Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pixar Puzzle Pieces

I have a Pixar Theory! And NO... The theory doesn't speculate about the movies all being connected... No, this theory concerns their upcoming slate. No worries!

I may have moved all future slate predictions to a page of its own, but I figure I'd talk about Pixar's slate because it raises a lot of questions... I'll also be focusing on everything post-2015, because of course the 2015 slate was set in stone back in September 2013, when Pixar pushed The Good Dinosaur from summer 2014 to November 2015. Nothing has changed since that very day, Inside Out is obviously close to completion and the teaser is out, The Good Dinosaur is moving forward with its reimagined story and new director.

So... The future...

Pixar has two sequels already dated: Finding Dory and Toy Story 4. The former is set for a June 2016 release, the latter follows in June 2017...

What else is Pixar said to be working on? Two more sequels; The Incredibles 2 and Cars 3. Lee Unkrich has been working on a Day of the Dead-themed film since roughly 2011. Mark Andrews, finishing director of Brave, has a project in the works. Teddy Newton was said to have been leading a project scripted by Safety Not Guaranteed scribe Derek Connelly, but it seems as if Newton is no longer at Pixar. Is the project being handled by someone else now?

Moving on...

What were the dates Pixar locked back in May of 2013?


Back then, Finding Dory was scheduled for November 25, 2015, as the film to follow Inside Out. But 2014's Good Dinosaur got pushed back, pushing Finding Dory to June 2016. Despite the fact that these dates were claimed back in May of 2013, nothing has changed. Ditto Walt Disney Animation Studios' 2016-2018 line-up of dates...

So now we have this...

6/17/2016 - Finding Dory
6/16/2017 - Toy Story 4

What fills the other two slots?

I highly doubt the remaining sequels will fill both, though it is possible. But I can't see Pixar doing that. Four sequels in a row? I mean, before this Toy Story 4 news was even dropped, half of the Internet was pissed, disheartened, they felt like they were betrayed, etc. Four in a row would send the entire blogosphere into a spiraling frenzy!

So no, I don't think that's going to be happening... Pixar may have sequels in the works, but I just can't see them - since they're a studio who made a ton of originals and only one sequel up until 2010 - belting nothing but sequels out for 2 years.

At the same time, how long will they make the public wait for The Incredibles 2 and Cars 3?

Simple. Pixar doesn't care about the wait in this day age.

Supposedly, Pixar wanted to make a third Toy Story as far back as 2002. But two things got in the way.

A) There were three other movies in the pipeline first. Pixar didn't halt Finding Nemo, The Incredibles or Cars just to make and crank out a Toy Story 3 so it wouldn't come too late after the second film, which opened in 1999. In 2002, Finding Nemo was nearing completion and The Incredibles really chugging. Cars was probably in decent shape, but they wanted to concentrate on those three films and then get to a Toy Story 3 when they'd get to it. They didn't care if they had to wait till 2006 or 2010 or maybe even 2020 to make it. Also, in 2002, Ratatouille was in very early stages.

Back in 2002/2003, it seemed as if Pixar would release one movie every calendar year. Finding Nemo was coming in summer 2003, The Incredibles was penciled in for fall 2004, Cars was pegged for fall 2005. They also prematurely slotted Ratatouille for a fall 2006 release. WALL-E wasn't in the cards at this time, and the earliest piece concept art for Up I've seen is from 2003. Around this time, Toy Story 3 could've been a 2008 release since Pixar clearly wanted to make one...

But by 2004, they realized that they couldn't... This leads me to...

B) Disney.

Toy Story 2 was one of the roots of Disney and Pixar's problems when Michael Eisner was CEO of the company. There were disagreements over whether it counted as part of the three-film contract or not, being that it was a sequel and a film that originally commissioned as a direct-to-video film. Also, Pixar was not going to renew the contract with Disney because they, especially Steve Jobs, were tired of Eisner and the cronies' actions. After the eventual completion Cars, the contract would come to an end. Pixar would then pack their bags and join forces with another distributor...

Disney, however, had all the rights to the films produced under those contracts. Everything from Toy Story to Cars. Pixar wouldn't have been able to make sequels to any of those if the split would happen. Naturally, Disney was ready to take advantage of that. Eisner had Disney set up Circle 7 Studios, an outlet to create sequels to the Pixar films following the break-up, if it were to happen. It was really blackmail more than anything, and it created even bigger rifts between the company and the Emeryville house. They got as far as locking scripts for a Toy Story 3 where Buzz Lightyear malfunctions and is recalled to the Taiwanese factory where he was assembled, a Monsters, Inc. 2 where Mike and Sully search for a grown-up Boo in the human world, and a Finding Nemo 2.

