The current recession, expected to last well into 2010, may be the least of Hollywood’s problems; that pesky actors’ strike, now more promise than threat, may prove considerably more staggering than folks sitting on their couches and their wallets. And DreamWorks Animation is hardly the best benchmark: It released only two films in 2008—Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar 2—both of which were among the top-grossing films of the year. The fact that they were also smart, entertaining films aimed equally at children and adults didn’t hurt. Beats the hell out of a second mortgage spent on a day at the amusement park.
Katzenberg probably has just the ticket to survive an economic meltdown: light, all-age escapist fare presented in crystalline 3D—“the premium experience,” he likes to call it. One need only look at the top-grossing films of the early 1930s: monster movies, Busby Berkeley musicals, and comedies starring the likes of the Marx Brothers and Mae West. Yesterday looks a whole lot like today, as Batman, Indiana Jones, Jack Black as a punching panda, a robot named WALL-E, and Meryl Streep singing Abba clog the box-office top 10 of 2008. Not a single somber, serious soul in sight. So, yeah, Seth Rogen as a 3D ball of goo? The very definition of Depression-proof, just maybe.