In the realm of feature animation, the hand-drawn no longer rocks the cradle. Thanks to the consistent success of Pixar's (NASDAQ:PIXR) five computer-rendered theatrical releases, coupled with Disney's (NYSE:DIS) recent failure to produce popular hand-drawn films, it's easy to see why folks are favoring bytes and pixels over ink and paint.

Since Disney's 1999 release of Tarzan, only Lilo & Stitch has broken the $100 million mark at the domestic box office. On the other hand, Pixar's five titles have averaged $239 million in stateside ticket sales.

This disparity was magnified over the weekend after Disney's Brother Bear went into hibernation in its second week. Yes, everyone figured it would be lapped by Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) Matrix Revolutions. It was. But the Disney release drew little more than half the audience of Elf -- its more direct rival in competing for families over the holidays.

Bad timing, Bear. Last week, Pixar's Finding Nemo set the new one-day record for home video and DVD sales when it moved 8 million copies. The good news for Disney is that it has been splitting the profits with Pixar on the company's computer-animated features, but that deal runs out in two years.

Are these the waning days of animation?

Of course not. For starters, it's not the medium. It's the message. Yes, Pixar is putting out some beautiful eye candy, but it would fall flat if not for the rich characterizations, cutting-edge humor and engaging storylines that Pixar has flawlessly weaved into the technology.

Disney's animated fare, meanwhile, has fallen into a formulaic rut. The money-grubbing mentality of stuffing mediocre sequels into home video distribution has cost Disney -- just as it did when it shoehorned Who Wants to Be a Millionaire into four prime-time slots a week. You can't bludgeon an audience -- no matter how young -- with carbon copy content and expect to maintain loyalty. Kids aren't that dumb.

So don't buy into the notion that traditional animation is looking for a handout. It's just waiting for a leg up.

Pixar is yet another successful stock idea written up in Motley Fool Stock Advisor. Rich characterizations? Cutting-edge humor? Engaging storylines? You've come to the right place.