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Snarcasm: A Bug’s Life vs. Antz vs. the Rest of Us

bugs life

It’s been 20 years since 1998, and you know what that means! Blog posts about films from 20 years ago / 1998!

And there are some great stories to pick from. Eight-year-old Jon Negroni was too busy stuffing his face with Warheads (the candy, dummy) on multiple schoolyard dares, so he/me didn’t get a chance to litigate the Antz vs. A Bug’s Life debate, unless you count my Hopper alarm clock as a stake in what is obviously a very petty fight between DreamWorks and Pixar that has never officially ended.

That’s where Bill Bradley comes in, writing for Huffpost Culture, and aside from having a name that would make Lois Lane blush, BB has the serious press credentials necessary to remind you why it’s pointless arguing about two movies that are barely similar where it counts, but similar enough where it generates heated arguments based on grudges that don’t really affect you in real life. So, the internet, basically.

Go on…Snarcasm: A Bug’s Life vs. Antz vs. the Rest of Us

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Every Pixar Film Ranked By Their Box Office Success

pixar movies

From Toy Story to Finding Dory, which Pixar movies found the most financial success with audiences? 

A few years ago, I did a ranking just like this in the year leading up to Inside Out. It was simple: I took the worldwide box office returns for each Pixar movie and adjusted for inflation, though I measured the numbers according current rates of inflation (2014 at the time). A faulty metric, now that I take a second look.

Honestly, it’s hard to rank these movies on the same playing field, because so many circumstances determined their profits. 3D ticket sales and a widening international market make it harder to define which Pixar movies were more “successful” than others based on their own terms and fair context.

So this time, I’m only looking at two factors: domestic box office and a rate of inflation with 1995, the year that Toy Story came out. So all of the numbers you’re about to see bolded are NOT the actual numbers you’ll find online, but rather they’ve been modified to match what they were worth 22 years ago. UPDATE: I’ve since added Cars 3 and Coco to this list. 

Let’s start at the bottom of the list this time with…

Go on…Every Pixar Film Ranked By Their Box Office Success

Snarcasm: The Cars in ‘Cars’ Aren’t Really Cars. Obviously.

cars

Snark + Sarcasm = what you’re about to read

I’ve always liked MatPat’s “The Film Theorists” videos, because they’re entertaining, fun, and have a great energy. For that reason, I don’t usually criticize their theories, but that’s all about to change.

One of MatPat’s latest videos involves Cars, and it directly calls out my timeline for Pixar movies, assuming they all share the same universe. This was embarrassing on my end because Mat worked off of old Pixar Theory material without fully researching how it’s changed over the years, so his new theory about Cars is…well…let’s just say it could use some Snarcasm.

Oh, and here’s an important note. If you want to check out the better version of this “cars are alive” theory, check out the video SuperCarlinBros already did for it seven months ago…which MatPat doesn’t reference at all or give credit to in his video. And…well, he should have.

The Cars in the Cars Movie AREN’T CARS!

I don’t know if I’m ready for this.

Are the Cars in Cars really cars?

{Raises hand}

I mean sure, it’s the title of the movie.

[Raises hand more}

and they look and behave like cars

{hand floats away}

I mean they have eyes and tongues

Right. So there’s no way they’re cars with eyes and tongues. Eh, yeah that’s weird, but we’ll get to that.

How does a society of cars come to be in the first place?

Well, the Pixar Theory states that—

What are these creatures? I am 100% confident I figured it out.

Like I was saying. I outlined all of this in my book about how—

what started as a simple, stupid question led me down the rabbit hole of this bizarre car-themed universe, and the answers I found will upend everything you thought you knew about Mater and the gang.

Mat then cuts to an image of my Pixar Theory Timeline. Well, the old one at least. See when this video first came out, a lot of people asked me what I thought, and I felt guilty for not updating the timeline since I did the book, which is a small reason why Mat ends up working off of old information (we’ll get to that).

