In the competitive market for voice-over actors, there's good news: With more animated features being made than ever before, the market is booming.
Now here's the bad news: It's getting increasingly tough for regular actors to land plum roles on Hollywood's animated projects. In other sectors, voice work can pay well, but work is less than steady.
Industry players say the trend has been clear for the past decade, as animated movies turn away from no-name actors in favor of marquee name celebrities. Those fortunate enough to snag a role may find themselves sharing the plight of Spencer Lacey Ganus, a 15-year old who was tapped to provide the voice of a young Elsa in Disney's 2013 mega-hit "Frozen"—yet took home less than $1,000 for her trouble. The movie itself went on to gross more than $1 billion worldwide.
Ganus' case highlights what insiders say is a growing trend in animation: The odds of a non-celebrity landing a leading role in a major animated film are slim to none.
Sandie Schnarr, co-owner and head of the animation and interactive division at AVO Talent Agency said that will most likely remain that way indefinitely.
"Celebrities are willing to do publicity for animated film the way they will do publicity for a live action film," said Schnarr "[The studios] want to make money, and when you have celebrity actors that will push your film for you, they will use you."
This of course makes things difficult, if not impossible, for non-celebrity actors hoping to land their big break in animated films, which are becoming more lucrative by the year.
The top five animated movies of all time—which include names like Toy Story 3, The Lion King and Despicable Me—have grossed more than $5 billion combined. Those box office champs have a major element in common: They featured mostly well-known actors in the leading roles.
Schnarr noted voice actors can land incidental roles in animated films, sometimes playing two or more different characters. However, virtually all of the main roles go to celebrities and, given the big budget nature of computer graphic imaged movies, is unlikely to change.