“It’s Not About Disney Anymore,” Claims Nickelodeon CEO

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Credit: ITM

It is not an exaggeration to state that Walt Disney Studios has seen better times as far as profits from their films. In the last year, they have had several movies bomb at the box office. The most notable failed projects have been Lightyear, Strange World and Elemental. Even their live-action projects like the fifth Indiana Jones and even the new Haunted Mansion are not expected to give the company the revenue boost they needed this year. The company has been set to lose a total of $900 million. Many competitors easily claim that Disney’s best days are behind them with these string of flops. Currently, the CEO of Paramount Pictures/Nickelodeon has now stated why the future of animation will no longer remain with Disney.

Credit: Variety

Disney has held a clear monopoly in animation since their Renaissance with The Little Mermaid in 1989. In the 1990s, Warner Brothers Animation was its main competitor as they churned out cinematic classics such as, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Cats Don’t Dance, The Iron Giant, and Space Jam. Amblin Entertainment also came out with animated films like An American Tail, Balto, We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story, and The Land Before Time. While these non-Disney entries rivaled Disney Animation, they could never eclipse them at the box office long term.

Shrek (left) Donkey (right) DreamWorks
Credit: DreamWorks

DreamWorks Animation would become a heavy-hitter in the late 90s and 2000s with animated works that included, The Prince of Egypt, The Road to El Dorado, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon. While Shrek (2001) was the first film to win in the Best Animated Picture category at the Academy Awards, Disney has led the winner column with 15 wins since the category’s induction.

New Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem trailer
Credit: Paramount Animation / Nickelodeon Movies (via YouTube)

Nickelodeon/Paramount Pictures CEO, Brian Robbins, has been in the process of reinventing the company by investing in artists. He has bankrolled Tom Cruise with any project he wants to risk his life for, to resurrecting Oscar-winning franchises like Tony Scott’s Gladiator 2. Presently, he has been capitalizing on Paramount’s animation division with the updated take on the heroes in a half shell, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. Robbins confirmed that the brand needed more ‘adolescent anarchy,’ so he hired comedy duo, Seth Rogen and his partner, Evan Goldberg to create a fresh take on an old brand.

'Transformers: Rise of the Beasts'
Credit: Paramount Pictures

The director-turned-CEO expressed that his faith in Rogen/Goldberg with this project is so sound that he has greenlit two seasons of a supplemental TV series that will connect to the upcoming blockbuster. He professed that studios’ passivity to only make sequels and superhero movies has led to diminishing returns. While Paramount’s recent Transformers: Rise of the Beasts movie has only grossed $427 million, Robbins explained that result was due to the change in the Chinese marketplace due to political tensions.

The gaang from Avatar The Last Airbender as adults for the new movie
Credit: Nickelodeon/Paramount

Robbins has even chosen to double-down and push through the economic downturn. He will continue to focus on expanding rich brands in animation, like “SpongBob SquarePants” and “Avatar: The Last Airbender” as the future of cinema continues to change. He ultimately disclosed that, “It’s not about Disney and Pixar anymore. People are looking for animated movies that are irreverent and have a comedic point of view.”

Wade and Ember sit in a theater in Elemental
Credit: Pixar

He truly has the belief that the failures of Disney Animation are rooted in an overly formulaic story structure that they pioneered at their peak. Robbins’ claims were provocative, but his predictions have yet to be seen until studio executives first solve the problem of resolving the Writers and Actors strikes.

What do you think of Robbins’ comments? Is he right? 


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