See, the theory itself was certainly at its most plot-holey when I did the first draft of the timeline in 2013. I haven’t even updated it with the newer movies. To rectify this, there’s a new timeline in place of the old one, but as you can tell, the damage is done.

and the details I find here pose some interesting questions about that infamous Pixar Theory

Infamous?

a theory that you all have wanted me to cover for quite a long time

Spoiler alert: MatPat is working on his own “mega” Pixar Theory. Well…bring it on?

it probably merits taking a second to acquaint you with that Pixar Theory. A theory that started with, as far as I can tell, online movie blogger Jon Negroni.

Hey.

which aims to unite all the Pixar movies to not just the same universe, but also come up with a cohesive timeline of events where one movie leads to the next, leads to the next.

Mat shows an image of the actual blog post for the theory itself, which begins by telling you that the theory has been updated. So why didn’t Mat “start up his search engines” then?

He does go on to talk about how he won’t be getting into the “nitty gritty” of the theory, but offers an example of how Buy n Large plays into multiple movies.

now the reason I wanted to start talking about this today is because I have a few problems with the Pixar Theory timeline. 

So Mat then goes on to recite some big elements of the theory that, again, are ancient history. And he gets some basic stuff wrong, like this:

that’s why you don’t see humans or animals in either car movie

Except we do, actually. We see the birds from For the Birds (a Pixar short) in the first Cars.

this whole Pixar Theory is an interesting explanation, but there are a lot of assumptions

So why didn’t you research the updated one? And spoiler alert: his entire theory is nothing but assumptions, starting with Mat’s assertion that they aren’t sentient machines brought to life like the toys from Toy Story.

The cars are actually organic creatures. Living creatures with the car body of the top exoskeleton, but containing some sort of internal organs. A soft and squishy inside like the center of a Tootsie Roll pop.

I get it. So Mat took all of the clever revelations SuperCarlinBros already figured out months ago…then made it worse. Neat.

First, they breathe oxygen. 

And they also drink oil. And we see they have engines multiple times in the movie. How does that make them organic?

See, Mat goes on to point out how the cars must be organic because they basically act like humans. They eat “food” and one car wears an underwater “breather” like in spy movies. I contend that they do this because they think they’re the humans who owned them. Multiple Pixar movies point out that human emotion (a la Monsters Inc.) is the source of energy that can bring inanimate objects to life (like in Brave and Toy Story). And in movies like WALL-E, we see that the life of these machines is sustained by interactions with human belongings, like the movie Hello Dolly that WALL-E watches all the time.

I’m sorry I have to keep saying this, but Mat is completely missing this stuff because he didn’t even seem to look for it. And now we have to suffer through what is at best an amusing sideshow full of weird body horror jokes.

Mat then goes on to say that because of a “studio stories” video by Pixar, this is all confirmed in addition to McQueen having the hiccups in a “Tales from Radiator Springs” short. He quickly cuts in and out of a quote that McQueen can’t open his doors because “that’s where his brains are.”

they have a brain! A giant, pink, pulsating brain hidden behind those car windows!

Nope.

This is terribly misleading because Mat leaves out the fact that this same animator was trying to think of ways to make Lightning capable of producing a map to Sally. He mentions that using the doors wouldn’t make sense conceptually because that’s where his “brains” would be. He also proposed that maybe a monkey drove the car and showed the map, and many more examples that are nonsensical.

So none of this comes close to confirming anything about cars having organs. Rather, it’s just an animator discussing the challenges of making the Cars world a believable one that isn’t gross or creepy. That includes avoiding this kind of “brain” implication in the first place.

so it would appear that the cars are actual living creatures and not just some highly advanced driverless cars.

“Appear” is a strong word. If anything, there’s far more evidence that the cars are, in fact highly advanced driverless cars compared to this idea that they’re animals. But Mat ignores all of that inconvenient evidence so he can champion his own theory.

Like I said before. Bring it on.

there’s an actual evolutionary chain present throughout these films. 

Go on.

[In Cars 2] we see birds. Except they’re not actually birds. They’re actually mini planes. 

Oh boy.

In another of the Tales from Radiator Springs animated shorts, you get VW beetle beetles. Tiny cars with insect wings.

Which is why the theory states that the cars work off of an unreliable narrator. Which means that to them, organic creatures on Earth look like cars to them, but elsewhere we see real birds, and we know from WALL-E and A Bug’s Life that birds and insects are still around in this post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Have you noticed that for a Pixar theory about Pixar movies, Mat doesn’t seem to include a lot of the other Pixar movies?

