Tonawanda News

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April 9, 2008

LANE: Computers may erase animators' presence

My daughter is only 8 months old, and she already has more Disney movies in her collection than I’ve seen.

That “back in the vault” marketing scheme works wonders, as family members and friends (and dear old Dad) have scooped up copies of “The Jungle Book,” “101 Dalmations” and other animated classics.

While the “Toy Story” series, “Ratatouille” and other computer-generated films are well-done (and dazzling to look at sometimes), there’s just something about the old-school, hand-drawn movies that’s special — perhaps the idea appeals to my youth, when I was a member of what might have been the last generation to grow up on Bugs Bunny cartoons.

Whatever the case, it appears that my sensibilities are about to be further antiquated.

In announcing its animated movie lineup through 2012, Walt Disney Studios officials said this week that all of their Pixar computer-drawn movies will be released in 3-D format in addition to traditional methods. The move comes on the heels of a push by four major movie studios — including Disney — to finance and equip movie screens across North America with 3-D projection technology, which is being done to entice more movie-goers back into theaters.

“We’re excited to be pushing the boundaries of 3-D and computer technology to tell our stories in the best possible way,” John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, said in a release.

No one can blame movie studios for evolving, especially in light of recent sales figures. North American box office gross increased 4.09 percent to $9.68 billion in 2007, according to Media By Numbers, but tickets sold dropped in 2007 for the sixth time in nine years. Attendance for 2008 (298 million through March 30) is down 2.56 percent from the same point a year ago, although the running gross ($2.12 billion) is up 0.7 percent thanks to higher ticket prices.

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