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.
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.