One commenter expressed:
I haven't seen a movie from a big american studio in the last couple of years that has had the kind of freaky style you want. If they had taken it that far, no one would go see the movie. Dont't you think so?That's certainly a valid point. Big American animation studios tend to stick with the blue sky, green grass, sunshine world of utopian southern California suburb (before the smog). And a lot of those films have been a success commercially. The easy thing is to equate the two as causation. Causation being: American big studio animated films are successful, they also use traditional approaches to design and color scheming. Thus use traditional design and color scheming and your film will be successful. People fall for that confusion all the time (especially executives). We must understand that correlation is not the same as causation.
Another commenter offered:
I personally think the whole point of it was to keep it "down to earth" and close to what an audience can instantly recognize.Again, a very solid point. I can see the rationale behind that approach. But then- do audiences really need to be addressed as pre-schoolers? It's too bad that filmmakers believe that things must be so easily digested, lest somebody get a tummy-ache in their eyes. The Nightmare Before Christmas looks nothing like 'real life'. Yet it was a big hit during its time and has gone on to become a classic- an evergreen property that still makes Disney money. I contend that the production design did not hinder the film's commercial & creative success- it defined it. Nightmare's design did not shackle it to failure- it freed it to become more than another come-and-go run of the mill offering.
Laika's Coraline has a similar vibe to it- it's not all green grass and blue skies.
Everyone's Hero is a good example of that (and visually that's an example of the 'Pixar-style' that was pretty well executed, too). But where exists greater risk, greater reward is possible. Since the statement that "in Hollywood no one knows anything" really is true, why not embrace that uncertainty and use it to give license to a whole realm of possibilities- and even impossibilities?
Reality has no power of constraint in animation. Of all the forms of cinema only animation is free to explore every crevice of our imagination. Why be so timid about that exploration? Step out a little, stretch those imagination wings. Why play it so safe? Audiences don't want safe- they want something bigger than that. I truly believe it.