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Animation/Will Hollywood ever go back to making theatrical 2-D animated films or shorts and releasing them commercially on a big budget?


QUESTION: Hi again Russell, how are you? I am posing a question about the future of Hollywood animation. Technically this is a question on animation history, so I am hoping you can help.

I am curious. I know 3-D animated films are what's in nowadays. There's a slew of them coming out this year. Will Disney, Warner Bros., or any of the other major studios go back to making 2-D animated films and shorts and releasing them commercially on a big budget? 2-D animation is still being made but it's being produced with the aid of computers- 2-D hand-drawn animation that is scanned, inked and painted digitally or produced with programs like Flash. As far as I know the only 2-D animated films and shorts putting put out now gets released to video- and are produced with the aid of computers in the manner I said above. Unfortunately I don't think too many people know about such projects since they aren't being released commercially. Computers help 2-D animation get made a lot faster and cheaper; they help cut down on production costs and time. With the aid of digital tech that is available to use, what is stopping studios from producing any 2-D animation now and releasing them commercially in theaters? Please help- thank you.


ANSWER: Hi Jason,

Some people still making 2D hand drawn animated films for the theater are in Japan and France and Ireland.

Check out "The Illusionist" and "The Triplets of Belleville" Directed by Sylvain Chomet.

Ernest & Celestine

and of course anything by Hayao Miyazaki.

The US doesn't seem to be interested in making 2D for theaters. Television still has lots of  opportunities for producing 2D animation but, the actual animation is sent overseas to China and Korea to be done so, the only work done here is the writing and storyboarding.

The US is losing its talent for making hand drawn animation because no one is getting that experience anymore here and us "Old Timers" that learned from the masters of Disney and Warner Bros. and Fleischer aren't passing our knowledge down to the "New Guys".
Only Pixar seems to have captured the feel of real animation in its 3D movies.

The only thing that's stopping the studios from making 2D hand drawn films is short sighted producers that know nothing about animation and just want to make a quick buck. Animation is a blend of commerce and art. It's a bit off balance now and art is on the losing end of the equation.

Hope this helps.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Well I read an article about the film Rabbits Run. a Looney Tunes film that is loosely based on the Looney Tunes Show. That was a 2-D animated film that came out last year and was released to video and the article said WB doesn't even know how to handle their characters in a film like this now.

Who in Hollywood is supervising such projects?

I am just curious.

Before that Disney came out with The Princess and the Frog- I think that is the last major 2-D animated film Disney is planning on doing.

I haven't really been keeping up with what's going on in the animation biz- I haven't studies animation in years. Thank you for your help and input.


Hi Jason,

Warner Bros. puts out direct to DVD videos which are usually 2D hand drawn on a regular basis.
Disney does the same with some of their TV productions.
For some reason everybody is stuck on 3D CGI animation.
I do like the hand-manipulated stop-motion animation done by Laika and Aardman.

Look to Europe for traditional hand drawn animation.



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Russell Calabrese


Technical questions about hand drawn and computer animation techniques and production. Historical questions about cartoons and animation.


30+ years as an Animator, Director and Producer of Television, Feature, Commercial and Independent Animation.

Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Senior Governorof the Animation Peer Group) Executive Board Member of The Animation Guild ASIFA Hollywood

SVA, Rutgers University

Awards and Honors
Emmy Award winning Director 2007 "Where's Lazlo?: Camp Lazlo"
Emmy Award winning Director 1999 for "Steven Spielberg Presents Pinky and the Brain"

Past/Present Clients
Warner Brothers, Disney, Cartoon Network

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