Mat goes on to talk about how the alien stuff from “Mater’s Tall Tales” is totally real rather than…a tall tale. And their tires being independent from their bodies must “prove” his theory rather than support the idea that they are, in fact, machines with tires. Good stuff.

these are living creatures with internal organs that are protected by a car-like exoskeleton.

Did they grow this exoskeleton themselves? And where do their engines (which we see) come from?

and with multiple differentiated animal-like species that have evolved over time from literal boats, planes, and cranes to bug-like and bird-like animals

But The Pixar Theory has too many assumptions? And my main problem with this is that Mat goes into zero detail over how and why machines would suddenly turn into bugs and insects. Or why the personified cars don’t. He just drops that evolution part in and moves on. You know, like in the original Pixar Theory!

In short, when you look at all of this evidence, there is only one possible conclusion:

Mat put as little effort as possible into tackling the Pixar Theory? Because this is just sloppy, and a bit uninspired.

the cars in Cars aren’t really cars at all, but are much more likely a highly evolved form of insect.

Remember kids: “this whole Pixar Theory is an interesting explanation, but there are a lot of assumptions.”

Mat’s entire argument here is that because cars have a metal “skin”, that must mean they’re evolved from insects, which (whoa!) also have an exoskeleton. Ignoring literally everything about science that has ever been known about how insects, you know, have evolved and are composed biologically.

Remember when Mat said, “Oh they have brains! Confirmed!” Well, he even shows diagrams of insects that don’t have brains (or eyes or tongues or teeth) like what he describes, yet that doesn’t matter because this is my life now.

I get it. The Pixar Theory is about having fun, not being scientifically accurate. But this is just weird for the sake of it and not at all informative of what the theory’s really about: telling a grander story behind all of the movies and characters.

the cars aren’t cars! They’re insects!

I mean come on, does anyone else think Mat is just spoofing at this point? He literally has to say “The cars aren’t cars.”

that does some really interesting things for the Pixar Theory

At best, it ruins the Pixar Theory and undermines everything we actually know about the Cars movies.

First and foremost, it removes Cars from the era of humans

Thus making it completely implausible. The point of Cars is that the machines are brought to life through memories of humans. Taking that out to make room for some random insect nonsense adds literally nothing to the theory. It only takes away evidence that brings everything about the machines together for what happens in Monsters Inc.

that sort of evolution is going to take a really long time, so get it away from the WALL-Es, Nemos, and Incredibles of the world.

So then what’s the point? And how would human civilization be what it is in the Cars universe if this was so far in the future? Where are the monsters? Why are the cars remembering events from the 20th Century, like the Piston Cup? If they’re so far removed from the Pixar timeline, why even suggest that the timeline is even purposeful?

but surprisingly enough, we do happen to have one film in Pixar’s lineup that does follow super intelligent bugs in their quest for survival

What about the birds? If we’re bringing A Bug’s Life into this, then you also have to point out that the birds are primal and “dumb” compared to the insects.

in a world where there are remnants of human society but you see no humans present

But we do know they’re still around because one insect had his wings clipped by a kid.

what I propose to you is that Cars isn’t so much its own entity, but rather A Bug’s Life 2, 3, and coming up on 4. The natural progression of insects evolving and taking over the planet Earth. 

So insects naturally evolve…into cars? That explains the millions of years established by the Pixar timeline (starting with Good Dinosaur) where they, you know, didn’t evolve into cars. But don’t worry, because all of these theory holes will be solved (maybe!) next time.

and with that we have the first puzzle pieces in place as we all start to build our own Film Theorists approved mega Pixar Theory!

Go for it. Seriously. These are your movies too. Just don’t be surprised when the Snarcasm rolls around, because if you’re going to build off of my initial ideas and timeline without fully looking into them for your own purposes, plus rip off another YouTuber’s theories without giving them any credit for it, then this is a Pixar Theory war. 


Thanks for reading this. Seriously. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. 

