This summer, three of those studios have players in the game. Here's a quick glimpse at each.
Universal Pictures may have their hands on a franchise that could generate one of this summer's big box-office hits. The first sequel to its original hit, Despicable Me 2 is a return of one of the most successful challenges ever to Pixar's rule as digital animation kings.
Despicable Me, released in July of 2010 earned more than a half billion worldwide and added another 150 million in home video sales. Add in a major theme park attraction for Universal Studios Orlando and a serious flood of merchandise revenue, and the perspective on building animation franchises becomes crystal clear.
Universal also has the Disney-like clout needed to bring an original Cast back into the studio. The roster of returning voice talent is led by Steve Carell and includes Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Elsie Fisher and Dana Gaier. Throw in Al Pacino and Steve Coogan and you have a power cast even where you likely don't need one.
With one more power play in its pocket, Despicable Me 2 has a July Fourth Weekend holiday release date. If Disney's Monsters University underperforms, "Universal" will once again be a word heard only in quiet whispers through the halls of the Mouse House. Here's a peak...
Epic's voice cast is predictably filled with celebrities who may or may not lend anything to the production besides needlessly costly talent contracts and sequel agreements. The Oscar-cred heavy voice cast here is headed by Jason Sudeikis, Amanda Seyfried, Beyoncé Knowles, Colin Farrell, Aziz Ansari, Christoph Waltz and Steven Tyler. Epic has a scheduled May 24th release.
In the mix of onscreen and voice talent are returning cast members Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris and Sofia Vergara with the notable additions of Anton Yelchin, Christina Ricci, Alan Cummings, Brendan Gleeson, Katy Perry, Fred Armisen, George Lopez and the venerable Jonathan Winters (as Papa Smurf).
You'll have to hold your breath until you can turn blue, The Smurfs 2 doesn't open in the U.S. until July 31st.
It's clearly another animated summer with several of the seven movies highlighted in these last three columns being sure bets for the summer's top ten box-office list. My bet is at least one of them will land in the top 3.
Check back with us later today for a new look at Blockbuster Season weekends with a new feature called Go Big, Go Small. Thanks for reading Moviedozer.com.
Thanks to Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox for trailers and poster art.