Disney and Pixar’s approach to sequels for their classic animated films is somewhat baffling. While we’d probably watch “Toy Story” sequels until the Mayan apocalypse destroys us all, we’re not sure who exactly was hankering for the international exploits of the “Cars” characters, or how many of us have stayed up late at night hypothesizing about what the monstrous Mike and Sully were like in college (the forthcoming “Monsters University”).
One Pixar film that everyone has been dying for, of course, is a follow-up to writer/director Brad Bird’s 2004 masterpiece “The Incredibles,” which still stands as the highest point in the studio’s nearly peerless track record. The story has continued in the form of video game and comic book spin-offs (there was even a proposed Incredibles Training Facility ride planned for the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland before the proprietary technology for the attraction was snapped up by Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter), but what everyone really wants is another feature-length film. Thankfully, Brad Bird, while making the rounds for December’s “Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol” (his first live-action feature), confirmed to Movies.com that the sequel is in development. It might not be as far along as you'd like, though.
“To say that I’ve had trouble [coming up with a story] is to say that [a sequel] has been my pursuit,” Bird told Movies.com. “I haven’t really been pursuing that.”
What he has been pursuing, we all know, is “Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol,” the fourth entry in the franchise and, despite its goofy ad campaign, one of the few holiday movies we’re genuinely jazzed to see. He says the reason development has been so slow is because the Pixar Brain Trust (the loose collective of Pixar creative bigwigs who advise on every movie, and sometimes other Disney projects like “The Muppets” and “TRON: Legacy”) was keen on having the writer-director return, not to farm it out to another in-house filmmaker.
“I think the reason it hasn’t [happened] yet is because the studio would like me to do it,” Bird explained. “And I’ve told them that I’m not really friendly to have someone else take away my child.” Bird has been developing the story but hasn’t gone beyond that point, saying that he has “several good ideas that could be incorporated” but he doesn’t “have a whole movie yet.” His paradigm for the next “The Incredibles” is another Pixar favorite. “I want to do it because I have something that will be as good or better than the original. ‘Toy Story 2’ was, to me, a perfect sequel, because it absolutely respected the first film but found new places to go without selling out its characters. So if I could come up with an idea that is to ‘Incredibles’ that ‘Toy Story 2’ is to ‘Toy Story,’ I would do it in a second.”
Still, some questions arise: one, will he really be willing to return to Pixar after “Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol” makes a humungous amount of cash and certainly establishes Bird as a big-time Hollywood action director? (His work in animation has already showed us that he can stage a small blue rat running around a Parisian kitchen and make it more thrilling than all three "Underworld" movies put together). He told Movies.com that he “would love to do another film with Pixar,” including, clearly, “The Incredibles” follow-up, but whether or not this actually happens remains to be seen.
A bigger question hovers around “1906,” Bird’s long-planned adaptation of James Dalessandro’s fictional account of the great San Francisco earthquake. Back in 2008 it looked like “1906,” not 'Mission: Impossible,' would be Brad Bird’s debut live-action feature, and a unique production arrangement was made between Pixar, Disney and Warner Bros. to cover financing (it was reportedly budgeted around $200 million). All of the development was being done at Pixar (just like next year’s “John Carter,” which now holds the honor of sort of being Pixar’s first live action movie), including whole citywide models of 1906 San Francisco, with principle production to be done on the Warner Bros. lot. He told Latino Review in 2009 that, “It’s (been) a really hard script to write … Mostly because there are so many interesting things going on in that place and that particular period of time that -- anytime you're going towards something -- you're going away from 5 other cool things.” But, at the same time, he said, “We’re looking at places to shoot it…We’ll see if they have the courage to make (it).”
Clearly those people lacked courage, and the same executives that made Bird scale back the scope of the movie (which is why it was announced in 2008 and still hadn’t been filmed in 2009), put the movie on ice altogether. This is partially the reason Bird so quickly jumped ship to another studio to make the fourth 'Mission: Impossible.' He wanted to do a live action movie somewhere, and if Disney wasn’t going to let him do it, he’d make it happen on his own.
With “Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol” poised to be one of the fourth quarter’s biggest hits, it could mean that he finally gets to follow through on his longtime passion project, which would mean a further wait for “The Incredibles” follow-up.