But the madness ended when Eisner was ousted in 2005. Bob Iger took the reigns, Disney bought Pixar in 2006, everything's fine and dandy. However, due to legal issues, Pixar had to overwrite the three scripts that Circle 7 had. This means that they had to do Toy Story 3, a Monsters, Inc. follow-up and Finding Nemo sequel. No two ways about it.

Since the Pixarians had a Toy Story 3 that they wanted to make for a while, they immediately rebooted the production at the studio. However, they didn't want to crank it out. Ratatouille was next in summer 2007, as the movie was deep in production when Cars opened. WALL-E was next because the story was really in great shape. 2009 then? At one time, it was thought that Toy Story 3 would be Pixar's 2009 release, but then Up raced ahead. So Pixar held Toy Story 3 off and waited till the time was right to complete it. They didn't rush it out, nor did they race for the money.

They did the same for Monsters University, and they're doing the same for Finding Dory. Monsters U's development can be traced back to 2007, and rumors of its existence leaked around 2008/2009. But did they crank it out? Nope, they waited till 2013, when the time was right. Finding Dory? Well, rumors got out in 2010 so I assume it was in some form of development. The movie's not out till 2016, so that's six years right there. If it was in development before that, then Pixar will have really taken their time on this sequel. Give them credit for that!

Anyways, long story short, the wait doesn't and didn't matter to them. Andrew Stanton also implied this when interviewed about Finding Dory a while back... They take their time on sequels, Cars 2 excepted. But even then, they focused on what was in the works first, rather than just cranking Cars 2 out sometime in 2009 or 2010.

This is all why I don't think they'll release all four sequels at once...


The Incredibles 2... Brad Bird has talked about it for a while, saying he'll do an Incredibles sequel when he has a good idea. He's currently writing the sequel, though no director has been named yet. It's possible that he's had ideas stewing since the first one came out ten years ago, or maybe he came up with the full story earlier this year... Again, we don't know. Disney and Pixar officially confirmed it in March of this year. Right now he's hoping that the studio approves of his script and will want to make the movie. Says a lot of good right there.

We have an idea of when Toy Story 4 began development: 2012. Comes out in 2017. 5 years in the works, so that's more than enough time for the Pixar wizards to craft a worthy follow-up to the excellent trilogy.

Cars 3? The voice of the Sheriff, Michael Wallis, let it slip in August 2013 that the film exists. However, I've seen reports that showed the film was entered development in 2011, when Cars 2 was finished.

So when do those other two sequels come out? Will Pixar want them out sooner? Or will they stick to their tradition and wait?

I have a feeling they'll wait on The Incredibles 2. By 2016, Cars 3 will have been stewing for five years. I actually think Pixar will have it out by then just to get it out of the way.


Finding Dory - June 17, 2016
Cars 3 - TBA 2016
Toy Story 4 - June 16, 2017

Okay, whoa!! That's three sequels in a row. Still pretty big, and bad if you're upset about Pixar sequels. But where else could Pixar release Cars 3 in 2016? If it could open earlier than Finding Dory, you would've thought that Disney and Bob Iger would excitedly announce its actual release date at the recent meeting. Maybe the corporates realize that the studio isn't sure of a release date yet, if that is the case.

But still, I can see it being banged out during the late summer/early autumn. Maybe an August 2016 release, considering that Disney used that spot for the release of the first Planes. Cars 3, although it's a Pixar production unlike the Planes movies, could be treated as a second-tier Planes-esque moneymaker that they'll just dump in August so they can be done with it. Maybe... Big maybe. Remember, this is all speculation.

Anyways, August 2016 would probably be a fine spot, Finding Dory would have already made bank by then. Movies rack up so much in weeks, and even then, Finding Dory will still hang on in the later months and weeks - Cars 3 or no Cars 3 in its way. September is pretty much a no-go, since Sony Animation wants to release something on 9/23 and WB wants Ninjago out that same day, though one of those flicks is sure to move.

So what happens next?

Well, what's going on with Lee Unkrich's still-untitled 'Day of the Dead' movie? There's a piece of concept art, and the slate on Pixar's official website lists it but without a concrete release date. Unkrich has spoken about it a few times, but little else. I admire the fact that Pixar still hasn't dated this little movie, and instead chooses to focus on what they feel is working and get those out first. Obviously Finding Dory was in fine enough shape to move ahead of 'Day of the Dead', and now it seems that is the case with Toy Story 4... Maybe. Pixar, if we leave Cars 2 out of the equation, is very consistent and always seems to complete a film when they feel the time is right.