Or just say hello on Twitter: @JonNegroni


Ranking the Pixar Movies By Box Office Success

Trying to compare the Pixar films according to quality and personal affection is a pointless task, in my opinion. Of course, I could easily tell you what my favorite films are and rank them, but how does that really help anyone?

Everyone has their favorites, but everyone also loves lists and comparisons. So for the sake of this post, I’m pointing out how successful each one was compared to the other. Prepare to be surprised.

To crunch the numbers, I added the domestic and foreign totals to provide the worldwide figures. I also adjusted everything according to inflation in 2014, so you’re really seeing which films made the most value in their day.

I did not rank these in order of profitability, as in I don’t point out how much it cost to make the film versus how much it made. Instead, I kept it simple and only pointed out how much money the film made overall.

Let’s begin!

 

#1. Finding Nemo

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Many assume that Toy Story 3 was the first Pixar film to make over $1 billion worldwide, and they’re technically right. In 2003, Finding Nemo just barely came short of the billion mark with $936 million made worldwide. But when you adjust for inflation, the underwater animated film actually made $1.2 billion worldwide, easily surpassing the threequel.

Why? This is pretty impressive considering the fact that Finding Nemo had fewer advantages than more recent Pixar films. This was before foreign markets were becoming the brunt of Disney Pixar’s audience. In fact, I’d argue that it opened the floodgates to how well U.S. films can perform overseas.

Put simply, Finding Nemo benefitted from having extremely wide appeal. While movies about toys, superheroes, and balloon houses are fun concepts, many people of different ages found a reason to check out this film about a father finding his lost son in an endless ocean.

 

#2. Toy Story 3

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: The possibly final entry in the Toy Story franchise is also its most successful. It was the first Pixar film to make $1 billion worldwide ($1.1 billion adjusted for inflation), and unlike Finding Nemo, its gap between money made domestically and foreign is much narrower.

Why? Waiting a decade to finish the franchise was a smart decision on Pixar’s part. Strong word-of-mouth, the return of the original cast, and an emotionally wrenching premise made this a can’t-miss film for the countless people who fell in love with Toy Story over the course of 15 years.

 

#3. Up

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: It didn’t just collect Oscars. Up pulled in an impressive $731 million worldwide. Adjusted from 2009, that’s over $812 million.

Why? The film had broad international appeal thanks to its setting, and it came at a time when Pixar was hitting its stride with back-to-back hits. It also benefitted from a strong opening that had critics raving over the score and memorable characters. That, and this was also the first Pixar film to reap the benefits of 3D ticket prices.

 

#4. The Incredibles

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Following the success of Finding Nemo was an impossible task, so leave it to the superhero film to accomplish just that. The Incredibles made a whopping $631.million worldwide in 2004, which is actually $795.8 million by today’s standards.

Why? One of the main advantages of mashing up several genres like superheroes, family drama, comedy, animation, and spies is that you can generate a ton of interest in your movie. Families and young adults came out to this film in droves, and it didn’t hurt that audiences were still enamored with the success of Finding Nemo.

 

#5. Monsters University

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: This 2013 prequel to Monsters Inc. narrowly surpassed its predecessor by raking in $743.5 million worldwide ($760 million adjusted for inflation). It’s important to note that it made the bulk of its money overseas, like many of the recent Pixar films.

Why? As a rule, sequels and even prequels tend to build upon existing audiences, no matter the downgrade in quality. Plus, the film was quite enjoyable and a step up from Pixar’s previous outings (Cars 2 and Brave).

 

#6. Monsters Inc.

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: This is the Pixar film that showed critics just what the studio was capable of, as it was the first of the films to spike in profit. The 2001 film made an impressive $562.8 million worldwide ($756.4 adjusted), with an almost even split between domestic and foreign markets.

Why? This film came out after a 1-year hiatus for Pixar, and it had been three years since the studio had released a non-sequel. Thanks to Monsters Inc., the momentum for Pixar as it entered the 21st century was set early, and high.

 

#7. Ratatouille

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Only Pixar can make a film about a rat learning to cook in Paris a huge success with over $623 million made globally ($716.7 million adjusted).

Why? Foreign markets definitely carried this film, representing about 2/3 of the profits. Also, audiences who were displeased with Cars were happy to see a Pixar film with more traditional storytelling (even though it was anything but).

