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Animation Do’s and Don’t’s

DO BET ON PIXAR. “Cars” didn’t deliver as big as some hoped; with an opening weekend of $60 million the film did significantly less business than “Finding Nemo” and “The Incredibles.” But the film was still the most successful animated picture of the year, thereby keeping the studio’s reputation mostly intact. (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
DON’T COUNT ON ANTS. America’s love affair with talking bugs — “A Bug’s Life,” “Antz” — has officially ended. So when “The Ant Bully” — a film about a young boy and ant terrorizor who gets shrunken down to insect size — hit theaters in July, the resulting box office numbers were minimized too. The opening weekend’ $8 million and the total gross — $28 million were ant-sized as well. (Warner Bros.)
DO UTILIZE PENGUINS. Penguins are so hot right now! Thanks to the anthropomorphizing effect of the live action “March of the Penguins” we are more ready than ever to accept that these little upright buggers can talk and/or sing and/or dance. Director George Miller took this idea to the bank when his film “Happy Feet” opened to a very respectable $41 million last month. (Warner Bros.)
DON’T GIVE MALE COWS UDDERS. Our film critic Carina Chocano was so distracted by the prominent wiggling udders on the male cows in “Barnyard:The Original Party Animals” (which she says look “like rubber toilet plungers with four wobbly cocktail weenies attached”) that she found it difficult to judge the movie on the normal elements-plot, humor, direction, etc. Audiences apparently agreed. The film’s opening weekend yielded an adequate, though hardly impressive $19 million. (Paramount)
DO MAKE A SEQUEL. “Shrek 2” is the highest grossing animated film of all time, and in fact three of the ten biggest animated money-makers are sequels. We were reminded of this truism when “Ice Age: The Meltdown” grossed $60 million it’s opening weekend and became one of the first big box office hits of the year. (Blue Sky Studios)
DO GO REAL D. We think 3D is the coolest thing in the world (along with glow-in-the-dark and octopi) so we’re willing to concede some biased-ness, but “Monster House,” a modest film with some biggish name talent (Jason Lee, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kevin James), was pretty freakin’ awesome. And with a modestly impressive $22 million open, we can almost feel comfortable saying audiences agree with us. (Columbia Pictures)
DON’T DO A REMAKE. American audiences may not be the brightest, but they can occasionally spot when they are being fed the same story at the movie theaters and they don’t like it. This year’s “The Wild” about an unlikely group of animals that escape from the zoo was a little too similar to 2005’s “Madagascar” about an unlikely group of animals that escape from the zoo. And so nobody saw “The Wild.” (Disney Enterprises)
DO MESS WITH TOM CRUISE. Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the masterminds behind Comedy Central’s “South Park” used this trick to great effect in March, when the network decided not to re-run an episode called “Trapped in the Closet’ that made fun of Cruise and Scientology. The result? Lots of publicity generated and one Emmy nomination received. (Comedy Central)
DO MAKE A LIVE ACTION VERSION OF YOUR OPENING SEQUENCE. Remember last spring when somebody sent you the Youtube clip of the Simpsons title sequence, except it was all live action and it blew your mind?!? That was awesome. (Fox)