Regarded as one of the most memorable and critically acclaimed films of all time, Who Framed Roger Rabbit was the standout animated film of the 1980s thanks to its seamless blend of live-action and animated characters.
This pioneering approach was complicated and, naturally, costly. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was the most expensive film ever made until then with a production budget of $70 million. Thankfully this deft blend of film noir and cartoon mayhem managed to reap a total box office draw of almost $330 million worldwide and secure a place in ever animation fans heart.
What would have happened if the film had, through some deus ex machina, managed to flop spectacularly?
Would the spike in popularity that many classic cartoons received as a result of exposure in the film have never occurred?
Would the concept of blending live-action with animation have been as taboo in Hollywood as CGI was for a decade after TRON's mediocre performance?
Would Disney's much lauded renaissance starting with the Little Mermaid the following year have been met with a more muted response from both the studio and public?
Would Disney itself have seen out the end of the century after being hobbled by losses from the film?
Lastly, would CGI have come to prominence even sooner if traditional animation became tainted by a Roger Rabbit-shaped failure?
Of course the film has stood on its own merits since its release and has overshadowed Robert Zemeckis' last animated feature, Mars Needs Moms. That film, it could be argued, has hobbled motion-capture to such an extent that only an effort like James Cameron's Avatar could even hope to rectify.
Aren't we thankful that it wasn't preceded by Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Charles Kenny writes prolifically on his own blog, The Animation Anomaly.