 

#8. Toy Story 2

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: That’s right, one of Disney’s first forays into a sequel (they’re notorious for not doing big screen sequels at all) was a Pixar film. And it totally paid off. Toy Story 2 ran away with $485 million worldwide. These days, that’s nearly $700 million. Keep in mind that this was in 1999; a time when the box office competition was fierce.

Why? As we now know, the film was just as good if not better than the original, and that prompted millions of people who loved the first film to go see this one. And it helped that VHS sales build a lot of hype for this film four years after the original. The lesson, of course, is that there should be a lot of time in between sequels for the sake of direction and precision. Not many people have learned this lesson, sadly.

#9. Cars 2

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Pixar’s follow-up to the record-breaking Toy Story 3 was yet another sequel. And they suffered for it. Cars 2  brought in about $559 million worldwide, or $593 million adjusted for inflation. A little more than half of what Pixar made the previous year.

Why? Some are wondering why it made so much when it shouldn’t. Others may be wondering why it didn’t make as much. Both questions are answered by the fact that the film was both helped and hurt by its predecessor, Cars. Yes, it had plenty of interest from fans of the original, but the problem was that there weren’t that many fans anyway. But it still made good money, especially overseas. This was partly due to the various locales seen in the film and Disney’s expertise at managing foreign markets by 2011.

 

#10. WALL-E

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: This may surprise a lot of you, but WALL-E only brought in $521 million worldwide. Adjusted for this year, that’s only about $576.8 million.

Why? Oddly, this is celebrated as one of Pixar’s best films, both by audiences and critics. And yet it is one of the least successful. Sadly, this is mostly because the film came out during the onset of Great Recession, which badly hurt money made domestically. On top of that, many moviegoers were put off by the film’s lack of dialogue, especially in the early parts of the film.

 

#11. Toy Story

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: The first of the Pixar films performed pretty well for a forerunner. It made $362 million worldwide, with most of that money being domestic. Nowadays, that translates to about $566 million, which is nothing to scoff at.

Why? Unlike its successors, Toy Story didn’t have the luxury of Pixar being a household name. It earned its success solely from being a good film and shattering expectations as the first computer-animated film ever. In fact, I’m more surprised that this isn’t lower on the list considering the risk that was put into making it. Toy Story truly is a miracle of film.

 

#12. Brave

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Still hurting from the disappointment that was Cars 2, this 2012 film also disappointed with a meager $539 million worldwide total ($559 million adjusted). That’s still pretty good, though it is certainly low compared to the rest of the Pixar family.

Why? Entire research papers could be written about the mystery surrounding Brave‘s underwhelming premise. I’m not sure I fully understand why it fell short for me, personally. Whatever the reason, Brave just didn’t click or resonate with people as deeply as previous Pixar films, which made this an animated outing for only a certain group of moviegoers (kids and their parents looking for a getaway).

 

#13. Cars

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Released in 2006, Cars didn’t really deliver for Pixar as much as they hoped with a decent $462 million worldwide ($546 million adjusted). Of course, it was still incredibly profitable for Pixar, seeing as it only cost $120 million to make.

Why? You know a film has problems when it falls so short after two massive hits like Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. It even had the benefit of coming along after a 1-year hiatus. Still, audiences weren’t impressed with the premise, and Cars ultimately suffered. Strangely, the sequel was still green-lit and made a bit more money years later.

 

#14. A Bug’s Life

ranking  the pixar movies

How much it made: Pixar’s second film was great in its own right, even though that didn’t necessarily translate to box office sales. It made just $363 million worldwide, which is about $530.5 million adjusted for inflation. Interestingly, it made more money overseas than Toy Story did, and it was the first of the Pixar films to make most of its money in foreign markets.

Why? Put simply, the novelty of computer animation had worn off a bit. So A Bug’s Life had to rely on just being a good movie. That’s why it made as much as it did, but the basic fact is that a film about toys coming to life was more appealing than a film about bugs fighting grasshoppers.

 

Conclusions:

One of the most interesting things about this list is that even the lowest entry of Pixar’s films is a box office success that stands up to most of the films that are coming out today. That means in 14 films over the course of 19 years, Pixar hasn’t had a single flop. No other studio in history can compare to that kind of consistent success.

