The last few years have been a dark time for Pixar. Their once untouchable reputation—"Toy Story 3" was both a Best Picture nominee and a billion-dollar grosser—has taken increasing knocks over the last few years, with an original film that (unfairly, we'd suggest) got middling reviews, and a pair of sequels that few asked for, and that not many more thought were deserving of the studio's creative legacy.
As such, eyes were turned on the D23 expo today, when the studio were unveiling their slate for the next three years. Our Disney correspondent Drew Taylor is on the floor, and you can expect to hear more on his impressions of what was shown and how it went down very soon, but first the newsy bits, as the studio unveiled the voice casts for 2014's "The Good Dinosaur," 2015's "Inside Out" and 2016's "Finding Dory."
"The Good Dinosaur"—helmed by "Up" co-director Bob Peterson and Pete Sohn—involves a group of dinosaurs who come across the first human. The lead, Arlo, will be played by "Raising Hope" star Lucas Neff, with Judy Greer and Bill Hader as his his siblings, and John Lithgow, Frances McDormand and Neil Patrick Harris also in the cast.
Meanwhile, "Inside Out" is the return of "Up" helmer Pete Docter, and has an ambitious "Herman's Head"-style conceit that shows the way emotions drive its lead character. In a move so brilliant we're surprised it hasn't happened before, Amy Poehler will play the lead, Joy, while Mindy Kaling will be Disgust, Lewis Black is Anger, and Phyllis Smith from "The Office" is Sadness. Bill Hader also returns for his third Pixar in a row (he voiced the snail creature in "Monsters University"), as the voice of Fear.
Finally, "Finding Nemo" sequel "Finding Dory" is a little further off, but also spilled the beans on the cast. Aside from the returning Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres, we'll meet Dory's parents, to be voiced in a brilliant casting coup by Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy, while Ty Burrell will play a Beluga whale named Bailey. No Bill Hader as of yet, but you never know. Keep your eyes peeled for more from D23 both today and tomorrow. The press release with full Pixar/Disney D23 details on page 2.