Nobody has raised the issue yet, but it has to be only a
matter of time before does. What is it? The impending VFX-infused bubble that
the box office currently finds itself contained within of course. It can’t
continue forever, but can true animation capitalize on it’s eventual downfall?
It’s surely coming too. Almost ever film released today has
some degree of VFX animation contained within. Even apparently ‘mundane’ films
like Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, which contained plenty of
relatively ordinary scenes was awash with VFX sets,
backgrounds and touch-ups. Truer yet are the plenitude of superhero and
tentpole films that ooze VFX from every orifice necessary or not; and I can say
with all certainty that Cinderella needed every visual trick in the book to
distract from a mediocre story and characters.
Such films prove that animation in an extreme sense is
palpable to the general public in genres other than comedy. The question is
whether animation as an artform can fill the void when these live-action films
run out of road (Furious 7 reference intended).
And they will run out of road with the public sooner or
later. As surely as westerns, musicals, and Shrek spinoffs before them, the few
genres that tentpoles and other VFX extravaganzas occupy will eventually lose
the currently impregnable commercial appeal. When? Nobody knows. It could be in
5 years, or even next year; but it will happen at some stage.
When it does, hopefully animation, true animation, will
still be around to take its place. Animated films have been yearning to have a
crack at tackling different genres for decades, but have never had the
commercial promise because live-action was the less-risky option for studios.
As live-action melds into VFX, the expectation gap that animation has to jump
gets smaller, and the difference in risk disappears.
So when audiences do eventually start searching around
for something new, wouldn’t it be nice to see animated films rally to appease