In the years to come, we’ll see if Pixar can maintain the status quo or make another huge leap forward. Inside Out premieres next summer, and it could prove to be the next Monsters Inc. in terms of reviving the studio’s creative fortunes. And with new sequels like Finding Dory and The Incredibles 2 on the horizon, along with some other originals like The Good Dinosaur, Pixar may be poised for its first renaissance.

ranking  the pixar movies

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The Pixar Theory

pixar theory

Every Pixar movie is connected. I explain how, and possibly why.

In 2012, I watched a video on Cracked.com that introduced the idea (at least to me) that all of the Pixar movies actually exist within the same universe. Since then, I’ve obsessed over this concept, working to complete what I call The Pixar Theory, a working narrative that ties all of the Pixar movies into one cohesive timeline with a main theme. Another, longer, title is “The Grand Unifying Theory of Pixar Movies.”

This theory covers every feature-length movie made by Pixar Animation Studios since 1995. They include:

  • Toy Story
  • A Bug’s Life
  • Toy Story 2
  • Monsters Inc.
  • Finding Nemo
  • The Incredibles
  • Cars
  • Ratatouille
  • Wall-E
  • Up
  • Toy Story 3
  • Cars 2
  • Brave
  • Monsters University
  • Inside Out (in Part 2)
  • The Good Dinosaur (in Part 3)
  • Finding Dory (in Part 4)
  • Cars 3, Coco, Incredibles 2, and Toy Story 4 will be included in the upcoming book

The point of this theory is to have fun and exercise your imagination while simultaneously finding interesting connections between these fantastic movies. The trick is not take any of it too seriously. If you would like to experience a shorter version of this theory, check out the visualized Pixar Theory Timeline. 

In fact, I highly suggest you watch this video I made with Screen Junkies/Fandom below. It more thoroughly lays out this theory and its most complex ideas. It’s also a far more “current” version of the theory compared to the rest of this post. Plus, it has more movies included! Enjoy.

The original Pixar Theory:

As of this writing in 2013, Brave is the first and last movie in the timeline. Obviously, this movie about a Scottish kingdom during the Dark Ages is the earliest time period covered by the Pixar films, but it’s also the only Pixar movie that actually explains why animals in the Pixar universe behave like humans sometimes.

Pixar Theory

In Brave, Merida discovers that there is “magic” that can solve her problems but inadvertently turns her mother into a bear. We find out that this magic comes from an odd witch seemingly connected to the mysterious will-of-the-wisps. Not only do we see animals behaving like humans, but we also see brooms (inanimate objects) behaving like people in the witch’s shop.

We also learn that this witch inexplicably disappears every time she passes through doors, leading us to believe that she may not even exist. Don’t get ahead of me, but we’ll come back to Brave. Let’s just say that for now, the witch is someone we know from a different movie in the timeline.

Pixar Theory

[Some of you have pointed out that the animals in Brave gradually regress back into an animal state, disproving the idea that this is the source of animals acting like humans. My rebuttal is simple. They regress because the magic wears off. Over time, their evolving intelligence grows naturally.]

Centuries later, the animals from Brave that have been experimented on by the witch have interbred, creating a large-scale population of animals slowly gaining personification and intelligence on their own.

There are two progressions: the progression of the animals and the progression of artificial intelligence. The events of the following movies set up a power struggle between humans, animals, and machines.

The stage for all-out war in regards to animals is set by Ratatouille, Finding Nemo, and Up, in that order. Notice I left out A Bug’s Life, but I’ll explain why later.

In Ratatouille, we see animals experimenting with their growing personification in small, controlled experiments.

Pixar Theory

Remy wants to cook, which is something only humans explicitly do. He crafts a relationship with a small group of humans and finds success. Meanwhile, the villain of Ratatouille, Chef Skinner, disappears. What happened to him? What did he do with his newfound knowledge that animals were capable of transcending their instincts and performing duties better than humans?

