Saturday, May 25, 2013

Role Reversal

Not necessarily news, but something I've been noticing lately... Little by little...

For a very long time, being a fan of Pixar meant that you had to wait a while for information on an upcoming film of theirs. Simple things, like the title and a taste of the plot. You didn't know much about their full upcoming slate between 2003 and 2007-ish...

Let's go back to May 30, 2003... The night Finding Nemo opened in theaters nationwide. Before the film began, a trailer for The Incredibles played, which showed a rather plump Mr. Incredible attempting to put on a belt. Like all of the Pixar teasers since A Bug's Life, what's in it will not be in the film. It's footage that's made special for the teaser. When is it coming out? November 5th... 2004... Over a year away! What's Pixar got cooking for 2005? Go to IMDb or look at some news and you'll see Cars, a John Lasseter film. What is it about? All we know is that it's about talking cars (obviously) and it takes place in a Route 66 setting. What do the Pixar wizards have in store for us in 2006? Ratatouille... What do we know? Just the title and who will be directing it, Jan Pinkava. That's it... Nothing about any future productions, unless something about WALL-E happened to slip through the cracks... Chances are you came across W.A.L.E. instead... And you had no idea what it was about. WALE? What does that mean? Wales? Whales?

Flash forward November 5, 2004... The Incredibles is now playing at your local cineplex after the long wait, the reviews are stellar, the film is making big bucks at the box office! A teaser trailer for Cars is rolling before it. The teaser - like every teaser Pixar had made since A Bug's Life - has footage that won't appear in the final film. All we knew at the time was that it was coming to theaters on November 4, 2005... Until it was delayed to June 9, 2006 one month later. We knew Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy were in it, we knew the basic plot, but that was about it. Now what about Ratatouille? What's the deal? Well, we got a plot synopsis! One that was... Well... Nothing like what we got! A rat living in a Parisian restaurant with an eccentric, famous chef? Not quite. (Oh, and do you remember any of those "the villain will be an exterminator" rumors?) No word on anything else for a good while...

June 9, 2006... Cars is now out. A Ratatouille teaser is shown before it, implying that the film is about a rat who wants to make a living off of good food in Paris... Essentially wacky rat hijinks where he has to steal cheese and make it through the battlefield of the kitchen to survive... "Good food... Is hard! For a rat to find!" he says to the audience while his brother Emil chows down on garbage. What's coming after Ratatouille? Well now that Disney had acquired Pixar, we knew a Pixar-produced Toy Story 3 was coming. Possibly for a 2009 release, after that W.A.L.E. movie, which was the 2008 release!

Anyways, in short, we knew little about Pixar's upcoming projects. Details and information would slowly come forth as a certain movie's release date came closer and closer. In 2003, we saw a teaser for The Incredibles that didn't say much about the plot nor did any website. Cars and Ratatouille were films that we knew about, but knew nothing about. In 2003, Cars was being geared up for production and Ratatouille was in development. WALL-E was in early development, the failed Trash Planet concept from 1994 was being retooled. Some of the first pieces of concept art were drawn for Up. Brave could've been in its very, very, very early stages at this time as well... And lord only knows what else!

By contrast, in a year like 2004, we knew about upcoming Disney projects like Chicken Little, A Day with Wilbur Robinson, American Dog, Rapunzel Unbraided and Fraidy Cat. Other projects were rumored, and we knew some of the plots of these films. Rapunzel Unbraided was slated for a 2009 release! Way back in 2004 they had that planned! American Dog seemed like it would be out sometime in 2006 or 2007. Wilbur Robinson was on track for 2006 since early 2004. Fraidy Cat? Must've been 2010. Throughout the years, we heard of changes and new additions to their upcoming slate as we got very little info on Pixar's upcoming films.

Now... Let's flash forward to what has gone on in the last 5 years.

Prior to April 2008, we all knew that Up would follow WALL-E in 2009 with Toy Story 3 coming after it for 2010. Out of nowhere, a full upcoming slate was unveiled that very spring... The announced slate told us about Newt (June 2011), The Bear and the Bow (November 2011) and Cars 2 (2012). We even got info on the directors behind the projects, and even plot details for Newt and The Bear and the Bow! Cars 2's details gave us a good idea of what it would be about. We saw an unusually big amount of details unravel before us in the coming years.

Today, we know of many Pixar films that are in production. They are still secretive to a certain extent though. The Good Dinosaur, which opens next summer, was first announced in 2011. A taste of the plot was given to us in September of that year, long before they settled on a title in April 2012! They also told us what their then-untitled mind movie was about, the title wasn't officially revealed until last month! Lee Unkrich's "Dia De Los Muertos"? Well we only knew the title of that one and the main theme. Monsters University, of course we knew some stuff about that film as well.

