Sunday, February 15, 2015

Song of Pixar: Untitled 'Day of the Dead' Project To Be a Musical?

Could it be? Pixar might be making a feature-length musical! And it might be that Day of the Dead project they've had in development...

Back in 2011, we were told that Lee Unkrich - who made his directorial debut with Toy Story 3 - was working on his second film. In April 2012, it was revealed at that year's CinemaCon expo that the film was going to be about the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead. In January 2013, we got this lovely piece of concept artwork...

After that, we heard nothing about the film. This past December, Pixar president Jim Morris did confirm that it was still in the works and Unkrich was still directing. We all assumed that it would be released right after Inside Out, back when Inside Out was actually slated to be released after The Good Dinosaur. But then Finding Dory was announced and was given a release date. So we assumed the Unkrich film would come after the highly-anticipated sequel. But a switcheroo occurred, which left last year Pixar-less in terms of feature films. Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur, Finding Dory... So we assumed the next one would be 'Day of the Dead'. Nope, last November the following slot (6/16/2017) went to Toy Story 4.

So now we currently have two slots left: 11/22/2017 and 6/15/2018. The film still doesn't have a title or a release date, and again. All we know is that it's still in the works, and that's a relief.

Some were concerned because Reel FX unleashed the Day of the Dead-flavored animated musical The Book of Life this past autumn, and many assumed that maybe Pixar put Unkrich's project on the shelf. But I always doubted that, even before last December's announcement, and I never bought the idea that Pixar canceled Newt because it was too similar to Blue Sky's Rio in terms of the plot. More than anything, Newt went the way of the quagga because it just wasn't working as a story, and it was confirmed last year that they gave it to Pete Docter after original director Gary Rydstrom was removed from the project. Docter said he would "do" the film, but pitched Inside Out, wanting to do that instead. Then the amphibian was gone...

Also consider, A Bug's Life was still made despite PDI/DreamWorks' Antz. Whoever conceived a bug animated movie first, Pixar kept working on the bug flick. Aardman's rat movie, before it was titled Flushed Away, didn't stop the company from going forward with Ratatouille.

It's refreshing to know that it's still on the docket... But also... It might be... A musical!

That's right, a musical. A genre that Pixar hasn't tackled for a feature film, even though they have been making feature films for over 20 years. Before this summer's Inside Out, we're getting our first Pixar musical in the form of the short film Lava. When they announced that the short would be a musical, I immediately wondered, "Does this mean Pixar will make a feature-length musical?"

It looks like that might be the case after all...

Randy Newman recently spoke with UK podcast Classic FM about working on Toy Story 3, why he had difficulties with the film, and what Unkrich is doing next:

"And not only that, Lee Unkrich had Toy Story 3 temped with my music and it was limiting to me. And It was fine, the movie did great and everything and maybe I’m wrong and if I look back on it I won’t know the difference, but it didn’t fit hand in glove the way I would have tried to do. And he fell in love with the temp, very much so. Now he’s not going to use me to work with him again. He’s doing a musical now."

There you have it, Mr. Newman spilled the beans. However, it could very well be untrue...

If true, this is big news... Pixar making a full-blown musical animated feature. It's about time I say. When Pixar was working on the first Toy Story, John Lasseter and the crew were adamant that the film wouldn't be like the then-current Disney Renaissance films. They didn't want musical numbers or "I Want" stories or silly wisecracking sidekicks, no big bad evil villains either. (Can people stop calling Sid a villain? He's just a kid who likes to make weird things out of his toys.) They wanted something different.

Toy Story was fresh and exciting when it hit in 1995. Pixar continued to work their magic, even if a good chunk of their films starred mismatched buddies. The stories, however, were all different. Monsters, Inc. is certainly not the same film as Finding Nemo, and they both differ from Ratatouille, and so on. I can't really say the same about a majority of the 90s Disney films. Most of those films are pretty much the same: Good-vs-evil adventure-romance tales with big Broadway songs, silly sidekicks and big epic climaxes.

Currently, Disney Animation has hit a sweet spot. They now make musicals (Tangled, Frozen) and non-musicals (Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6), and I'd say they're pretty successful at doing that... And to say nothing of Frozen...

Frozen probably kicked the door open for more animated musicals. Before it was even released, DreamWorks had some musicals in development such as Monkeys of Mumbai, Trolls, and Larrikins. After Frozen made it big, Illumination announced an animated musical that they intend to release in December 2016. I wouldn't be surprised if Blue Sky, Warner Animation, and others start announcing that they are working on musicals.

Pixar is finally joining the ranks. The closest things we got to musical numbers in Pixar's filmography were Monsters, Inc.'s outtake bonus 'Put That Thing Back Where It Came From' and the very short, jaunty 'Song of Mor'du' from Brave. That latter is a fine ditty and all, but I'm sure Pixar's musical numbers would be quite epic. As much as I rag on the 90s Disney films, I can't help but feel excited when a good musical number fires up in one of those films. Sure, I can do without some songs from the era ('A Girl Worth Fighting For', 'Trashin' the Camp'), but the good ones always get me pumped. Now to see Pixar do musical numbers... That would be something!

When will it come out? That's the bigger question. I highly doubt it'll be the 11/22/2017 release, because the Day of the Dead holiday occurs from October 31st to November 2nd. That would be like releasing a Christmas film in January or February. A 6/15/2018 release is possible, but I still think that Pixar would want to release this near Halloween/Day of the Dead. Maybe the domestic market will get it in summer 2018, and Mexico will get it in October 2018. Or, or... Pixar will lock a late September/October date in 2018, since the slate currently ends at June 2018. Hey, Pixar is releasing two films this year and in 2017. Who says they can't do that in 2018? And why should they be limited to the typical summer (May/June/July) and typical autumn (November/December) slots? Especially when Disney Animation and other animation studios are taking advantage of March and other months?

Who knows, who knows...

What do you think? Do you think Pixar will knock it out of the park with a musical? When do you think it'll be released? Sound off below!

1 comment:

  1. Why woudn't Lee Unkrich work with Randy Newman again? He made an incredible job.