So I can see 'Day of the Dead' being a 2017 release. Now, Pixar has had - as seen above - the 11/22/2017 slot locked for a while. However, it would be unusual for both them and Disney to release a Day of the Dead-themed film long after the actual Day of the Dead holiday (which occurs from October 31st to November 2nd), so if 'Day of the Dead' is a 2017 release, then it's coming in October.

So maybe this could happen?

Finding Dory - June 17, 2016
Cars 3 - TBA 2016
Toy Story 4 - June 16, 2017
Dia De Los Muertos - TBA October 2017

Or... 'Day of the Dead' won't come till 2018. 2019. Who knows! What's ready, is ready.

The same goes for the sequels. Pixar logically could've banged Toy Story 4 out in 2014 or 2015 since they got the idea in 2012. They could've simply rushed it into production and got it done just to shut the Disney bean counters up, but they didn't! This means that The Incredibles 2 and Cars 3 can come out anytime. Forget my theory that Incredibles 2 will be the 6/15/2018 release, it'll come out whenever!

But, my real theory is this...

We know of four originals that are in the pipeline: Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur, 'Day of the Dead', and Mark Andrews' project. Not sure about what's going on with the Teddy Newton project...

We know of four sequels coming: Finding Dory, Toy Story 4, Cars 3, The Incredibles 2...

I think that Pixar has a boatload of original films in development as we speak, and they'll begin to appear from 2017-2018 to go along with the sequels. Pixar has been trying to edge into releasing two films a calendar year, and they're finally going to succeed with Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur in 2015. They don't have another film scheduled for 2016, but anything can happen between now and then. Ditto 2018. Companies may secure dates early on, but they are never a lock. For example, Disney Animation could very well fill 2017 with something, even though 2017 is Disney Animation-less right now.

But here's the thing, why would Pixar announce sequels first and not their originals? Why wouldn't they announce originals? Isn't that what fans want to hear?

One word: DISNEY.

Who announced that The Incredibles 2 and Cars 3 were in development? Disney. Where? At a shareholder conference. Bob Iger himself proudly announced it. Since he spilled the proverbial beans, Pixar had to basically follow it up with Facebook and Twitter announcements.

Who announced Toy Story 4 first? Disney. Where? At a shareholder conference, again! John Lasseter then spoke about the film, because again, the beans were spilt.

Shareholders probably want to hear about sequels and franchises, not originals, hence Iger excitedly announcing those films to them in the conference. No word on 'Day of the Dead', because they're not going to want to hear that. They're probably happy that Pixar had a Toy Story 4 that was secretly brewing while looking at 'Day of the Dead' and saying, "Ehhhh!"

Now, how does Pixar roll out original concepts? Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur were officially revealed at the second D23 Expo in August 2011, "The Untitled Pixar Movie That Takes You Inside the Mind" and "The Untitled Pixar Movie About Dinosaurs". Where was it revealed that Lee Unkrich's new film would be about Day of the Dead? The April 2012 CinemaCon expo! The originals are announced to fans, the sequels are announced to the money people.

Let's also compare this situation to Marvel Studios and Warner Bros./DC. How does Marvel announce the movies they themselves are psyched about? Easy, hold an event at El Capitan Theater and make their fans more excited than a cat being given catnip! Warner Bros./DC? Oh, just announce the DC line-up that goes to 2020, the DC line-up that goes to 2020, at a shareholder conference without even saying what the concrete release dates are!

See where I'm going. Pixar unveils the stuff we want to know about in certain ways, while the sequel news is broken to us in a corporate manner. The Incredibles 2 and Cars 3, for all we know, may not even come out before 2018!

So basically I think that Pixar has a ton of originals brewing, set for the far future. I think they're holding onto this stuff and making sure that no one knows about it, because when they do unveil it, the world will rejoice. Look at the way the majority of the Internet got so psyched over Inside Out as if they didn't know that it existed 3 years ago. They'll be even happier when they see that Good Dinosaur, another original, will follow it.

Now think of how amazed they will be when they hear that more originals are coming from 2017 to 2020!

I think that's going to happen, because I just can't see Pixar's 2016-2018 slate being THAT sequel heavy. Plus, dates change. I reckon we'll see some originals get in through the cracks...


