Animated Battle of the Insects takes to the Internet

For decades, Disney has dominated the animated feature-film business. Recently, Dreamworks SKG, which scored a hit with this summer's Saving Private Ryan, jumped into the fray with the film Antz, about the life of an idealistic ant who feels trapped amoung his colony's soldiers and workers. Considered better than any other animated feature released so far this year, Antz needed an early start out of the gate, as Disney had planned a big splash for their own insect story.

Directed by Pixar Animation Studios filmmaker John Lasseter, who has garnered awards for Toy Story, and co-directed by Andrew Stanton, A Bug's Life is expected to arrive in movie theaters on November 25th. Since Dreamworks managed to get their film into theaters before Disney's, A Bug's Life is in the unfortunate position of having to be measured against the high watermark set by Antz thus far. Even if A Bug's Life is a great film, if it doesn't beat Antz at the box office, Disney will have failed in maintaining its position as undisputed leader in the animated business. Only a string of consistent hits can establish a legend, but the relatively new field of computer-animated film is still wide open, though Toy Story established Disney quickly.

For a low-tech peek at A Bug's Life, check the online film clip depicting one insect's transition from country life to city strife. Advance clips from new audio CDs have become common practice on the internet in recent months, and video streaming is old hat by now, but sneak previews of major theater-bound films are just beginning. The challenge for studios will be to use the bandwidth in such a way as to entice us to buy a ticket or rent a video in spite of the compressed sound and lo-rez picture. The Netstream site features several such clips, along with video promos for everything from new Kentucky Fried Chicken ads to Stephen King on the set of The Green Mile, the latest screen adaptation of one of his books, currently in production and starring Tom Hanks.