I’ll be honest. Until now, I’ve been pretty uninterested in Luca, the next Pixar film. It’s due to release this June, but we still don’t know much about Enrico Casarosa’s first feature film. That changed dramatically this week with the release of an exclusive preview in Empire magazine. It includes a new screenshot along with some exciting new details surrounding the story, characters, and inspiration for the setting.
I discussed all these new developments and more during the latest live stream of Jon In Theory, which you can view above. Enjoy the stream, and be sure to subscribe and ring the bell so you can watch these videos live. Would love for you to say hello via the live chat!
Pete Docter has directed some of the most widely celebrated films in Pixar’s history. But now he’s saying he’s done directing. I explore his comments, and why this decision might actually be for the best. Especially when it comes to Pixar’s creative and commercial future as an animation studio.
You can find more of my live streams on my YouTube channel, Jon In Theory. Be sure to subscribe and ring the bell so you can join the live chat. If you missed the stream, please leave any comments you want me to address on a different day. And if you have any topics or questions you want me to cover, let me know when you know. Ya know?
Yesterday, I did a longer stream covering some of the critical backlash to Soul, which you can check out here. And toward the end, someone in the live chat asked me if I think 22 (voiced by Tina Fey in Soul) might’ve become Riley from Inside Out after being born. So today I decided to devote a full live stream to covering this theory, which apparently debuted on Reddit and/or Twitter. I cover some of the arguments being made for the theory, and then dive into the reasons I think this one just doesn’t work at all. Plus, some positive speculation on who 22 could reasonably be tied to down the road.
Toward the end of the stream, I lightly touch on some early thoughts I have about how Soul fits into the overall theory. Plus, I go over the three “types” of fan theories that are out there. Hope you all enjoy this one.
I went live on my channel, Jon In Theory, to talk about my next book, the updated version of “The Pixar Theory.” As you can hopefully see from the thumbnail, I also reveal the cover of the book and discuss a rough timetable for when you can get your hands on a copy.
A lot of you have reached out about trying to get a copy of the original book, but as I explain in the video, it is currently out of print. I’m working as hard as I can to get this new version of the book completed and published in due time. So if you’re interested in pre-ordering your copy, please message me or comment below, as I am keeping track of all the requests.
Thanks for your patience, everyone. I’m excited to finally get this new book out into the world.
Yup, I’m doing live streams, now. Be sure to check them out so you can join the live chat and leave me some constructive feedback! I had a blast talking about Soul on here, mainly how critics are reacting and my overall review of the film.
I should’ve known Pixar had a few hidden tricks up their sleeve for this one. We’ve known for some time that Onward centers around two elvish brothers on a quest to find some trace of magic left in the world connected to their deceased father, which is a relic of an idea that traces back to director Dan Scanlon’s real life experience of finding an old object containing a memory of his own dad.
Now, we see this “quest” has a few curveballs, as shown in the trailer. Looks like the “magic” object is a staff, and there are some cartoony rules that dictate how and when their dad can actually come back to life. So it’s a blend of Brave and Coco in that respect.
At first glance, this familiarity worries me. How many times have we seen kids in Pixar movies trying to beat a deadline to save their parent, or the other way around? It’s well-worn plotting at this point for the studio, but this is a unique enough setting to keep me interested, plus the two main characters (voiced by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland) have no shortage of charm and chemistry to make this one a proper Pixar feels trip.
The “modern mythological” setting is still a blast to discover and learn new details about, including the gag of pixie bikers harassing the dad corpse. Speaking of which, said corpse is a fun nod to Weekend at Bernie’s, which is one of many references to 80s pop culture in the movie we can connect back to Scanlon’s work on Monsters University. There’s a reason that “Quests of Yore” spell book closely resembles a Dungeons and Dragons manual, which for me is just brilliant world building.
The look, feel, and energy of this movie is just so Monsters University, down to the humor itself. As a lot of you know, I absolutely adore that film despite its baggage as a prequel, so this familiar tone only boosts my expectations for a road trip movie with enough twists and turns to make the latest original story from Pixar a positive step forward for their brand.