It’s possible that Charles Muntz, the antagonist of Up, learned of this startling rumor, giving him the idea to begin inventing devices that would harness the thoughts of animals, namely his dogs, through translator collars. Those collars indicated to Muntz that animals are smarter and more like humans than we think. He needed this technology to find the exotic bird he’s obsessed over, and he even comments on how many dogs he’s lost since he arrived in South America.

Pixar Theory

But then Dug and the rest of his experiments are set free after Muntz’s demise, and we don’t know the full implications of that, but what we do know is that animosity between the animals and humans is growing steadily. Now that humans have discovered the potential of animals, they are beginning to cross the line. To develop this new technology, the humans begin an industrial revolution hinted at in Up.

[Some have pointed out that Muntz was working in South America before the events of Ratatouille. This is true, but it is not explicitly stated how and when he developed the collars. Also, we know Ratatouille takes place before Up for several reasons. In Toy Story 3, a postcard on Andy’s wall has Carl and Ellie’s name and address on it (including their last names to confirm). This confirms that in 2010, the time of Toy Story 3, Ellie is still alive or hasn’t been dead long. This supports the idea that Up takes place years later.]

Pixar Theory

In the beginning of Up, Carl is forced to give up his house to a corporation because they are expanding the city.

Wait a second. What corporation is guilty for polluting the earth and wiping out life in the distant future because of technological overreach?

Pixar Theory

Buy-n-Large (BNL), a corporation that runs just about everything by the time we get to Wall-E. In the“History of BNL” commercial from the movie, we’re told that BNL has even taken over the world governments. Did you catch that this one corporation achieved global dominance? Interestingly, this is the same organization alluded to in Toy Story 3:

Pixar Theory

In Finding Nemo, we have an entire population of sea creatures uniting to save a fish that was captured by humans. BNL shows up again in this universe via another news article that talks about a beautiful underwater world.

Lines are being crossed. Humans are beginning to antagonize the increasingly networked and intelligent animals.

Think about Dory from Finding Nemo for a second. She stands apart from most of the other fish. Why? She isn’t as intelligent. Her short-term memory loss is likely a result of her not being as advanced as the other sea creatures, which is a reasonable explanation for how rapidly these creatures are evolving.

Pixar Theory

It’s likely that the sequel to Finding Nemo, which is about Dory, will touch on this and further explain why. We may also get some more evidence pointing to animosity between humans and animals.

[Some great users have pointed out that Dory is actually more intelligent and shows signs of growth due to her ability to read and communicate with whales. This would actually show signs of how the animals are beginning to change in intelligence gradually.]

And that is the furthest movie in the “animal” side of things. When it comes to A.I., we start with The Incredibles. Who is the main villain of this movie? You probably thought of Buddy, a.ka. Syndrome, who basically commits genocide on super-powered humans.

Pixar Theory

Or does he? Buddy didn’t have any powers. He used technology to enact revenge on Mr. Incredible for not taking him seriously. Seems a little odd that the man went so far as to commit genocide.

[A lot of people have been arguing about where The Incredibles actually takes place because we see technology from modern times and the 1980s even though everything has a 1960s vibe. This is cleared by Brad Bird, the director, who says the movie takes place in an alternate 1960s, which means the movie opens in the 1950s.]

And how does he kill all of the supers? He creates the omnidroid, an A.I. “killbot” that learns the moves of every super-human and adapts. When Mr. Incredible is first told about this machine, Mirage mentions that it is an advanced artificial intelligence that has gone rogue.

Mr. Incredible points out that it got smart enough to wonder why it had to take orders.  The omnidroid eventually turns on Syndrome, and starts attacking humans in the city. Why would an A.I. want to just attack randomly? Do machines have an inherent hatred of humans?

The movie even shows clips of the superheroes with capes being done in by inanimate objects, such as plane turbines…accidentally.

Pixar Theory

Pixar Theory

But why would machines want to get rid of humans in the first place? We know that animals don’t like humans because they are polluting the Earth and experimenting on them, but why would the machines have an issue?

Enter Toy Story. Here we see humans using and discarding “objects” that are clearly sentient. Yes, the toys love it Uncle Tom style, but over the course of the Toy Story sequels, we see toys becoming fed up. But wait, toys and inanimate objects aren’t necessarily machines, so how do they have some kind of intelligence?

