Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Margot Robbie Says 'Suicide Squad' Is More 'The Dark Knight' Than 'Avengers'; David Ayer Says Joker Is "Majestic" Margot Robbie Says 'Suicide Squad' Is More 'The Dark Knight' Than 'Avengers'; David Ayer Says Joker Is "Majestic" Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Watch: Paul Thomas Anderson's Sophomore Short 'Cigarettes & Coffee' Watch: Paul Thomas Anderson's Sophomore Short 'Cigarettes & Coffee' Another Oscar? First Look At Eddie Redmayne In Tom Hooper's 'The Danish Girl' Another Oscar? First Look At Eddie Redmayne In Tom Hooper's 'The Danish Girl' 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" New Looks At Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, And Lea Seydoux In 'Spectre' New Looks At Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, And Lea Seydoux In 'Spectre' The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

Discuss: Is The Golden Age Of Pixar Over?

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist July 17, 2012 at 4:09PM

With the news today that Disney and Pixar are moving forward with a sequel to their beloved 2003 masterpiece "Finding Nemo" (to be helmed, once again, by Andrew Stanton, apparently newly freed from director jail after this spring's notorious flop "John Carter"), it is another indication that Pixar has truly been absorbed into the Disney bloodstream. Even though it's arguably one of the least open-ended movies Pixar has ever made, Disney is intent on wringing more dollars from its name brand and all the squishy toys that can be made from various aquatic wildlife. It's enough, with Pixar's recent string of sequels and the creative fogginess of this summer's "Brave," to wonder: is the Golden Age of Pixar truly over?
23
Pixar Logo

With the news today that Disney and Pixar are moving forward with a sequel to their beloved 2003 masterpiece "Finding Nemo" (to be helmed, once again, by Andrew Stanton, apparently newly freed from director jail after this spring's notorious flop "John Carter"), it is another indication that Pixar has truly been absorbed into the Disney bloodstream. Even though it's arguably one of the least open-ended movies Pixar has ever made, Disney is intent on wringing more dollars from its name brand and all the squishy toys that can be made from various aquatic wildlife. It's enough, with Pixar's recent string of sequels and the creative fogginess of this summer's "Brave," to wonder: is the Golden Age of Pixar truly over?

Pixar has enjoyed the kind of creative, commercial, and critical success that few studios even dream of, much less achieve. But they did it. Film after film was a smash – from "Finding Nemo's" domestic haul of $339 million to the fact that New York Times critic A.O. Scott named Stanton's second feature, the robots-in-love space opus "WALL-E," the best movie of the decade. What was more – they were topping themselves each time out. "Ratatouille," writer/director Brad Bird's bold turnaround of a troubled project that also doubled as a deeply felt metaphor for Pixar/Disney relations at the time, was followed up by the fearlessly experimental "WALL-E" (largely silent, incorporating human performances, sharply satirical) and then came "Up," a sweet-natured ode to the gracefulness of aging that also had elements of steam-punk adventurism (plus a talking dog and a magical, multi-colored bird).

Lotso Toy Story 3

While there were often small chinks in the armor (the frustrating fact that "Up" climaxed in yet another Pixar chase sequence), even things like "Toy Story 3" – ostensibly one trip to the well too many – turned out to be a profoundly emotional experience (and another runaway financial, critical and cultural success). After Disney owned Pixar outright (after much back-and-forth), you could feel a subtle shift – Pixar characters started to overtake the Disney parks (why are Mike and Sully in Tomorrowland in Florida anyway?) and the Pixar films themselves seemed to pivot in the direction of commercial, rather than creative, sustainability. The serviceable "Cars" was easily the Pixar film met with the most amount of lukewarm indifference, but that didn't stop a sequel from getting made (with a direct-to-video spin-off in the works), mostly because of the billions of dollars of "Cars" merchandise that is sold every year and the fact that Carsland, the centerpiece of the $1 billion+ expansion of the Disney California Adventure theme park, would be opening soon.

"Cars 2" was a disaster – visually cluttered with a narrative less fuel-injected than running on fumes – but it might have been the shape of things to come. This year Pixar suffered two fatal blows – this spring's "John Carter," which, up until a few months before its release was still being touted as "Pixar's first live-action feature," and "Brave," a costly movie mired in creative difficulties that has been released to solid box office but not nearly the kind of critical support the studio is used to. (It proved that, if you're not Brad Bird, you can't turn around a troubled project and come out on top.)

This article is related to: Pixar , Walt Disney Pictures


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates