Warner Bros. Feature Animation

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Warner Bros. Feature Animation was the former feature animation division of Warner Bros. Animation, established in 1994. The studio closed in 2004 after the financial failure of Looney Tunes: Back in Action.

History[edit | edit source]

In 1991, Warner Bros. distributed its first animated film, Rover Dangerfield. Its title character is a dog whose look and mannerisms are inspired by his voice actor Rodney Dangerfield. The film received mixed reviews and under-performed at the box office due to lack of promotion. In 1993, Warner distributed Three years later, Warner distributed Don Bluth's Thumbelina, which also received mixed reviews from critics and under-performed at the box office.

That same year, Warner Bros., as well as several other Hollywood studios, moved into feature animation following the success of Walt Disney Feature Animation's The Lion King. Max Howard, a Disney alumnus, was brought in to head the new division, which was set up in Sherman Oaks near the television studio in nearby Glendale. Turner Feature Animation, later merged and named Warner Bros. Feature Animation, like all of the in-house feature animation studios proved an unsuccessful venture, as six of the seven films under-performed during its original theatrical releases (due to lack of promotion).

The first of Warners' animated features was Space Jam (1996), a live-action/animated hybrid which starred NBA star Michael Jordan opposite Bugs Bunny (Jordan had previously appeared with the Looney Tunes in a number of Nike commercials). It was directed by Joe Pytka (live-action) and Bruce W. Smith and Tony Cervone (animation). Space Jam received mixed to negative reviews from critics but proved to be a success at the box office. Animation production for Space Jam was primarily done at the new Sherman Oaks studio, although much of the work was outsourced to animation studios around the world.

Before the success of Space Jam, a Turner Entertainment-run studio that spun off from Hanna-Barbera were already producing animated features following the success of the Disney features. The first was The Pagemaster, a fantasy adventure featuring the performances of Macaulay Culkin and Christopher Lloyd with live-action segments serving as bookends for the film's story. Released by 20th Century Fox, the film under-performed and received negative reviews from critics during its holiday release of 1994. After the merger with Turner and Warner Bros' parent Time Warner in 1996, Turner Feature Animation completed its second and last feature, Cats Don't Dance (1997), which was met with warm critical and audience reception but under-performed due to little marketing and fanfare. By the time of the film's release however, Turner Feature Animation had merged with Warner Feature Animation and transferred a majority of its staff from said studio.

The following year, its next film, Quest for Camelot (1998), underwent production difficulties and received negative reviews from critics, however its soundtrack (such as one of the songs, "The Prayer") received some accolades.

The third animated feature from Warner Feature Animation, Brad Bird's The Iron Giant (1999), received a positive reception from critics and audiences. However, the studio decided to rush its release to the end of the summer with a rushed marketing push.

The studio's next film, Osmosis Jones (2001), was another animated/live action mix that suffered through another troubled production. This time, the animation segments, directed by Tom Sito and Piet Kroon, were completed long before the live-action segments were filmed, eventually directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly and starring Bill Murray. The resulting film received mixed reviews and under-performed, although it was successful on home video for Warner's Television Animation department to produce a related Saturday morning cartoon, Ozzy & Drix (2002–2004) for its WB broadcast network.

Following the releases of The Iron Giant and Osmosis Jones, the feature animation staff was scaled back, and the entire animation staff - feature and television - were moved to the larger Sherman Oaks facility.

Looney Tunes: Back in Action, was released in 2003. It was intended to be the starting point for a reestablishment of the classic cartoons brands, including a planned series of new Looney Tunes theatrical shorts, produced by Back in Action writer and producer Larry Doyle.

After Back in Action, directed by Joe Dante (live action) and Eric Goldberg (animation), received mixed reviews from critics and under-performed at the box office, production was shut down on the new shorts and the studio closed down. However, several TV series based upon the Looney Tunes property, Baby Looney Tunes (2002–2005), Loonatics Unleashed (2005–2007), The Looney Tunes Show (2011–2014), and Wabbit (2015–present) have assumed the place of the original shorts on television.

Warner Animation Group is the successor of Warner Bros. Feature Animation.

Filmography[edit | edit source]

Feature films[edit | edit source]

# Title Release date Co-production with Animation service(s) Budget Gross RT MC
1 Space Jam

[S]

November 15, 1996 Northern Lights Entertainment
Courtside Seats Productions
Warner Bros. Family Entertainment
Bardel Entertainment
Stardust Pictures
Heart of Texas Productions
$80 million $230.4 million 37% 59
2 Quest for Camelot May 15, 1998 Warner Bros. Family Entertainment Yowza! Animation
A. Film A/S
Heart of Texas Productions
$40 million $38.1 million 36% N/A
3 The Iron Giant August 6, 1999 Duncan Studios (Signature Edition) $70–80 million $31.3 million 96% 85
4 Osmosis Jones

[S]

August 10, 2001 Conundrum Entertainment
Warner Bros. Family Entertainment (uncredited)
Yowza! Animation $70 million $14 million 55% 57
5 Looney Tunes: Back in Action

[S]

November 14, 2003 Baltimore Spring Creek Productions
Goldmann Pictures
Lonely Film Productions GmbH & Co. KG
Yowza! Animation
Mercury Filmworks
$80 million $68.5 million 57% 64
SCombines live-action with animation.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Posters[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

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