So now... Today, May 25th, 2013... What do we know? What's coming after Inside Out hits theaters in summer 2015? Finding Dory is set for November 2015, we know a bit about the plot and some other details. We still don't know much about the Dia De Los Muertos film, but we know that quite a few untitled films are in the works: A Teddy Newton-directed film, a Mark Andrews-directed film and two mystery films... And possibly another sequel. Gee... Back in 2004, we only knew about 2-3 or so. Nothing about what would come after 2006. (Remember, Ratatouille was initially pegged for fall 2006 at the time.)

Now, what's the deal with Walt Disney Animation Studios?

Frozen and Big Hero 6 are next and we know enough details about them. (Well... Maybe not Frozen!) Anything after that? Well we know of an untitled Ron Clements/John Musker project, reportedly a South Pacific-set re-imagining of Rumplestiltskin called The Name Game... Reportedly being the key word here. Whether it will come out in 2015 or 2016, who knows? We also know of a secret project that will be directed by Tangled co-director Byron Howard; a "wild and weird" talking animal comedy starring Jason Bateman that happens to be action-packed! No idea of a release date has been implied at the moment. John Kahrs, director of Paperman, has a film in development... And that's about it! No word on the Mickey Mouse animated feature that Burny Mattinson confirmed back in 2011. King of the Elves? Is that even in the cards for now? Anything else? Nada...

So for Pixar, we know what's coming in 2015 and possibly 2016 along with details: Inside Out, Finding Dory and Lee Unkrich's Dia De Los Muertos film. We know the basic plot lines to the first two, nothing on the third. We are also aware of two untitled projects and possibly 2-3 more. Of course, we know nothing about them other than minor details (i.e. who is directing it).

Disney Animation? Well we got word on projects that are in the works, but no release dates have been set... All we know is this: Ron and John have a film coming, Byron Howard has got something in the works and John Kahrs is working on something. Frozen's story, everyone knows, obviously. Big Hero 6? Nothing. We don't know what the plot will be or who is even in it.

My point is... They're becoming more and more secretive these days. Pixar is still secretive to an extent, but nowadays, we know of projects that will be released in theaters after 2016. For Disney Animation, we know bits and pieces of what's in store for us after Big Hero 6 bows in 2014. This secretive streak has been beginning slowly since 2008, in terms of marketing at least. In the summer of 2008, Disney released a teaser trailer for The Princess and the Frog that contained animation that was not in the finished film. Just like a Pixar teaser! Of course, the following trailers would contain footage from the finished film. In the summer of 2010, Disney made a similar move for Tangled. The teaser contained some scenes from the finished film, but some of it was composed of scenes that were made special for the teaser. Did Rapunzel beat up the unsuspecting Flynn Rider with her hair in the film? Nope!

From 2008-2009, we had a clear idea of what was coming in the next few years: The Princess and the Frog in 2009, Tangled in 2010 (then titled Rapunzel), Winnie the Pooh in 2011 (first announced in mid-2009) and King of the Elves in 2012. As King of the Elves slowly began to fade away into cancellation, rumblings about other things made the waves.

In 2010, we got word on Reboot Ralph, a rewrite of a failed film called Joe Jump. When was that supposed to come out? March 22, 2013. When Tangled came out, there was some talk of Mort, a Ron and John-helmed adaptation of the Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett. Turns out, Disney couldn't secure the rights. King of the Elves and the Snow Queen project? They were on and off.

2011? Reboot Ralph becomes Wreck-It Ralph and the film is moved from its original spring 2013 spot to November 2012. Frozen is announced in December, taking the fall 2013 spot that Pixar's The Good Dinosaur previously occupied. What's coming in 2014? Who knows... King of the Elves? That Mickey Mouse film that was mentioned once?

Summer 2012, Disney flat out tells us that Walt Disney Animation Studios teamed up with Marvel Studios to do Big Hero 6. It's 2014 release date is confirmed earlier this year, but we all knew it would be the 2014 film.

Now here we are, late spring 2013... We know about two untitled projects, rumors surrounding Ron and John's film made the waves not too long ago... But we don't know if it's really a Rumplestiltskin film or not. We do know, however, that it has a South Pacific setting. We only know about some details surrounding Byron Howard's film. King of the Elves is presumably off the slate. Anything on Mickey Mouse? Nothing...

Slowly but surely, we're beginning to know less and less about what the Mouse House is cooking up for the next 3 years. It's funny how they are seemingly swapping roles with their Emeryville allies now, ten years later. Walt Disney Animation Studios, now that they have climbed back to the top of the mountain, are now adapting Pixar's old routine by keeping details, titles and plots under wraps. They have a whole slate of "exciting" projects... They just aren't telling us! Believe me, I know it!

Maybe next year, when Big Hero 6's teaser is out, this is what the deal will be... Their 2015 release? We know the title of the film and the plot... That's it. 2016? Just the title of the film and the director(s) behind it. 2017? Nothing. No info, no film is listed. We don't hear about it until 2015.

Do you think Walt Disney Animation Studios will end up becoming very secretive about upcoming films in the coming years?

No comments:

Post a Comment