Ranking This Year’s Animation Studios
Every year there are an array of animated films that hit the market. This year, for example, has been a mini box office war between Epic, Monsters University, Despicable Me 2, and Turbo. However, Escape From Planet Earth and The Croods saw success earlier in the year, too. We also can’t forget Smurfs 2 unfortunately happened. Later this week, too, Walt Disney will release Planes (with Frozen coming out later this year). Others, one example being Free Birds, come out, too.
Therefore, I thought I’d whittle down the most popular studios and rank them. Unfortunately, I’ve left less-established animation studios, like Rainmaker (Escape from Planet Earth) and Reel FX (Free Birds), off the list. I’ve also combined Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox together since Fox technically owns them both.
So it comes down to these six studios (in alphabetical order): 20th Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios, DreamWorks, Illumination Entertainment, Pixar, and Sony Pictures.
Illumination Entertainment takes last just because of lack of experience. If they continue to produce movies like the two Despicable Me ones, they’ll potentially climb the ranks. However, as of now, they just have four feature films (in order: Despicable Me, Hop, The Lorax, and Despicable Me 2). However, the future includes more Dr. Seuss adaptations, Curious George, and more.
Sony Pictures, if the studios were scored on an average, would be pretty close to the bottom. Their films aren’t necessarily bad, but they’re definitely more of the family variety. Marking all animated films as “family films” can be dangerous. However, Sony Pictures is trying to do that with their Smurfs movies, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Surf’s Up. They’re regularly G-rated which can be a problem in the eyes of critics.
Blue Sky Studios probably has a more prolific filmography with the Ice Age franchise, Rio, and most recently Epic. 20th Century Fox is kind of muddled because they’ve helped finance some great films (like Fantastic Mr. Fox), so I’m not sure how much of it is their doing. However, Anastasia is definitely a 20th Century Fox Production. Couple this with Blue Sky’s contributions and it lands about in the middle of this list.
I don’t want to accuse Dreamworks of quantity over quality…but they’re definitely taking the shotgun approach. Yes, there some great movies in the lot – The Madagascar franchise, some of the Shrek and Kung Fu Panda movies, and How to Train Your Dragon (or so I’ve heard) – but there are also a lot of duds. I still haven’t seen Turbo, but I’m hoping it’s better than not-so-great ones. Still, DreamWorks falls noticeably ahead of the other American animated studios, although it can’t crack the top 2.
Nostalgia almost puts Disney at number one. With Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, The Lion King, and so on, how can you not like Disney? I’m skeptical Planes may be a cash grab of sorts, but Wreck-It Ralph was the best animated film of last year in my opinion. It’s still up in the air, but not number 1…
…because that goes to Pixar. I almost feel like I need to explain myself more when I go with the conventional pick. Pixar has gone downhill in the past couple of years. However, when you peruse their filmography, it’s really hard to keep yourself from smiling from ear to ear. For my money, the Toy Story franchise, Up, and WALL-E all have legitimate claims for both best animated film and best modern film. They’re that good. Even the next tier of movies are better than “good,” putting the overall average above any other studio. I won’t rant about the more recent misfires, but I will continue to point to their award-winning filmography as case in point.
What studios have I missed? I mentioned some other studios, but Aardman, Studio Ghibli, Warner Brothers Animation, and more have legitimate arguments. What do you think?
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