Five years after the mad stampede that saw practically every Hollywood studio trying to claim a piece of Disneys animation pie, the dust has settled and the remaining players are pretty much as expected: The two top wannabes, Fox and Warners, have shuttered or dramatically scaled back their animation plans after having released a series of expensive duds. Left standing tall are Disney, Dreamworks, and Pixar. And with SHREK and TOY STORY 2 having become two of the highest-grossing animated films ever made, there seems to be a subtle shift taking place within the animation field. One only has to look at the grosses of the last three 2-D releases from Disney and Dreamworks (THE EMPERORS NEW GROOVE, THE ROAD TO EL DORADO, and ATLANTIS). Combined, they have grossed less than either SHREK or TOY STORY 2 have on their own.
It seems likely that computer animation will continue to further erode the popularity, as well as the viability, of cel animation, Like digital projection, it won't happen overnight, but as Pixar, Pacific Data Images, and Disney itself concentrate more and more on less-costly CGI projects, the spotlight will inevitably move away from cel animation. And Pixar is already gearing up to meet the challenge with four new films slated to be released annually, starting in the summer of 2003.