We reached the end of an era. Cultural phenomenas all begin and end the same basically. They start off with one instance of something found appealing because it’s different. A couple of other people catch on and repeat the formula and have some success. Then suddenly the market floods with people trying (usually quite unsuccessful) to repeat the success and it becomes so saturated everyone grows tired of it and moves on. Companies lose money and people will sit back and analyze it to death trying to figure out what went wrong.

Now the above formula could apply to many things: The home video game market in the early 1980s, the dot-bomb of the late 1990s, the primetime game show explosion just a few years ago, and many others. But I’m not refering to any of these this time, I’m talking about something that’s happening right now: Computer Animated movies.

It was just a little over 10 years ago Toy Story premiered in theaters. The film met a great deal of success. The fick was made by Pixar, headed by then former, now current, Apple front man Steve Jobs. Pixar went on to have a great deal of success making more such movies such as Monsters Inc., Bugs Life, Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles.

But, of course, with success comes copy cats. They didn’t come that fast though. You see, computer animated movies were not only expensive to make but were also new territory. No one had experience in the field and therefor it wasn’t easy to duplicate.

Perhaps the real obstacle that would be hard to produce would be the writing. Pixar movies were actually cleverly written. It’s hard for people to write anything clever, especially something that could appeal to both children and adults.

It’d take 6 years, but the success was finally reproduced with Shrek in 2001. The computer animation, the celebrity voices, the clever writing. It was all there. Except one change. Shrek not only contained clever jokes, but also of plenty of slsapstick, low-brow humor, and, well, crotch jokes. People in Hollywood saw this and said, “We can do that!” The next couple of years were followed by films such as Shark Tale, Ice Age, Shrek 2, and Madagascar, all of which have had success.

Here we are now in 2006, and by my last count we have 10 computer animated movies due for release this year. All look to be full of “people getting hit in the crotch” humor. Disney will be releasing The Wild next month, which judging by a trailer looks exactly like Madascar (although with the amount of time it takes to make one of these movies it’s doubtful it’s that much of a rip off), Doogle was released just a few weeks ago has already revealed itself as a major flop, and even Pixar’s own Cars looks to be their worse.

The problem is that all of these films follow the same formula: Get celebrity voices, fill it with bad crotch and fart jokes, and don’t forget to have either fake outtakes or a music number during the ending credits. Even if one or more of these are good, no one will pay any notice because they all look the same.

Here, for your record, is a list of all the movies will be, or already have been in the theatre in 2006:
Ant Bully
The Barnyard
Cars
Doogle
Happy Feet
Hoodwinked
Ice Age 2
Monster Mansion
Open Season
The Wild

I should note that Curious George and Charlotte’s Web also come out this year. Curious George is not 3D animation however, and Charlotte’s Web, well I just don’t know. So far not much is known to me about this film.

Only time will tell how well these films can really do in such a saturated market. Steve Jobs sold Pixar to Disney earlier this year, perhaps he saw the writing on the wall. Now he can forget about the over crowded animated film market and concentrate on the MP3 market, which his iPod still over dominates.

Update 3/26/06: Another animated film has come to my attention. Over The Hedge (starring William Shatner!) comes out this May.

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