Friday, May 30, 2014
Once people had found out about Reel FX's The Book of Life, due out this autumn, was in the works, the first thing that had come to their minds was this... "What will this mean for Pixar's 'Day of the Dead' movie? Will they cancel it like they did with Newt because of Rio similarities?"
It was believed by many that Rio was the main reason why Pixar pulled the plug on Newt, a tale of a domesticated male newt and a street-smart female who, in order to save their species - the blue-footed newts, must mate. Yes, the plot was similar to Rio, except that movie had blue macaws and not amphibians. John Lasseter even alluded to the Rio similarities, saying something along the lines of "great minds think alike!"
No... Newt mostly didn't pan out for two reasons. One, director Gary Rydstrom was going to go the way of Jan Pinkava, Brenda Chapman and Bob Peterson. His replacement, Pete Docter, turned down the project because he wanted to do his own new project, Inside Out. All of this was confirmed by Ed Catmull recently. It all had nothing to do with Rio, as Pixar had no problem moving forward with Ratatouille knowing full well that Aardman's Flushed Away (at one time titled Ratropolis) was going to come out before it.
Also, if Newt did go through around 2010, the film wouldn't be out until late 2013 at the earliest considering that Cars 2 (2011) and Brave (2012) were first in the pipeline, not to mention Monsters University. Rio did okay enough, the sequel is doing adequate business, they haven't set the box office on fire. Okay, worldwide they did great but still... Newt would've done fine, Rio similarities or not. I think Pixar's folks knew that too. A similar movie was the least of their problems when it came to Newt.
So now here we are, 2014. Reel FX has their Day of the Dead-themed film The Book of Life coming out this autumn. Pixar's still-untitled Day of the Dead-themed film doesn't have a release date set in stone yet, though logically it should be the film that will arrive after Finding Dory, which opens in the summer of 2016. The earliest this film hits theaters is Halloween 2016.
I have never really talked about this, because I don't think The Book of Life will be an issue for Pixar's film. Never thought it would be, actually. Director Jorge Guiterrez said recently that he's been working on his film for over a decade. I'm not sure when Pixar or director Lee Unkrich got the idea to do a Day of the Dead film, but hey, great minds thinking alike!
I also think that audiences don't reject movies simply because of similarities. We see tons of similar-looking films perform well all the time, sometimes in the same year! Audiences went to go see Antz and A Bug's Life, both came out within a month of each other! Audiences flocked to see Shark Tale, despite the fact that Finding Nemo came out over a year before it. Flushed Away didn't affect Ratatouille.
As long as Pixar's Day of the Dead film looks good from the trailers and marketing, it'll have no problem whatsoever. Again, Newt wasn't canceled just because of a similar movie. There were other problems, and it was time to move on for a little while. Newt isn't dead either, it's been put on the shelf... Which means one day, it'll be taken off the shelf and re-evaluated. No concepts ever died at Pixar. Cars and WALL-E, anyone?
That all being said, I really really hope The Book of Life is a big hit. Reel FX's debut film, Free Birds, was a modest hit. Let's hope this one's bigger, we need more animated films like this.