Will It Bring The Glory Days Back? Pixar Promises Less Sequels & One Original Movie Per Year Going Forward

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by Kevin Jagernauth
June 28, 2013 1:48 PM
12 Comments
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Has Pixar hit a slump? Well, maybe not financially, as "Monsters University" was the second biggest opening in the studio's history, hauling in $82 million last weekend. But at least in the perception of people, well, like us -- Pixar has wavered from the path that made them who they are. The past four years have essentially seen the company, who once prided themselves on delivering original movies unlike what everyone else was doing, deliver two sequels ("Toy Story 3," "Cars 2"), one prequel ("Monsters University") and one original ("Brave"). More crucially, "Toy Story 3" aside, the films haven't been met with the same widespread critical acclaim as their earlier efforts (though box office has pretty much stayed consistent) and folks have been wondering if they're lost the secret sauce that made them one of the best in the game? Well, they aren't doing down without a fight.

“For artistic reasons … it’s really important that we do an original film a year,” Pixar Animation Studios President Ed Catmull told BuzzFeed. And indeed, it seems the animation studio is taking stock of their approach and are gearing up for a whole new game plan. “We’re going to have an original film every year, then every other year have a sequel to something,” he said. “That’s the rough idea.”

And they do have quite a number of original films planned already, with "The Good Dinosaur" and "The Inside Out" coming in 2014 and 2015, and with the "Untitled Pixar film about Día de los Muertos" arriving in 2016. And in keeping with the sequel every-so-often approach, "Finding Dory" -- the followup to "Finding Nemo" -- will also join the 2016 slate. But don't expect Pixar to drop sequels altogether as Catmull, in more diplomatic language, says that sometimes it's just going to happen because the demand (or licensing opportunity, we'd wager) is there.

“Every once in a while, we get a film where we want or people want to see something continuing in that world — which is the rationale behind the sequel. They want those characters, which means we were successful with them. But if you keep doing that, then you aren’t doing original films,” he says. Which is all fine and good, but one wonders why perhaps the most screamed about and desired sequel -- one for "The Incredibles" -- remains nowhere to be seen, while "Cars" managed a follow-up. Oh right, it's because "Cars" prints Walter White-sized stacks of cash through merchandising...

But overall, it seems Catmull is determined to put great films first, and perhaps take some of the market share back that's been grabbed by DreamWorks Animation and their increasingly well received run of movies. But what do you think? Can Pixar go back to indie creativity they once reveled in or will being forever chained to the Disney machine continually compromise their vision? Weigh in below.

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12 Comments

  • Vaylon Kenadell | September 25, 2013 5:20 PMReply

    FEWER sequels, not less.

  • Austin | July 22, 2013 12:56 AMReply

    Brave was loved by everyone in my town and people around the world.It was beautifully animated, with a great twist of being a Darker Fairy tale.I loved it. I heard news of a potential sequel to the film and think it would be a great idea, because every great movie deserves a sequel.Critics are full of hot air assholes who think their opinion only matters.Plus these critics are saying that if for example 20,000,000 people liked Brave but 20 critics didnt, that they are right and the other 20,000,000 are wrong? Thats why I never go off from critics because they have been in the dark watching movies for so long that they have forgotten what its like to be a kids and what a good movie really is!

  • william | July 21, 2013 5:58 AMReply

    I don't think it's a case of Pixar's quality dropping, it's just that Critic's expecations have, rightfully, increased. Film from Pixar getting 78% and DreamWorks films getting 67% in recent years I honestly think would have gotten 90 or 80 a few years ago. Monsters University's only real problem is that it was ANOTHER Buddy Film; in it's own right it was meaningful and charming. Brave had imperfections, but it's biggest flaw in my view is that it was a missed opportunity to REALLY do a breakaway film for Pixar and add even more adventure and eerie folklore.

    What I think is happening is that the critics are simply not pulling any punches on Pixar because they've become so acclaimed critically, and hopefully this will push Pixar to not only continue to make great films, but maybe push them into far more DIFFERENT films.

  • John | June 29, 2013 6:21 PMReply

    Monsters U was terrible. Pixar is a joke now.

  • Greg | June 28, 2013 6:03 PMReply

    I'm bummed whenever I see a sequel on Pixar's docket, but my niece and nephew explode with joy. Sometimes their goal can just be to entertain kids and make money. I'm fine with that. On those years, there are plenty of complex, ambiguous movies for adults.

  • Chris Deburgh | June 28, 2013 3:47 PMReply

    Picturing money stacked in a life-size replica of Walter White. It's very cool but I think you'd need the world's population worth of Walt Money People before we approached Cars' insane Scrooge McDuckian intake.

  • Mike | June 28, 2013 3:07 PMReply

    Why are people citing Brave and Monsters University as signs of Pixar waning?

    Brave was an original take on a Princess movie that every little kid I run across enjoyed. And the theater was howling at Monsters U.

    Really, media loves to drum up drama.

  • starway2001 | June 28, 2013 5:15 PM

    I'm with you on this one, Mike. I always laugh when the "superior" online commentariat, usually made up of old fat male douchebags, decide which animated films are inferior. Whenever a new Pixar movies opens these days I usually proclaim, "Well, let's see if an article (any article, really) can be written about said-movie without some derisive dig on "Cars 2".

  • Jeff | June 28, 2013 4:14 PM

    Because the two films you mentioned have been almost universally considered by critics to be a step down in quality when compared to the earlier films. Whether audiences agree is another question, but this topic is most certainly not a media creation...

  • joe | June 28, 2013 2:48 PMReply

    Finding Dory is a 2015 film, btw.

    And I think that The Good Dinosaur is going to bring back those "glory days". Pixar and Dinosaurs is a match made in heaven.

  • Gendry | June 28, 2013 2:33 PMReply

    "Take some of the marketshare back that's been grabbed by DreamWorks Animation and their increasingly well received run of movies"?

    Seriously??? Let me break it down for you: During the same period that Pixar release the last 4 movies you cited (i.e. since summer 2010), Dreamworks has release 7 (soon to be 8 with Turbo), FOUR of which are sequels or spinoff. The other three "originals" (Megamind, Rise of Guardians, Croods) are doing anything but grabbing audience attention, because they are mediocre and uninteresting. Judges are still out with Turbo, but I would bet anything that it will sit nicely with this bland group. So back to you: do you think Dreamworks is grabbing the marketshare because their sequels are raking in huge box office numbers? If that's so, why beat Pixar with that very same stick?

  • Tanner | June 28, 2013 2:09 PMReply

    Just to be fair, pretty sure The Incredibles leads to the printing of some pretty fat stacks itself.

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