Thursday, March 13, 2014

Not Going Extinct

Pixar President Ed Catmull himself recently wrote about mistakes and the fact that things go wrong… This piece is essentially him owning up to Pixar's recent trip-ups, and how sometimes, even the pros can't make the greatest decisions at certain times. That's totally alright. In case you are new here, no I'm not in the "Pixar is declining"/"Let's make fun of Pixar" boat.

Anyways, this whole mistakes/things going wrong business… This is what I've been saying for months. Reality happened, Pixar was bound to make some questionable decisions, but I digress…

But something stuck out to me in this piece… Catmull said that The Good Dinosaur is being "restarted" and that they are going to "rethink the team". Also, we got a good idea of how many people were laid off not too long ago: About 50 people.

Since Catmull deemed the idea behind the film promising in addition to everything else he said, I think we can safely say that The Good Dinosaur will not be going the way of Newt. It won't be shelved for a long time or cancelled, it's still moving forward, but a new film is probably being made rather than the one Bob Peterson set out to make. Maybe…

Could this be a Yellow Car/Trash Planet situation?

If you don't know, The Yellow Car and Trash Planet were two unmade Pixar films that eventually evolved into Cars and WALL-E respectively. The Yellow Car was conceived by John Lasseter and the crew in 1996, the year after Toy Story was released. At the time, A Bug's Life was going full-steam ahead and Disney had just commissioned the studio to make a direct-to-video sequel to Toy Story. Monsters, Inc. was deep in development, ditto Finding Nemo and Trash Planet.

The Yellow Car was supposed to be about a little three-wheeled electric car living in a world of gas-guzzlers that reject him. It was basically The Ugly Duckling set in a world of anthropomorphic vehicles. That didn't work out, and in 2000, Lasseter took a cross-country trip with his family that inspired him to come up with what would become Cars. Six years later, that film hit the big screen.

Trash Planet, as stated by WALL-E's very first teaser trailer, was one of the ideas Pixar conceived during that legendary lunch at the Hidden City Cafe in Point Richmond, California back in 1994 when Toy Story was nearing completion. Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter worked on it the following year, but it didn't go anywhere. Docter jumped onboard Monsters, Inc., Stanton turned to Finding Nemo. In 2002, when Nemo was close to completion, Stanton revisited the little robot and in late 2003, development began. Nearly five years later, WALL-E hit the big screen.

Now will this happen to the dinosaur flick? Maybe… Perhaps they want to respect Bob Peterson by not possibly butchering his creation that he was kicked off of. They may craft a new dinosaur story around some elements from the Peterson film, or maybe not. Peterson said this back in August…

It's possible that they are still making The Good Dinosaur, rather than a new dinosaur picture. I kind of want them to make a new one, but it's possible that Peterson may like the direction it's going right now. We don't know…

The release date is still November 25, 2015. A new director hasn't been named or announced yet, and the film is a year and a half away. I don't quite know if that's enough time to "fix" The Good Dinosaur.

If they come up with a new film about dinosaurs, the project might be pushed back. If they started a new dinosaur film last summer for a fall 2015 release, then it would've taken 2 1/2 years to bring to the big screen. I think it could be done though, because Disney did this with a little movie called The Emperor's New Groove. We animation buffs all know the story… That film evolved out of a big Roger Allers-directed Incan musical that Disney intended to release in summer 2000, but the project ran into major problems two years before its intended release date, the director left the project and the film was ultimately - and completely - retooled in early 1999, with a December 2000 release date. The crew, with nearly 2 years to make it, delivered.

The Emperor's New Groove might not have been a box office success, but it was critically acclaimed, people really liked it (it opened badly but pulled ridiculous legs at the box office), it did extremely well when it hit home video. You can't rush art, but you can probably still make a good if not great film in such a short time span, if the story is really, really working. Toy Story 2 was retooled less than a year away from its release by a very burnt out Lasseter, as he replaced the man who was originally going to direct it. Had New Groove been a success, it would've shut the door on the 90s Disney musical and ushered in a new era… That sadly did not happen.

Back to dino, though.

The dino film, unlike Emperor's New Groove back in early 1999, doesn't have a director. Either that or they haven't announced who the new director is. (Pete Sohn? Someone else?) Maybe it does have a director and they're keeping it under wraps, who knows… If they have a strong enough story and script, then a 2 1/2-year production frame won't be a problem. If it's not quite coming together just yet, I'd say change the release date - though that would very be frustrating for some.

Do you think Pixar is completely retooling the film? Or do you think they are still going through with the film Bob Peterson set out to make? Do you think it'll keep its Thanksgiving 2015 release date?

Sound off with your theories below!

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