Follow The Leader: Film

Film - Live Action

Film - Animation

  • The Disney studios in general have always been the most influential animation studio around. Consider the following:
    • Silly Symphonies was one of the most influential cartoon series of The Golden Age of Animation—and as a result, it was also one of the most copied. Virtually every studio from the time (except Terrytoons) had its own knockoff of Walt Disney's lush cartoons: Max Fleischer's Color Classics, Walter Lantz's CartuneClassics, Columbia Cartoons' Color Rhapsodies, Ub Iwerks' Comi Color Cartoons, Harman and Ising's Happy Harmonies, etc., etc. Earlier on, Warner Bros' Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies began this way, as their titles suggest, but changed dramatically later, as we all know.
    • The various Mickey Mouse clones of the era, like Foxy from Lady, Play Your Mandolin!, Bosko, The Talk-Ink Kid and others. Though Mickey himself was based partly on Felix the Cat and partly on Disney's earlier character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
      • The trend continued. The 1940s character Mighty Mouse was obviously modeled after Mickey, as have been countless "heroic mice" in cartoons ever since.
    • The Smurfette Principle was actually introduced when Mickey Mouse got a female companion that was basically a copy of himself in female drag. This has been imitated ever since with Daisy Duck, Winnie Woodpecker, Babs Bunny...
    • Disney was also the first animation studio to include famous tunes from the world of classical music on the soundtrack, such as Rossini's William Tell Overture whenever characters are running or riding a horse. This has been copied by many other animation studios, most notably Looney Tunes.
    • Donald Duck was obviously the inspiration for a lot of aggressive cartoon characters, most notably Daffy Duck.
    • Disney practically invented and popularized the full length animated feature film with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Every animated feature film released ever since took elements from this film: comedic sidekicks, tragicomedic elements, musical numbers, stories inspired by classic literature or fairy tales...even the evil witch was the blueprint for every Disney villain to come!
    • Disney's Fantasia was the inspiration for many animated films without any dialogue and just scenes set to classical music, such as Allegro Non Troppo, What's Opera, Doc?, A Corny Concerto...
    • The pink elephants sequence in Dumbo has inspired a lot of Deranged Animation and/or Big Lipped Alligator Moment scenes in animated feature films ever since.
    • The idea of a theme park around famous cartoon characters originated with Disneyland and was also widely copied.
    • Back in the late-1980s/early-1990s Disney animation renaissance, quite a few 2D animated features were cranked out by other companies (or finally released). Most were fantasy musicals written around a young attractive female who just wants "more" from life (The Swan Princess, Thumbelina), even if they weren't initially written as such (Quest for Camelot, The Thief and the Cobbler).
      • As The Nostalgia Chick and many others have pointed out, after Don Bluth had an awesome decade of the 1980s while Disney slumped, it turned the other way in the 1990s. Bluth gave in and tried to copy them. Anastasia is probably the most blatant try, even though it's a good movie in its own right.
    • Thanks to the success of Toy Story, Finding Nemo and other works of Pixar, the movie biz is flooded with CGI children's movies. Nowadays, any animated movie must be computer-generated if is to have any chance against the viewing public, or face utter commercial failure. Hence the saying thattraditional 2D animation is dead, or at least not meant to be taken seriously.
      • That's arguably, in large part, due to certain box office bombs of the past that have been animated in 2D such as Rock-A-Doodle and Happily Ever After. While most of these bombs were made by companies outside of Disney, Disney itself was not spared. After The Emperor's New Groove, Disney movies would only experience huge success if they were CGI, which, conversely, helped fuel Pixar. One medium's failure is another medium's opportunity.
      • Disney gave 2D another chance with The Princess and the Frog. While successful, it was not as big a hit as they had hoped, thus resulting in them changing the animation on Tangled from 2D to 3D.
      • Disney do still try to make one 2D film for every 3D one they produce. After Tangled came Winnie-the-Pooh (though that was buried running alongside the juggernaut that is Harry Potter).
