Saturday, December 14, 2013

Eyes on the Prize

DreamWorks has quite a lot of confidence in their upcoming Netflix series Turbo F.A.S.T., which is based on their unfortunate underperformer from this past summer, Turbo. The traditionally-animated series - a DreamWorks and Titmouse co-production - is set to arrive on Christmas Eve; now DreamWorks has a Netflix-based Croods series in the works as well, according to a Variety report on DreamWorks' latest ventures into television animation. It makes sense that this would be the next one in line, since the film was a huge hit for the studio. It's the second highest grossing non-sequel animated film behind Kung Fu Panda, with an impressive $587 million.

Teaming up with Netflix was a very smart move, because those 300 hours of programming will function as something of a little safety net for the studio since the high costs of their films proved to be quite detrimental to them recently. Again, the $145 million Rise of the Guardians lead to a schedule reshuffling and massive layoffs, Turbo created some more trouble after it failed to recoup its $135 million budget. Also, the company felt that making a show for Netflix was a good idea because it wouldn't impose the limitations that cable networks bring, thus the creators have some room to breathe - plus they want to have more ownership of their franchises.

This is very vital for their expansion. DreamWorks is trying to become something of an empire, looking into a television channel, theme parks and other things. Roughly $130 million films can't just keep them afloat, the aftermath of Rise of the Guardians certainly proved this. What they do, business-wise, is truly a big risk, and they're the only non-Disney animation studio making films that cost more than $120 million to produce. Blue Sky, Illumination, Sony Animation and Reel FX are wisely conservative with their budgets because they don't have a mega-corporation like Disney to back them up if a film fails.

Anyways, DreamWorks intends to build franchises with these shows and help sell more merchandise from apps to toys, which - in addition to video sales - could end up fueling theatrical sequels. Jeffrey Katzenberg also stated that home media sales and other things are factored in and that Turbo will be profitable, so it's possible that Turbo could become a full-fledged franchise thanks to the television show. Now the bigger question: Is Rise of the Guardians profitable now? I heard Blu-ray and DVD sales were pretty good, not sure about merchandise sales though. If they can make Rise of the Guardians a part of this new franchise extension strategy, that would be great. The film actually outgrossed Turbo both domestically and worldwide, plus it begs for a theatrical sequel more so than The Croods or Turbo, methinks.

The trailer for Turbo F.A.S.T. shows that it has potential, perhaps it'll do something really cool with the film's bizarre premise. The film shackled such a weird idea to the same underdog story we've seen before, perhaps the show will go all out with the idea of racing snails. That would be nice, plus the animation doesn't look too bad. After all, Titmouse produced it. Maybe this is what Turbo should've been to begin with, a TV series with a strange premise. It seems like you have more creativity with television animation these days, hence fare like Adventure Time, Regular ShowWander Over Yander and other off-the-wall and surreal shows.

I don't know, I think it looks impressive for what it is. Perhaps DreamWorks can add more to the worlds they have created with these new shows.

Maybe this kind of thing will open up new doors for television animation.

What do you think?

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