game has
been delayed from a March release to a June release in Japan.
Speculation for the delay is financial difficulties from an expected
$29 million Squaresoft Japan earnings loss for last year. The
official word from Squaresoft on the delay, however, is that they
are simply improving the gameplay to better take advantage of
Playstation 2 capabilities.
Fantasy X has yet to be released in Japan, preparations are already
underway for the U.S. release, expected in late 2001. The two
main characters names have already been changed for the U.S. version
to Tidus and Yuna.
major change that players will likely notice in Final Fantasy
X is the increased use of speech throughout the game. The Final
Fantasy X development team has expanded the overall use of voices
throughout various stages of the game. The voice segments will
also contain text subtitles.
X will be presented in a modern fantasy setting. The developers
tend to skip around from version to version, many times placing
the game in a fantasy past or fantasy future. Prerendered backgrounds
are now a thing of the past as Squaresoft is presenting Final
Fantasy X in a 3D polygon environment.
about the story is still very limited. There are a few major "gods"
including a water goddess and fire god (both pictured in the logo)
that play major roles in the story. In addition, the story apparently
takes place in a "waterworld" type setting where most
of the planet has been covered with water. A lot of the adventure
will be based within the water. Gamers will likely be controling
three heros at a time. The battle system will remain similar to
Final Fantasy IX, but will work in different ways (particularly
when it comes to magic).
have a hard time finding detailed strategy coverage once Final
Fantasy X is released. Apparently, due to continued financial
problems, Squaresoft is planning to begin demanding royalty fees
from magazines who publish strategy guides for Final Fantasy X.
Squaresoft's huge financial loss last year has resulted in them
putting future Final Fantasy movies on hold. Prior to the
financial disclosures, Square Pictures had been working on concepts
for movies after Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.
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of the Day - High-Tech Oscars Go the Distance
According to The News Factor Network:
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has long recognized
technical achievements by pioneers in the movie business, but
this year marks the first time that the winner of an Academy Award
for 'outstanding scientific and technical achievement' will get
an actual Oscar statuette.
Oscar -- which is also the first Academy Award given specifically
for the development of a software program -- will go to Ed Catmull,
Rob Cook and Loren Carpenter of Pixar Animation Studios for developing
the 'RenderMan' program..."
here for the full story.
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