Pixar Theory stuff:
The voiceover narration says that “in times of old, the world was filled with wonder and magic.” This might squash any early speculation that Onward takes place in the future, post Monsters Inc., but all that said, it’s hard not to notice a lot of similarity in design between some of these characters and “Monsters.” One era Pixar has never really covered is the long stretch of time between WALL-E and Monsters Inc., so take that as you will.
The “Visitation Spell” sounds pretty similar to the rules ofhow the dead can visit the living for “one day” in Coco. And we see the same sort of thing in Brave with how the “wisps” are implied to be spirits of dead ancestors.
At minute 1:29, you can just barely spot an ad in the gas station referencing Poultry Palace, a fast food restaurant seen in Toy Story4 and the Toy Story short “Small Fry.”
In the gas station scene that follows, you can clearly see “Triple Dent Gum” being held by the pixie uttering “you got a problem, Shades?” This particular gum brand traces back to Inside Out, of course. Don’t act like you forgot the theme song…
At minute 1:38, you can see a formation of rocks that resemble not just Stonehenge, but the rock formation where Merida encounters the wisps for the second time in Brave.
The tavern is full of creatures that resemble monsters, as noted before. Worth considering if this movie shows us an early inception of how the monsters came to be, but it’s hard to square that sort of assumption with the movie’s established vibe of European folklore. Plus, we would have to explain those two moons, and writing it off as some sort of alternative universe just seems boring to me.
Did I miss anything? Of course I did. Let me know what stuck out to you in this trailer by commenting below.
It’s been nearly 16 weeks since Toy Story 4 opened in theaters, and though the Pixar fourquel is still playing in a handful of second run theaters nationwide, its box office destiny is more or less set in stone, especially with the film now available to rent on demand.
How did Woody and the gang do? As I noted in the weeks following the film’s release, Toy Story 4 fell a bit under expectations for a Pixar sequel when compared to the opening weekends for Finding Dory and Incredibles 2. Nevertheless, it had a strong summer in light of few other animated family films coming out to play.
The results speak for themselves. Toy Story 4 made $1.068 billion worldwide, which is just $2 million higher than Toy Story 3 earned in 2010 (unadjusted for inflation). It’s now the second highest grossing Pixar film of all time behind Incredibles 2.
When you do adjust for inflation, however, the results are murkier. It’s not an exact science but films like Finding Nemo and Toy Story 3 easily breeze past Toy Story 4 despite having smaller releases worldwide.
Domestically, these numbers are similarly salt-graining. Adjusted for inflation, Toy Story 4 (which has made $433.3 million) is only the fifth highest grossing Pixar film in North America behind Toy Story 3, Finding Dory, Finding Nemo, and Incredibles 2 at #1. It’s also worth pointing out that Toy Story 4 wasn’t even the highest grossing animated film of the summer, because The Lion King ended up grossing $1.6 billion (which makes it the highest grossing animated film of all time).
Now this may all seem like silly numbers to parse out. Who cares if Toy Story 4 wasn’t the best box office success of all time? Beyond general curiosity, I find these numbers incredibly important, because they signal a limitation for these Pixar sequels. They’re still successful, don’t get me wrong, but Disney and Pixar have to see what is clear and obvious.
They can’t keep banking on films like Incredibles 2 and Finding Dory to be massive, billion dollar films with more sequels churning out, and the studio has to reaffirm their commitment to original films in the coming years. We already know the studio has seen this coming as an inevitability, because their next four films are, in fact, originals. That fresh intellectual property will prevent Pixar’s roster from growing stale with what feel like cash grabs, even though Toy Story 4 was a well-received film by and large.
But Toy Story 4 feels like the minor dip pointing to a larger trend. Because it didn’t outgross the last major Pixar franchise sequel (with a decade or longer wait in between), Disney and Pixar have no choice but to double down on bolder, richer films based on new stories. The kind that made this studio a trusted, household name in the first place.