Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Pixar Bit: A Certain Movie Enters Production, Will The Slate Change?

Today comes a rather good-sized announcement from within Emeryville...

Coco, a Day of the Dead-flavored tale currently set to open Thanksgiving week in 2017, has begun animation production. Director Lee Unkrich has confirmed this on Twitter...

This brings up something that has been on my mind for a few weeks. Something regarding Pixar's big slate as it is right now, and a particular title on that slate.

Anyways, it's theory time.

In the world of big screen feature animation, nothing is definite. Slates change, even at last minute.

Pixar's no stranger to that.

Let's go back to summer 2013. The Good Dinosaur got a big presentation at D23, and it was the first presentation from Pixar during their panel. Back then, the order of movies was Good Dinosaur (summer 2014), Inside Out (summer 2015), and then Finding Dory (fall 2015). All three were presented in that order at the expo. But the film's director Bob Peterson wasn't there, his co-director Pete Sohn filling in for him alongside Denise Ream, who we only knew as the producer of Cars 2 back then.

Something was up. Why did Peterson no-show? Why was Ream with Sohn and not then-producer John Walker?

Weeks later, it was reported - and later confirmed - that Peterson left the project, and Walker walked as well. Sohn was named Peterson's replacement as director a year later, but Denise Ream was named new producer very early on. The Good Dinosaur was pushed from its intended 5/30/2014 bow to this past Thanksgiving, pushing Finding Dory to this coming summer. All at the last minute, no less.

That's one good example of many in the world of animation. Sometimes it's not even production issues, sometimes a studio switches at last minute for less drastic reasons...

For a little while, Pixar intended to have Toy Story 4 open 6/16/2017, while Cars 3 lingered with an unspecified release date. On Cars 3, John Lasseter popped a little "it'll come out in 2018 or 2019" comment at an auto show a year ago, and at D23 last summer, Pixar revealed that the game plan was to release Toy Story 4 in summer 2017, then release Cars 3 sometime afterwards. Its poster simply said "Coming Soon"... The D23 presentation began with The Good Dinosaur, then Finding Dory, then Toy Story 4, then Coco. All four films were detailed, as if they were indeed coming out in that exact order. Lasseter and co didn't even mention Cars 3 during said presentation.

Then this past October, Disney rolled out a company-wide slate and said Cars 3 is set to open 6/16/2017 while Toy Story 4 will open 6/15/2018. Pixar's site says the same...

Cars 3's director still hasn't been announced, and when Oh My Disney - basically Disney's BuzzFeed-esque clickbait hub - accidentally said that Monsters University director Dan Scanlon would be helming it, Disney and Pixar were very quick to correct them. Like Lightning McQueen fast. No correction was made for the mention of Brad Bird *actually* directing The Incredibles 2, though.

Also, Coco, Toy Story 4, and The Incredibles 2 - all set to open after Cars 3, the latter of the three having a summer 2019 release date - all have directors attached. All of this makes me wonder...

Does Cars 3 even have a director? Is it going through a prolonged switch right now where a couple of directors are - in a Good Dinosaurian manner - "shepherding sections" of it? Is it a troubled film right now and they're waiting on the right time to tell us who is directing? Finding Dory is right around the corner, and some might be expecting a teaser for the film to show up before it in theaters...

It's either that, or Disney and Pixar feel no need to tell us because Cars isn't a fan-favorite franchise, its fan base being mostly general consumers and kids rather than the film aficionados and geeks who are up to date on things like director changes, release date announcements, and such.

If it is indeed having trouble, maybe Cars 3 and Toy Story 4 should play musical chairs again... But a little differently.

This is where Coco, now officially entering animation production, comes in.

Before I explain, I'll also say that on Twitter, people who work on these films normally give a heads up of when animation production begins on a film. I haven't seen anything for Cars 3, and with what I just went over and Coco surging ahead, I suspect we'll see a swapperoo.

I've yammered it here before many times. Releasing a Day of the Dead-themed film on Thanksgiving? Day of the Dead occurs from October 31st to November 2nd. It may not be a US holiday, but they could still make it seem Halloween-ish with some of the imagery. I'd release that before October 31st, honestly. Also, too close to Star Wars Episode VIII. We don't want another possible Good Dinosaur situation where Disney fails to market the film correctly and Star Wars hurts it.

I suggested mid-October 2017 for the film, and with Pixar looking to release a - currently undetermined - film in March 2020, will they break out of the summer/holiday comfort zone and release a picture in a month like October?

If they can't opt for October, why not...

Release it in the summer, and then give it a bump when Halloween-time comes?

Toy Story 4 can follow in fall 2017 - as the first two Toy Story movies were Thanksgiving releases, and really... the Cars franchise is a summer kind of thing and the more I think about it, the more I think Lasseter really meant it when he said "2018 or 2019". So, Coco first, then Toy Story 4, then Cars 3.

Coco can fare fine in the summer, Toy Story 4 can sure as hell survive Star Wars mania phase two, Cars 3 has more time to stew and could possibly turn out to be a good, if not great film. The Incredibles 2 then follows in summer 2019, then followed by two originals in 2020, whatever they may be.

We shall see. What say you?


  1. Great article. I know this has nothing to do with the subject but are you going to post your thoughts on the new Angry Birds movie trailer that just got released? It's pretty funny and kind of action packed in it's own way.

    1. There's also a new trailer for The Secret Life of Pets!

  2. Replies
    1. coco coming early dosnt sounds bad for me ha ha ha

  3. Here's what I think based on your predictions:

    Finding Dory on 6/17/2016
    Coco on 6/16/2017
    Toy Story 4 on 11/22/2017
    Cars 3 on 6/15/2018
    The Incredibles 2 on 6/21/2019

    I also think that the 2020 spots will be taken by both Newt and the Mark Andrews film. If one gets 3/13/2020, then the other will get 6/19/2020. I had a hard time deciding which one tbh.

    1. Not sure about newt. Last year I taln with an animator of Pixar and when I asked about the reasons of the cancellation of newt he didint remember the movie so its all gone :(

    2. For now, Newt's seemingly a no-go. I'm thinking Dan Scanlon's film is something completely new. Maybe 'Time Flies', if you know what I mean, haha.

  4. Great write up. I still think Cars 3 will stay right where it is. Coco not releasing on the holiday is a non-issue for sure. Just because those are the dates doesn't require it to release then - I mean Christmas specials and movies usually release in November and that's ok. Good thoughts overall though.

    Oh, one final thought on Cars 3, if they did move it back, it would be the first of their films to move up and then move back - that's another reason I think it's staying put.

    1. Thanks for the reply!

      I'm a little confused, forgive me on this... Are you saying 'Coco' opening AFTER Day of the Dead won't matter? Or before, during the summer? If it's the latter, I agree. 'Coco' could fare very well in the summer season, regardless of whether it's a lot earlier than the holiday in question.

      As for 'Cars 3', what do you make of the director not being announced yet? Curious to hear your thoughts on this.

    2. And instead of giving Coco a Labor Day re-release, they could save it for 10/6/2017, let it stay for two weeks (10/20/2017 could be where DreamWorks opens The Croods 2) and then release the Blu-Ray on either Tuesday, 10/24/2017 or Friday, 10/27/2017. That'll be right before Halloween too!