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Why can't we just get a theatrical animated movie with professional voice actors in the main roles rather than celebrities?


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Now, keep in mind, I don't think celebs voicing characters in animated movies is a bad thing, as there have been plenty of good examples. But it shuts out the pro VAs, who are usually stuck with side characters in these types of movies.
Yes, I know that casting celebs is part of the marketing process, but kids and even adults aren't really going to care about who these people are.
Pro VAs deserve more respect. So why do studios refuse to cast them in lead roles?

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Because the one time we did it was Ratchet and Clank. And one bomb like that's enough to ruin it for everyone.

EDIT: To be clear the game VA's they did use for that movie gave it everything they had but it's still the Ratchet and Clank movie unfortunately. Good acting can only take bad writing so far.

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It's because animated movies usually are more expensive to make and they need to make that money back in the box office. The problem with this is that most adults, for some reason, think animation is for children so they simply write them off as not worth watching. Hollywood's way around this is using big names that adults might recognize from live action films to entice them to cave and watch (or at least sit through and tolerate it while their child is the one enjoying it) animated movies, whether they're for children or not.

 

If they could use regular voice actors over celebrities without a financial impact, they would. Simply because it's cheaper... but most studios get cold feet and need to rely on celebrities parents will recognize.

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In the simplest terms possible: they do it to make money. Big names give in big numbers for the audience, and a bigger audience means more money. 

In a sort of ironic echo of the situation, this is pretty much what the likes of Robin Williams had worked hard to prevent way back when he was the Genie in Disney's animated take of Aladdin. He never wanted to take away any of the fame from the professional VAs working on the film at the time, so he made sure to tell Disney not to go around making his character out as a big advertisement for the film. Lo and behold, it went about as well as one would expect, like speaking to a brick wall. And Disney, being Disney, would continue to do this for years to come, even repeating the same mistakes for the live action adaptation of the same movie. This would eventually become the norm in the industry for other animated movies to place big celebrities as main roles.

Long story short, fuck Disney. They're probably not the originator of the problem, but they've done nothing to help remedy it since.

 

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I'd hazard a guess that, besides the marketing aspect of casting a familiar face, it's also unfamiliarity for the movie business industry about who are good VA's.

The scene's way more established in Japan with the entire Anime genre, but when looking at animated movies we only have a few companies that produced animated movies (some examples, Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks, and Warner brothers). Those companies know what a good VA needs to bring to the table.
I can imagine a live-action movie studio not having quite the same experience in scouting out good VA work so they go for the safe albeit probably more expensive option of hiring a celeb.

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People are going to notice big name celebrities over voice actors, which draws more attention to your product, especially from a wider number of entertainment news sites.  Which means more coverage for the film overall. If the Mario movie used the the voice actors from the games,  people would not have paid nearly as much attention.

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The Box office angle is obviously the biggest factor, but I'd be doing a disservice if I didn't point out that the "big name celebrities" these movies are hiring are still more-often-than-not actors themselves. Its not like they are just picking random famous guy #5.

The same qualities that make a good VA often are one in the same with actors in general. There is a lot of overlap in the skill sets. If your going to hire mainstream directors to handle these movies, the people they are going to be most comfortable working with, and the talent they trust in most will inevitably come from mainstream actors.  There is little need to dip into a foreign talent pool when there are known commodities staring you in the face.

 

If you've worked in the industry for 10, 20, 30 years and you have seen the acting chops of a -- lets say Idris Elba, up close and personal, your going to develop a trust and respect for what he can bring to any role. When the time comes to voice your fuzzy red echidna, the guy making decisions has X amount of years of scouting already invested in this guy. He's seen it first hand. Elba, right from the jump has a built in advantage over name-your-VA that only has done work in videogames. Movies are big investments. Your gonna go with the guy you trust. The guy you've seen in 100 roles and know he is adaptable. The guy who knows how your industry works and won't get wide-eyed. Going with a lesser known, lesser exposed VA is a risk.

 

 

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It's because of Disney, basically.

Robin Williams was such a huge hit in Aladdin that other animation studios started emulating it and now it's just the standard whereas before you would see more variety, like stage actors, for instance.

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As many people pointed out, it's because of money and status.  Getting a big-name celebrity to an animated movie instead of a professional VA would bring in more people to watch the film and since most of the general audience don't know most of the professional VAs, to the movie studios, that could hurt the chances of the movie performing well if the general audience can't recognize an actor or actress that they know about.  Like for example, in regard to both Tails and Knuckles in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Tails is being voiced by Colleen O'Shaughnessey, while Knuckles is being voiced by Idris Elba.  Would it have been better if Knuckles' voice actor from the games had voiced Knuckles instead of Idris Elba?  Well, the Sonic fans who actually played the games and heard Knuckles' voice would have been satisfied with having Knuckles' original voice actor voice Knuckles in the movie.  But on the other end of the spectrum, you have the non-Sonic fans or the general movie going audience who have never picked up a Sonic game and therefore, had never heard of Knuckles' original voice actor or even heard of Colleen O'Shaughnessey and one of the main things about Sonic the Hedgehog 2 that grabbed their attention was Idris Elba voicing Knuckles the Echidna.

So it basically all comes down to whether or not the general audience knows these VAs and to the movie studios, if the general audience doesn't recognize the voices of the characters, then the movies are not going to pull in a bigger audience and therefore, that's why movie studios prefer to get celebrities to voice the characters in order to gain a bigger audience.

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Others have said this before me, but money and status is the reason. That said, I would like to say something about popularity if that is okay.

 

Hot take, and I think this may be controversial, but I am not fond of the idea of popularity itself, especially how it is handled. Like in political elections and making Hollywood movies. Technically, they go with the popular candidates, when there are other professional, more experienced, smarter and overall better people to go with than just the 2D cover of a person I call popularity; 2D meaning in this case not enough depth aside from how famous someone is. I think going with the popular candidates for something is lazy, and I also tend to think popularity is based off ignorance, mainly from the ones who view the famous. I mean, the famous do something that makes them well known, but what much more is there to them that people know? To me, popularity is somewhat like judging the book of their cover and not looking at the whole background. A person being popular does not guarantee they are the right choice for something. I just think too many people depend on popularity without going the extra mile of knowing them well enough to decide if they are fitting for something or not.

In regards to the movie animated thing we are talking about, not that the popular people are not talented, but I think that there are better choices the movie makers could go with instead of the famous. They don't need the famous people to make a good movie, and while not all of them are like this, some of the famous people are not really too great to begin with. Not all of them, but I do think it is lazy to try to make money with movies using famous people rather than professional voice actors, like how they did with the Mario movie coming out next year, the animated one. I mean, from what I learned in high school, most actors are not even rich, or at least live the Hollywood life the Hollywood actors do.

It is just so sad to see the more talented get put aside in favor of the more famous, if you ask me.

 

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