Just ran across this (sorry if this post is a little political). Rock Art Brewery just beat a goliath. So as I read the story, a little micro brewery in Vermont made a beer called Vermonster Hansen Beverage which makes Monster energy drink (and billions of dollars) felt that Rock Art's beer was infringing on their trademark and was going to take them to court. So obviously if Rock Art doesn't just kow-tow Hansen's gonna win the case 'cuz they have the deep pockets to just drag it on until Rock Art goes broke with lawyer fees. But Matt Nadeau, Rock Art's owner, pulled a little jiu jitsu. He sent out emails to fans of the brewery, who rallied the troops and made facebook pages, tweets (#boycottmonster) and got some solidarityfrom other businesses pulling Hansen products off their shelves. So the CEO of Hansen calls up Nadeau and asks how to stop it, and Nadeau gets in paper that Rock Art's allowed to keep using Vermonster.
The point of this story for me is that if you let others define the rules and the arena you're gonna lose, if you want to debate about elephants and I keep saying "don't think of an elephant" I can never win.
Or a direct animation example: IceAge 3 made $888million, and cost $90 mil to make.(986% times it's cost) Up made $683 and cost $175.(390%) Monsters vs Aliens made $381 and cost $175.(210%) And Hoodwinked made $51 and cost $15 to make.(340%) Showing you don't have to have top of the line production to make a profit (but maybe you need to be sweatshoppy)
But all of these examples are missing the point, they show you can be small and still make it big, but this is still playing by "their" rules in "their" arena. I just noticed that Conceptart.org is following the AnimationMentor path of creating an online school that will teach people how to do their craft because all the graduates they see coming out of regular schools do not have near the skills they need to enter their industry but do have a huge dept. So these online schools are redefining the arena, not letting old rules dictate how to play (I think AM is accredited now, but I don't think they were when they first started out, the point being that giving people hireable skills is more useful then giving them a piece of paper that the old rules value.)
Sorry I can't tell you what the a new arena could be. I'm still trying to figure it out by defining the goals and trying to seperate them from the existing conditions.