In October 1998, DreamWorks’ Antz was released promising film fans
a fun animated comedy about a rebellious ant who faces up to his oppressors,
falls in love with a princess, leaves the confines of his colony to do some
intrepid, plot-propelling sh*t and returns a hero.
If that didn’t take cinemagoers’ fancy, they could always wait a
few weeks and see Pixar’s A Bug’s Life instead which was about a rebellious ant
who faces up to his oppressors, falls in love with … well, you can probably
guess the rest.
But creative coincidence this was not, and there was a bit of drama
going on behind the scenes. You see, DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg
used to work for Disney and left on rather acrimonious terms but kept in touch
with former co-worker and A Bug’s Life director John Lasseter who perhaps
unwisely discussed future Disney Pixar projects with him.
You can imagine Lasseter and the rest of Pixar’s reaction when
DreamWorks announced their upcoming and suspiciously similar movie Antz and
rushed it into an early release.
Even though Antz might be the result of industrial espionage, it’s
the slightly better film of the two. A Bug’s Life might have better animation
going for it, but it’s typically cutesy and kid-friendly in a Disney kind of
way whereas Antz has the advantage of a more adult, satirical tone.