Recalling November 21, 1997

Fox

Let us begin by noting that November 21, 1997 marked the wide theatrical release of Anastasia, the first feature from Fox Animation Studios and the ninth of the directing-producing team of Bluth and Goldman who co-directed for the first time besides producing.

The film performed well earning around $140 million globally and became the highest-grossing Bluth film ever. It even generated a direct-to-video spinoff Bartok the Magnificent.

Anastasia

 

That same year, Turner Feature Animation also launched its first effort Cats Don’t Dance. The next year, three more studios each debuted their hand-drawn efforts. They were Warner Bros. (Quest for Camelot), Nickelodeon Movies (The Rugrats Movie) and Dreamworks Animation (The Prince of Egypt).

But hand-drawn films proved no match for the groundbreaking success of Pixar’s early features from 1995-1999. The first two Toy Story films and A Bug’s Life each earned more than any of the aforementioned studios who were entering 2d filmmaking.

Then in 2001, Shrek and Monsters Inc. delivered the one-two punch out. The gargantuan success of those two films effectively ended 2D feature animation in the United Sates leaving sectators with the current single-technique feature animation industry.

Looking at Anastasia today, it’s seems that it is a time capsule from another era, a nostalgic look back at an exciting moment in animation history when all of Hollywood thought 2D animation was the future except for a spunky upstart in Richmond, California that had a different vision for the future of theatrical animation in the United States.