  1. Well, you're right in everything. But I do think Pixar may/will release a sequel every year from 2016 to 2019. I'm not a big fan of Cars franchise. These movies are not the typical great Pixar film, still they're good. I enjoyed them and certainly kids can go wild with a new flick. But there won't be two sequels in 2016… That'll be saturation and Pixar/Disney need try to avoid it. I would, however, reiterate that they can release a sequel every year starting from 2016 at least until 2019.

    From what I've seen of the Disney slate, I think they're trying to balance the weight of its two super animation brands: Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

    But it should not be the only consideration. Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars feature films must be taken into account. They are kind of “heavyweights”.

    2015: 2 Pixar movies, no Disney but AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON!, Ant-Man and STAR WARS EPISODE VII

    2016: 2 Disney movies (Zootopia? Moana?) / 1 Pixar movie

    2017: 2 Pixar / no Disney movies but THREE Marvel FILMS!!! And Star Wars again!

    2018: 2 Disney movies (Giants? Galactic? Wreck-it Ralph 2?) / 1 Pixar movie

    2019: 2 Pixar movies / No Disney animation so far, but…. Oh my gosh, INFINITY WAR Part 2! Probably two more Marvel films, and “the end” of this new Star Wars trilogy!

    So my predictions (as I wrote in your other post “Conflicted…”) are:

    − INSIDE OUT - June 19, 2015
    − THE GOOD DINOSAUR - November 25, 2015

    − ZOOTOPIA - March 4, 2016
    − FINDING DORY - June 17, 2016
    − MOANA - November 23, 2016

    − TOY STORY 4 - June 16, 2017
    − UNTITLED LEE UNKRICH FILM - November 22, 2017? (But, as you mentioned, it must be an October release)

    − GIANTS - March 9, 2018
    − CARS 3 - June 15, 2018
    − GALACTIC? WRECK-IT RALPH 2? - November 21, 2018

    − UNTITLED MARK ANDREWS? FILM - summer 2019
    − THE INCREDIBLES 2 - 2019 holidays, maybe a November release as the first one.

    Maybe this could happen as well.

    One may think that Disney see Pixar and Marvel movies at the same level, at least according to the box office. You can compare both brands. In the market, they have been/are highly profitable.

    Highlighting the above, we have four originals that are in the pipeline: Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur, Lee Unkrich's and Mark Andrews' projects. And four sequels: Finding Dory, Toy Story 4, Cars 3, The Incredibles 2 (the last two in development).

    It might not be as bad as it seems!

  2. As a Disney stockholder myself, I too am pretty skeptical about a Toy Story 4. I thought that was a great conclusion to the trilogy. However, if the new fourth installment proves to be as good as Toy Story of Terror and the upcoming Toy Story that Time Forgot!, I'm all for it. Bring it on, Pixar.

  3. Bravo Kyle! Super insightful and a nice breakdown of Pixar's sequels. I hope your predictions are right!

  4. Great post Kyle! I have a couple of comments. Ed Catmull has stated that Pixar wants to start doing an original film every year, with a sequel every other year. So that works with what you have through 2017. Then hopefully another original film in 2018 rather than Cars 3, so maybe Mark Andrew's film? That would mean Cars 3 wouldn't come out until 2019 and The Incredibles 2 after that! It's hard to imagine thinking about film dates in 2020!! It also means, as you point out, I think there have to be some new original films under development we haven't heard about, which is exciting.

    Also, I'm pretty sure Teddy Newton has left Pixar. Nothing official but he was seen with Lino DiSalvo and John Kahrs touring Paramount right before Lino announced he was leaving Disney to go to Paramount (Kahrs had already moved there).

    1. Hi Jeff, sorry for the late reply...

      I remember when Catmull talked about that, but then I began to disregard it a bit since 'Finding Dory' and 'Toy Story 4' are now a year apart. I still won't rule out the next sequel being a 2019 release, though! It will be a bit tough to think that 'The Incredibles 2' could possibly be 7 years away, too! Maybe we'll go a year without a sequel, and then a year with two sequels. Like we'll only see an original (Mark Andrews' film, as you suggested) in 2018, and then 'Cars 3' and 'The Incredibles 2' both arrive in 2019 so they don't open after this decade. Hmmmm...

      As for Teddy Newton, I've been confused about that. I remember finding out about the photo about a few months ago... But it makes me wonder, what's going to happen to that project of his that Derek Connelly was supposed to write?

  5. Good point about his project with Derek Connelly. I wonder, if he did leave, if he could've taken that project to Paramount? Also, Teddy always seemed to enjoy working "on the edge". Maybe he even mentioned it at the Cartoon Art Museum benefit I was at. Pixar isn't afraid of pushing the envelope but perhaps his project was trying to push too far. . .