The most successful animated film of all time, Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3, will not be recognized this year by one of the most highly prized awards in the animation industry — at least if Disney can help it.
The Walt Disney Company is withdrawing sponsorship and consideration from the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood and its 38th annual Annie Awards which is scheduled to take place on February 5, 2011 at UCLA Royce Hall in Los Angeles, CA. This represents the first time in the award’s near-forty year history that Disney will not be sponsoring the event in some capacity.
At the heart of the estrangement is how ASIFA handles its membership and voting process. According to Variety, Walt Disney Animation and Disney/Pixar President Dr. Ed Catmull is unhappy with the lack of vetting process in that it accepts nearly anyone as a member and allows them to vote. Further to that, it’s claimed that DreamWorks Animation supplies each of its employees with a membership to the organization and unfairly weighs the votes in DWA’s favor.
While Disney/Pixar’s UP claimed the top spot last year, DreamWorks Animation didn’t have an entry and instead dominated the field of animation in television, but this year they will have How to Train Your Dragon up against Disney’s Toy Story 3 and Tangled and it appears that Catmull may prefer to see Toy Story 3 as a never-ran rather than chance it becoming an also-ran. Two years ago, Kung Fu Panda dominated the awards, trumping both Bolt and — quite more shockingly — Wall-E, which went on to spite the Annies and win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature anyway.
With other key awards such as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences now paying more attention to animated films than ever before, the importance of the Annie may be dwindling, particularly if the notion that its awards can essentially be bought proves to be true.