FEATURE-Animated robots, trolls and the dead dig up new film fans

Wed Oct 22, 2014 8:00am EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES Oct 22 (Reuters) - An oversized personal health-care robot assistant might seem out of place next to the princesses and furry animals that have won over legions of fans, young and old, in animated films.

But for every young girl belting out "Frozen" princess anthem "Let It Go," Walt Disney Co is betting there's a nerd who will root for the geeks and robot fighting evil in "Big Hero 6."

Disney's big film this year leads a field of offbeat animated movies featuring little green monsters and a Day of the Dead love triangle that could lure new audiences to animation, an increasingly vibrant segment of the movie industry, both creatively and economically.

The Marvel comics-inspired "Big Hero 6," in theaters on Nov. 7, is centered in a futuristic world of robotics and takes place in Sanfransokyo, which imagines San Francisco fused with Tokyo.

"It coincides with nerd culture being popular in pop culture," said Don Hall, who co-directed the film with Chris Williams, both self-described nerds.

Princess tales and the animal world dominated animation until the late 1990s with movies such as "The Lion King" and "The Little Mermaid."

Since then, unconventional heroes and edgier humor have emerged to push animated fare beyond kids-only consumption.

There's the swamp-dwelling ogre "Shrek" from DreamWorks Animation SKG's and the child-frightening goofball monsters from Pixar Animation's "Monster's Inc." and Steve Carell's charmingly awful villain in "Despicable Me" - all which have gone on to sequels.   Continued...