Movies That Combine Live Actors and Animation

Live action is the term that describes living, breathing actors working on a film. Animation is the art of creating drawn or computer-animated characters for the screen. In some films, the two techniques are combined as live actors interact onscreen with animated characters or items. Combining live actors and animation started in the 1900s with “Enchanted Drawing”. This simple short was directed by J. Stuart Blackton and depicted a man drawing on paper until the objects he drew came to life. The entire movie lasted only two minutes. By the 2010s, the art of combining live action with animation was commonplace. The following six movies combined live actors with animated items or characters, and they received good box office results or reviews.


“Ted” was a 2012 comedy starring Seth MacFarlane as the voice of a stuffed bear named Ted and Mark Walberg as a man named John Bennett. John has to try to deal with Ted, his lifelong childhood friend, while juggling a grownup life and a girlfriend. Directed by Seth MacFarlane, an animator best known for his work on “Family Guy” and “American Dad,” the film went on to earn $54 million in the opening weekend, with a total revenue of $503 million worldwide. In 2013, “Ted” was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song.

“Who Framed Roger Rabbit”

“Who Framed Roger Rabbit” was a 1988 comedy featuring a lovable animated bunny named Roger Rabbit alongside Eddie Valiant, his live-action companion played by Bob Hoskins. Roger Rabbit is framed for murder in Toontown, with only a reluctant Eddie to help him get out of it. Directed by Robert Zemeckis of “Back to the Future” fame, the film had a total revenue of $349 million worldwide. In 1989, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” won three Oscars for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Effects, and Best Visual Effects.


“Beetlejuice” was a 1988 comedy featuring wacky animated undead creatures, Winona Ryder as Lydia Deetz, and Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice. In this film, ghosts try to drive away the new owners of their house, resulting in a laugh-out-loud good time. Directed by Tim Burton, who went on to direct “Corpse Bride” and “Nightmare Before Christmas,” the film earned $8 million on opening weekend, with total revenue ticket sales totaling $78 million worldwide. In 1989, “Beetlejuice” won an Oscar for Best Makeup.


“Jumanji” was a 1995 adventure movie starring Robin Williams as Alan Parrish. Williams acts alongside several animated animals in the movie as a board game comes alive, bringing about some interesting results. Directed by Joe Johnston, the film had total worldwide ticket sales of $262 million. In 1996, “Jumanji” won a Saturn Award for Best Special Effects and Best Supporting Actress.

“Stuart Little”

“Stuart Little” was a 1999 adventure and comedy movie starring Hugh Laurie as Frederick Little. In this film, Laurie acts alongside a trusty animated mouse as his sidekick. Based on the children’s book by E. B. White, this timeless favorite follows the life of a family and the adventures of their mouse. Directed by Rob Minkoff, the film earned $15 million on its opening weekend and closed with worldwide ticket sales of $140 million. In 2000, “Stuart Little” was nominated for an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.


“Avatar” was a worldwide phenomenon when it was released in 2009. This film takes place on the distant world of Pandora, where it is up to one human to save an entire race of people from danger. Starring Sam Worthington and animated creatures from this other world, the movie includes masterful voice-overs by stars such as Zoe Saldana. Directed by James Cameron of “Titanic” fame, the film earned $77 million in its opening weekend and ended its run with worldwide ticket sales of $2.7 billion. In 2009, “Avatar” won Oscars for Best Achievement in Art Direction, Best Achievement in Visual Effects, and Best Achievement in Cinematography. It went on to have over 70 more award nominations.

As you can see from the massive success of films such as “Avatar” and “Ted,” the combination of live action and animation is still a hot commodity in Hollywood today. The influx of computers into our daily lives has expanded the possibilities of making films with visual effects. With CGI and other special effects getting better and better, the sky is the limit to what we’ll see on the big screens next.

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