Believe it or not, there was a time when Pixar was all alone atop the current animation craze. Once Toy Story hit, it seemed Disney's hand-drawn stuff was pushed aside and replaced by a new look and a new generation of kids who wanted a bit more out of their big-screen cartoons. Once Shrek came along and proved that other studios (in this case, Dreamworks) could share a piece of the pie, that opened up the door for every other major studio to start up their own animation wing. Now, we're bombarded with a host of animated films each year, and it almost feels as if Pixar's reign has come to an end.
This summer, there's a pretty good chance Shrek the Third will take in more money at the box office than Ratatouille. While it won't be a major surprise (Shrek already has a massive built-in audience, while Pixar's product is brand new), it's still a clear indication that the playing field has leveled off a bit. Nothing against Pixar (I've always loved their films), but I miss those days when the new Pixar flick was all anyone could talk about. Now, with so many animated films to choose from, it's becoming harder to pick their product out of a photo line-up. Granted, the Pixar buzz still remains, albeit a little more watered-down than it used to be -- and their films will continue to finish right up towards the top when it comes time to tally up the box office figures for the year. But for how long?
So, I ask you: Has Pixar's reign come to an end? Is there anything they can do to keep things fresh and somehow separate themselves from the rest of the pack?