    • Ironically, Pixar is now developing traditional 2D shorts, such as The Paperman. The pendulum might yet swing back...
      • The success of Enchanted seems to have helped people realize that a genre/medium is not old technology, it isn't replaced just because something new and flashy comes along. Traditional animation will be coming back when people get tired of CG Animation.
    • One exception is the popularity of The Simpsons Movie. But to be fair, The Simpsons has been around since 1989, and was obviously bound to do well, thanks to its already long-established worldwide appeal.
    • The success of The Simpsons and its' TV copycats prompted DreamWorks to create its trademark of animated movies with lots of Toilet Humour, pop-culture references, Celebrity Voice Actors, and Fractured Fairy Tales, beginning with the Shrek series. Most family films have followed this pattern, with varying degrees of success.
    • Disney started the Celebrity Voice Actor trend as early as the late 1930s, when Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards appeared in some films (most notably Pinocchio) and in 1950 they cast Ed Wynn as the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. It only really caught on when Robin Williams did the voice of the Genie in Aladdin, however.
    • For a while DreamWorks Animation was single-handedly playing Follow the Leader against Pixar, as part of Jeffrey Katzenberg's Take That against Disney after the success of Toy Story. A Bug's Life begat Antz (which was rushed for release before Bugs), Monsters, Inc. begat Shrek, Finding Nemo begat Shark Tale, Ratatouille begat Flushed Away (produced by then-partner Aardman) and The Incredibles begat Megamind. The practice stopped when Pixar finally stopped publicly discussing their projects in advance, to John Lasseter's dismay (he felt that DreamWorks' copycat tactics betrayed the studio-agnostic camaraderie that animators previously nurtured).
      • To be fair, most of these films have very different plots and settings.
      • Dreamworks must be the only animated film studio capable of copying off of its own movies. The commercial success of Madagascar begat their other animal movie, Over the Hedge. With that success, Disney finally gave Dreamworks a taste of their own unoriginal medicine with The Wild... Except The Wild was released after, but was in production before Madagascar, so they still ripped Disney off.
  • This was the greatest weakness of the obscure Van Beuren cartoon studio; while their animation was as off the wall as you could get, their cartoons were very derivative of what other studios were doing, and they were clearly handicapped by their inability to create unique characters. Many of their early 30's cartoons take their surreal cues straight from their rival studio from literally across the street, Fleischer Studios; "The Farmerette" even has an obvious Betty Boop stand in, even voiced by one of her actresses, Bonnie Poe. One of their sound fables, "Panicky Pup", is an obvious knockoff of Fleischer's "Swing, You Sinners!". Their Tom and Jerry note  is a flaccid attempt at a Mutt And Jeff-esque duo, and their Milton Mouse and Cubby Bear, as well as their interpretation of Felix the Cat, are obvious Mickey Mouse knockoffs. Their Toddle Tale and some of their Rainbow Parade cartoons ride off the coat of Disney's Silly Symphonies series.
  • Betty Boop: Inspired the trend of Getting Crap Past the Radar jokes in a genre so much associated with children.
  • Tex Avery: His style of comedic exaggerations, wild takes, off the wall absurdity, fourth wall breaking jokes and more adult comedy have been ripped off to the point of death by other cartoon shows. Even gags like the "painted tunnel" joke were stolen from him.
  • Ralph Bakshi kicked off the trend for animation more geared at adults with taboo subjects such as sex, drugs, violence and politics. This both lead to forgettable bawdy cartoon films with nothing more than dirty sex jokes (Down and Dirty Duck, King Dick, Tarzoon The Shame Of The Jungle) and more critically acclaimed series (The Simpsons, South Park) and films (Fantastic Planet, Waltz with Bashir, Persepolis).
  • After the success of The Incredibles, more and more CGI-animated movies started mirroring its method of animating human characters with caricature proportions so as to create smoother human animation and avoid freaking out the audience.

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