Regarded as one of the most memorable and critically
acclaimed films of all time, Who Framed Roger Rabbit was the standout animated
film of the 1980s thanks to its seamless blend of live-action and animated
This pioneering approach was complicated and, naturally,
costly. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was the most expensive film ever made until
then with a production budget of $70 million. Thankfully this deft blend of
film noir and cartoon mayhem managed to reap a total box office draw of almost
$330 million worldwide and secure a place in ever animation fans heart.
What would have happened if the film had, through
some deus ex machina, managed to flop spectacularly?
Would the spike in popularity that many classic cartoons
received as a result of exposure in the film have never occurred?
Would the concept of blending live-action with animation
have been as taboo in Hollywood as CGI was for a decade after TRON’s mediocre
Would Disney’s much lauded renaissance starting with the
Little Mermaid the following year have been met with a more muted response from
both the studio and public?
Would Disney itself have seen out the end of the century
after being hobbled by losses from the film?
Lastly, would CGI have come to prominence even sooner if
traditional animation became tainted by a Roger Rabbit-shaped failure?
Of course the film has stood on its own merits since its
release and has overshadowed Robert Zemeckis’ last animated feature, Mars Needs
Moms. That film, it could be argued, has hobbled motion-capture to such an
extent that only an effort like James Cameron’s Avatar could even hope to
Aren’t we thankful that it wasn’t preceded by Who Framed
Charles Kenny writes prolifically on his own blog, The Animation Anomaly.