Disney fans born before or during the turn of the century likely associate Disney’s animated films with a distinctive two-dimensional style. Beginning with Snow White, these animated movies have become a staple in most Disney fans’ childhoods. However, with the advent of Tangled, Disney animation would see a shift into a three-dimensional style of animation. Disney was not new to 3-D at this point. Before Tangled, there were films such as Bolt or Meet the Robinsons. However, Tangled marked the first Disney princess film to be animated in this style; the two-dimensional princess films concluded with 2009’s The Princess and the Frog.
The trend of 3-D animated Disney films has continued into the present. Most recently, the movie Encanto was released to a wide array of praise from both audiences and critics. While it would appear that 3-D animation is the current reality of Disney films, the two-dimensional style still holds a special place in our hearts. Here’s why the next feature-length animated Disney movie should be animated in 2-D instead of 3-D.
2-D Animation Is Beloved by Older Audiences
Now more than ever before, cartoons aimed at children are being designed so that adults watching can get something out of them as well. Examples of such in recent years are Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Disney is no exception to this trend, with the humor in their movies being able to appeal to audiences of all ages. On this note, however, adults who are intrinsically put off by animation need a push to help them watch the movie.
A Disney movie with 2-D animation would then appeal to the nostalgia of the adults who enjoyed Disney movies as a child. The animation style for them would be less off-putting and more inviting since they were intimately familiar with it at a young age. In terms of box office revenue, children will not be the ones buying their own tickets to the theater and going in just by themselves. They’ll almost always have an adult, and if Disney were to make their next movie 2-D instead of 3-D, more adults would be drawn willfully to the theater of their own accord.
2-D Animation Can Still Attract Younger Audiences
There have been a few children’s animated television shows that have ventured into a 3-D animation style. 2012’s Green Lantern: The Animated Series, 2002’s Jimmy Neutron, and 1994’s Reboot come to mind. Being years apart should be indicative of how children’s animated programming is sparse. As can be inferred, the rest is animated in a 2-D style. SpongeBob SquarePants, one of the most successful animated series of all time, is animated in this style, and long-running animated series such as Regular Show or The Fairly Odd Parents are also.
This is all to say that the audience for 2-D animation is still young and thriving. With the exception of 2020’s Earwig and the Witch, Studio Ghibli has successfully produced timeless 2-D animated films that are beloved across several generations. As anime grows more mainstream, the more accustomed audiences will become to its primary style, which is 2-D. Disney then does not face a huge risk of breaking the current mold and making their next film 2-D. Regular fans will, of course, still flock to it, and the children who make up Disney’s primary demographic will not feel alienated since the bulk of animation that they’re exposed to on television will look similar.
2-D Animation Will Feel Fresh Again
It’s no secret that audiences get bored with repetitiveness. And while 3-D animation is more of a style than a genre of storytelling, audiences will eventually crave something new. Or, at the very least, something new will become more appealing to them. While 2-D animated Disney films have been around a lot longer than 3-D ones, the current generation of children (assuming they were born in 2010) have likely grown up knowing only 3-D animation theater releases. In this case, 2-D animation will be a fresh take on the art form for them since they likely do not associate it with feature-length films that much.
The same can be said for adults whose reliving of childhood 2-D animated movies have been relegated to streaming services and DVDs instead of the big screen. Especially if said adults have children, they will likely not be accustomed to seeing anything without a third dimension in the movie theater. If Disney were to revive the 2-D style for their next movie, it would become a fresh experience for audiences, young and old.
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