In the December 2010/January 2011 issue of "Animation Magazine," I noticed this quote from the animation director of the "Yogi Bear" 3D movie extravaganza, Alex Orrelle, in response to a question regarding rebooting classic characters: "Look, we all roll our eyes every time a classic brand reboot is announced, but after we finish grumbling, we [the animation community] are happy for more opportunities to work in our craft. Ask the 80 animators [from Rhythm & Hues] who worked on Yogi Bear!"
I'm not sure how to feel about this. This dilemma exists in numerous fields: should one do crummy work for the experience and the resources to pay one's bills OR does one refuse to participate. I remember a quote years ago from Jodie Foster regarding her dearth of film roles after graduating from college. She said, "I decided not to do dreck." Not everyone is in the position to select that option. I'm personally torn. There is a value in getting experience even if it's in something crummy. I also wouldn't begrudge anyone making a living that doesn't involve criminal activities or negative results. Ultimately, the audience will determine if poorly created 3D reboots of classic characters is worth doing. To date, the Yogi Bear movie cost $80 million (not including marketing) and has earned $66 million. It could become a financial success once released overseas. But it seems to me that this did NOT capture people's imaginations. Which brings me to this next quote from the same article:
"As kids were very naïve, there was plenty of magic in watching two bears talking for seven minutes back then. In today's war for audience attention, that's not enough. Kids expect Yogi to be photo-real and reach out of the screen and poke them in the eye. The old Yogi and Boo-Boo of the 2D limited animation sitcoms don't automatically translate into a live-action family film, both in story and animation."
I find several things wrong here. First, if Yogi enthralled people in 2D back in the day, why would it not continue to enthrall in 2D today? Kids watch LOTS of 2D animation on t.v. Why is there this notion that something so basic needs a hugh technological updating? This isn't Logan's Run, a story set in the future therefore requiring technology to adequately realize the vision. Yogi was a hand-drawn cartoon. If it doesn't "automatically translate" outside of its original incarnation, why try to force it to fit this new form?
Second, notice he says "audience attention" not "audience engagement." Are we so "modern" that we require all of our visual entertainment to be in stereoscopic 3D? When watching t.v. or a movie, one doesn't look around oneself in 360 degrees. Instead, one sits in one spot (a chair) and stares straight ahead, focused on the action in front of us. It's not possible to swivel 360 degrees in a movie theater. If you look behind you, you'll miss what's going on in front of you! Who wants to spend their movie experience looking all around; we want to focus and to be engrossed. The images before us already have depth. Having objects fly out at us into our faces does NOTHING to enhance the experience. Zero, nada, zip, nilch.
Instead of these 3D movie-makers focusing on giving us a great story well-told, they give us a crummy, half-baked story combined with a vomiting of special effects.
The masses are speaking. Movie attendance was down in 2010 from 2009, which was down from 2008, and so on.
Let's focus on producing the best possible work instead of pooping out more cinematic crap! If we want long careers in the film industry, we have to consider the long-term implications of creating crap today that will convince audiences to stay home tomorrow. I've already put in place a personal moratorium for 2011; I'm not stepping foot in any theater for any movie. For the sake of the film industry, let's hope that others do the same.