Star driven animation vs. character driven animation

I was reading an article on “The Terminal” where it was speaking about how Spielberg and Hanks both work well together, and it mentioned Dreamworks SKG, where Spielberg was the “S” in SKG. I couldn’t remember who the K or the G were (Jeff Katzenberg and David Geffen for those who care), so in finding the Dreamworks website, I found out about Shark Tale.

Putting aside any similarity to another fish movie, it made clear to me again the differences in Dreamwork’s style of animated film and Pixar’s style.

Take the advertising for Shrek: “Hey we have this animated movie, with Eddie Murphy, Mike Meyers and Cameron Diaz playing the lead roles, and by the way there is a story somewhere in there.”
Then you have Monster’s Inc: “Hey we have this great story with monsters in the closets, and oh yea, by the way Billy Crystal is playing one of the characters.”

Completly different marketing stratagies, and also different goals as a movie.

Dreamworks has it’s focus on it’s talent that it brings into it’s movies. It wants the stars names to drive you to see it. Go for the stars, and it’s a bonus that the movie might be good. Pixar on the other hand is so story driven that it’s the characters that matter much more than the actor that plays them. Not to say they don’t get top rate talent, and that they don’t push them, but for an example see the latest trailer for “The Incredibles,” the latest Pixar movie coming soon. Do ever really get to see who is actually playing these characters? No, it’s focus is on the creators of these great stories that you remember, and the quirky new one they have created, not Will Smith as a fish!

This isn’t to say that I don’t like Shrek. It was a fun movie, and I will probably watch it again someday. Sure I’ll also see Shrek 2 and possibly even this new Shark Tale movie. For me, at the end of the day I care more about what happens in Pixar movies and where the characters end up when the movie is over. For some people, it’s different, and that is why Dreamwork’s movies do so well in the market.

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