In the 1990s, almost every animated movie became a hit and studios jumped in to battle Disney. In 1994 Disney released The Lion King, which became the highest grossing animated film of all time. The following year, Disney and Pixar released Toy Story, a technological masterpiece produced completely with computer animation. A string of computer-animated films followed. The Pixar film, Monsters, Inc. (2001), gave Disney another huge hit, the second all-time money earner for animated films.
The revival of animated films made it fashionable for actors to voice the characters. Major stars such as Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and Robin Williams have lent their voices to animated films. The growth of VHS and DVD sales has doubled the revenue of some animated films.
Television benefited from the rebirth of films, particularly in the adult market. In 1990, Fox introduced Matt Groeningi’s The Simpsons in primetime, turning its characters into popular culture icons. MTV countered with Beavis and Butt-Head in 1993. The growth of cable television pushed cartoons in new directions. In 1990, Disney introduced a block of afternoon programming for the Fox Kids Network. The cable mogul Ted Turner created the twenty-four-hour Cartoon Network in the early 1990s. The Children’s Television Act of 1990 required educational programs for children. Essentially, the act ended the traditional Saturday morning cartoon programming.
Cartoons continue to play an important role in popular culture and have a magnificent future. Using computer animation, Hollywood churns out hit film after hit film, while television audiences continue to grow. Video sales and rentals get subsequent generations of youngsters interested in traditional cartoons and characters while also promoting new films. As long as audiences want new animated films, television shows, and cartoons, the industry will respond.