Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Vanguard Animation

Vanguard Animation was founded in 2002 by producer John H. Williams and Neil Braun. Vanguard quickly signed a contract with Disney to produce four low budget films. This was when Disney was looking for another option besides Pixar. As you can tell by not knowing the name Vanguard Animation, it didn’t work out. The studio has released three films theatrically and are still around, though I’m not sure how. Their one and only film released with Disney was Valiant, a movie about birds that helped soldiers in WWII. While it was distributed by Disney, it was not in anyway made by Disney, which is why you don’t really hear it mentioned. It is definitely not part of the Disney canon. The film had a small budget for a CG film and not a lot of animators to work on it, so production had to be crunched into 106 weeks. This rushed schedule led to a “cheap” look according to critics. The movie got terrible reviews, but did alright at theaters. It didn’t, however, make enough to make Disney want to keep them on, and they backed out of the contract.

Vanguard relied on European companies to keep their productions going, with their next being Happily N’Ever After. Though it did boast a pretty impressive voice cast, the film was critically panned and made $11 million less than its budget. Their next, and so far last film, was 2008’s Space Chimps. It’s about exactly what you think it is. It made a serviceable amount, but not enough for the company to break even. Again, they somehow got a pretty good voice cast, but it seems that even the crappiest animated movies manage to get a few big names. Easy paycheck! While not as universally derided as Happily N’Ever After, Space Chimps received pretty bad reviews, the exception being Roger Ebert, who enjoyed it for what it was: a silly movie about monkey astronauts. Vanguard released a direct-to-video sequel to Space Chimps and a movie called Get Squirrely that I can’t tell if it was released at all. They do have a movie in the works titled Charming, and looks to be in the same vein as Happily N’Ever After, so good luck with that.

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