Remember a few years ago when there were two comedies about mall cops that came out around the same time? First, there was Paul Blart: Mall Cop, the Kevin James movie from Happy Madison Productions that came out in January of 2009. Then three months later, Seth Rogan starred in Observe and Report, in which a mall cop does a large number of the same things Kevin James does, only in a much darker setting. Neither movie was overly memorable, but it didn’t help that most people couldn’t tell the difference between the two until they sat in the theater. With that in mind, why in the world are their so many animated Halloween themed movies coming out right now?
Already in theaters is ParaNorman, the PG rated comedy horror film from Focus Features. It revolves around a young boy who has the ability to speak to the dead and the misadventures that go along with it. It takes note for being just the second stop motion film to be shot in 3D (the first being 2009’s Coraline from the same studio). Coming this month is Hotel Transylvania, which might as well be a Happy Madison production since it stars Adam Sandler and his usual crew of buddies. In this computer animated 3-D comedy, Sandler plays Dracula, who runs a hotel in Transylvania (of course) specifically for monsters on vacation. Everything is great until a regular American tourist (voiced by Andy Samberg) visits the hotel and zany antics ensue blah blah blah. Meanwhile, Disney steps to the plate in October with the first stop motion 3D comedy horror comedy movie since ParaNorman, with Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie. In it, Burton remakes his famous 1984 short film (of the same name), and is essentially Frankenstein as a dog.
Let’s make one thing clear, I am interested in seeing all of these movies and like the idea behind each one individually. However having them all come out at the same time is just too much. Going to work I saw a big billboard for ParaNorman while standing next to a bus stop with a Frankenweenie ad just as a bus passed by promoting Hotel Transylvania. I get that you want a horror themed movie to open around Halloween but all in the same year? One studio couldn’t have the foresight to sit back and be the only animated Halloween movie in October of 2013? How many of the same notes do you think will be hit in all three of these movies?
Beating a dead horse is nothing new in Hollywood (I’m looking at you, vampires). Could there be any more superhero movies right now? There was even a trend of villain themed animated movies in 2010 with Megamind and Despicable Me. But something about the volume and timing of these movie just doesn’t sit right with me. My fear is that because they are all so similar in style and theme (with Hotel Transylvania possibly being both the most different from the other two but ironically also the least original), none of them will do well enough in theaters and therefore we will see less of this type of movie in the future. I love the Wallace and Gromits and Nightmare Before Christmases of the world and want those styles to continue. Best case scenario has all three of them make money because they are all just so good that people have no choice but to go see all three. Considering limited budgets and limited free time however, I just can’t see many people committing to see the same type of movie three months in a row. Then again almost every superhero movie made money (sorry Green Lantern and Ghost Rider) so what do I know.
By the way, Monsters University hits theaters June 21st, 2013.