Netflix Doesn’t Understand Animation’s True Potential, And It’s Definitely Not Boss Baby
The animation industry can’t take a break lately. While thousands in the industry are pushing for a #NewDeal4Animation, we have the Oscars viewing the medium as just a toy for kids, while big bodies like Disney are disrespecting the agency of their own. creators by supporting inhumane anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Now, Netflix has piled on by making massive layoffs in its animation department and shuttering several productions as its focus narrows on properties it doesn’t even own.
A new report from The Wrap delves into the very troubling climate of Netflix Animation, revealing that Director of Creative Leadership and Original Animation Development Phil Lynda alongside several members of their team were let go this week, marking a change. of strategy for the streaming giant as it moves away from projects in favor of reliable salons and properties with guaranteed returns. That means Boss Baby is the big thing now, which ironically Netflix is licensing DreamWorks to own content instead of outright producing it.
What was once seen as a stronghold for talented creators with increased budgets and increased creative control has become a shell of what it used to be, with many heavy hitters going to Disney, Cartoon Network or even rival streaming services. Apple TV or HBO Max. Times are changing and it sucks. Along with Lynda’s release, the cancellation of Lauren Foist’s Bone, Toil and Trouble and Roald Dahl’s The Twits also took place. We will see the latter return as a feature film, but it seems that other titles must find a place elsewhere, as Tuca & Bertie has been forced to do, otherwise they will be forgotten. It all looks like a short-sighted mistake.
As for Netflix, it would like to focus exclusively on family programming that attracts a similar number of viewers to Boss Baby, which has a new animated show premiering next month. That means more shows that appeal to young viewers and the lowest common denominator instead of actively taking risks and giving budget to talented creators who deserve a chance to realize their vision. Sure, some of these might appeal to a niche audience, or at the very least won’t attract Boss Baby numbers, but these are trade-offs you need to consider and work with in any medium. . Without risk, you enter stagnation and refuse to move things forward. Given Netflix’s size in the grand scheme of things, it’s a global powerhouse that should be pushing for such milestones.
Instead, we hear reports like this that rid us of hope and optimism as we gear up for another season of Boss Baby. I’m not saying shows like this don’t have merit, I know people who have spent years working on it, but animation is so much more than easily accessible programming designed for kids, and not realizing this is a sign of willful ignorance on Netflix’s part. Here’s a list of shows created on the streaming service that have helped advance the art of animation from both an artistic and storytelling standpoint, many of which were made possible because they exist in outside the usual constraints of network production and required syndication:
- She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
- Bojack Rider
- Glitch Technicians
- Carmen Sandiego
- The Cuphead Show
- Kipo and the Age of Wonders
- Love, Death and Robots
- inner work
- The Midnight Gospel
- Voltron: Legendary Defender
The list is long and the variety of genres, demographics, characters and stories found in all of these shows is staggering and only possible because animation is so malleable to our own approach to creativity. Anything is possible, but Netflix doesn’t realize it right now and is going the easy way. This news also comes after the company reported a loss of 200,000 subscribers in the last quarter, wiping billions off its overall value and forcing it to make some tough and seemingly stupid decisions. Making animation your punching bag won’t solve your problems, nor will canceling shows after a single season because they failed to build a decent audience. Things like this take time, and you can’t throw big productions on the wall until something sticks forever.
Animation can’t take a break, and I feel for the artists, animators, writers, production staff and so many others who work in studios trying to bring their passion projects to life to have a few costumes at the top take a look at a spreadsheet and decide that everything has to go. It’s important to break even and turn a profit, but by the time you’re ready to prioritize that above artistic integrity, you’ve already messed up, and I’m afraid Netflix will fail. embark on a path of no return. It feels like animation is both entering a new generation of creative ambition while continually being stifled by archaic business systems that fundamentally misunderstand what makes the medium so compelling. Maybe we’ll come to some common ground someday, but for now, we’ll just have to keep fighting.
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