In Hollywood’s headlong rush to hit all four quadrants, animated movies have proven to be fruitful for the bottom line. Last year three animated films—“Frozen,” “Despicable Me 2,” and “Monsters University”—were in the top ten at the box office, earning roughly $1 billion total domestically. With more animated films getting positive reviews and the lines blurring between those and live-action films, filmmakers from the animation world are looking for more respect, and what better way to get more recognition than by stopping by THR for a roundtable discussion?
Yesterday the trade magazine posted a 41-minute-long discussion between Bonnie Arnold (producer of “How To Train Your Dragon 2”), Jorge Gutierrez (director of “The Book of Life”), Don Hall (director of “Big Hero 6”), Travis Knight (animator and producer on “The Boxtrolls”), Dan Lin (producer of “The Lego Movie”), and Tomm Moore (director of “Song of the Sea”).
As with the rest of the roundtables, this edition is an insightful listen, with the filmmakers concluding it’ll be a fool’s errand to try to pull off their own “Frozen,” with Knight saying, “Sometimes, things just capture the zeitgeist. And certainly it’s not something could re-create easily. And nor should they try.” Other topics brought up include the genesis of their respective projects and their thoughts on sequels, with Knight sounding off loudly on the subject.
“I just think that as a whole, sequels are killing our industry. When you go back to when I was a kid, the kind of films that I grew up watching were original ideas, bold voices, really challenging material. We don’t see a lot of that anymore. We live in an era of reboots and remakes and sequels and prequels; where old presents are rewrapped and offered up as new gifts,” he said. “It’s not to say that you can’t tell a compelling story in a sequel; you certainly can. We have ‘Godfather‘ and ‘Empire Strikes Back‘ and ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2.’ But if you think about storytelling generally, your film should be the most significant, most poignant moment of your hero’s life. And so the sequel automatically is a diminishment of that. As artists, we have to look at it and say, ‘Is this good for us in the long run as an industry to continue to churn out these same things?’ We get to an end of a trilogy, and then we restart that; we reboot it in another way. And at some point, we just become an echo chamber. Some stories are big and require a big canvas. And I think some stories should never have a sequel. And that’s why we will never do a sequel.”
“Yeah, but you know what? ‘The Temple of Doom‘ sucked,” Knight said to laughter when Lin suggested he wanted more of Indiana Jones after ‘Raiders.’ “As did ‘The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull‘ and ‘The Last Crusade.’ They should have stopped at one film.”
And to put the cherry on top of his argument, Knight concluded, “I think we as filmmakers need to challenge the conventional wisdom, the prevailing orthodoxy, and be champions for new ideas, new voices, new films.”
Watch the roundtable below and share your thoughts below.