Syndrome points to the answer. He tells Mr. Incredible that his lasers are powered by Zero Point Energy. This is the electromagnetic energy that exists in a vacuum. It’s the unseen energy we find in wavelengths and a reasonable explanation for how toys and objects in the Pixar world draw power.

Pixar Theory

By the events of the Toy Story movies, we are in the 90s until 2010. It’s been 40-50 years or so since the events of The Incredibles, giving A.I. plenty of time to develop BNL.

Meanwhile, Pixar is hinting at dissatisfaction among pockets of toy civilizations. The toys rise up against Sid in the first movie. Jesse resents her owner, Emily, for abandoning her. Lotso Huggin’ Bear straight up hates humans by the third movie.

Toys are obviously not satisfied with the status quo, providing a reason for why machines and objects alike are ready to take over.

So, by the 2000s, the super-humans are all but gone, and mankind is vulnerable. Animals, who want to rise up Planet of the Apes style, have the ability to take over, but we don’t see this happen.

Also, A.I. never takes over humans by force. Why do you think that is? It’s reasonable to assume that machines did take over, just not as we expected. The machines used BNL, a faceless corporation (which are basically faceless in nature) to dominate the world, starting in the 1960s after the Omnidroid fails to defeat the Incredibles.

In each of the Toy Story movies, it’s made painfully clear that sentient objects rely on humans for everything. For fulfillment and even energy. It’s hinted at that the Toys lose all life when put away in “storage” unless they are in a museum that will get them seen by humans.

Pixar Theory

So machines decide to control humans by using a corporation that suits their every need, leading to an industrial revolution that eventually leads to…pollution. When the animals rise up against the humans to stop them from polluting the earth, who will save them? The machines.

We know that the machines will win the war, too, because after this war, there are almost no animals left on Earth. Who’s left?

Pixar Theory

Because the machines tip everything out of balance, Earth becomes an unfit planet for humans and animals, so the remaining humans are put on Axiom (or Noah’s Ark if you want to carry on the Biblical theme where Wall-E is basically Robot Jesus and his love interest is aptly named Eve) as a last-ditch effort to save the human race.

Pixar Theory

On Axiom, the humans have no purpose aside from having their needs met by the machines. The machines have made humans dependent on them for everything because that is how they were treated as “toys.” It’s all they know.

Pixar Theory

Meanwhile on Earth, machines are left behind to populate the world and run things, explaining human landmarks and traditions still being prominent in Cars. There are no animals or humans in this version of Earth because they’re all gone, but we do know that the planet still has many human influences left.

[Some have noted that the world of Cars can’t be after humans left because there’s no pollution shown in the movies. If you look carefully at Wall-E, however, the world is never shown during this time, so we don’t really know how badly the Earth was polluted.]

[It’s possible that the machines sent humans away to curb overpopulation and fix the environment without them, but the world was drained of resources as a result of machines populating the Earth. That would explain why the machines abandoned Earth entirely, leaving only Wall-E behind.]

In Cars 2, the cars go to Europe and Japan, making it plain that this is all taking place on Earth as we know it. So what happened to the cars? We’ve learned by now that humans are the source of energy for the machines. That’s why they never got rid of them.

In Wall-E, they point out that BNL intended to bring the humans back once the planet was clean again, but they failed. The machines on Earth eventually died out, though we don’t know how.

Pixar Theory

What we do know is that there is an energy crisis in Cars 2, with oil being the only way society trudges on despite its dangers. We even learn that the Allinol corporation was using “green energy” as a catalyst for a fuel war in order to turn cars away from alternative energy sources. That “clean” fuel could have been used to wipe out many of the cars, very quickly.

Pixar Theory

[Someone pointed out that “all in all” means the same thing as “by and large” making the connection between Cars and Wall-E even more substantial.]

Which brings us back to Wall-E. Have you ever wondered why Wall-E was the only machine left? We know that the movie begins 800 years after humans have left Earth on Axiom, governed by the AutoPilot (another A.I. reference).

Could it be that Wall-E’s fascination with human culture and friendship with a cockroach is what allowed him to keep finding fulfillment and the ability to maintain his personality? That’s why he was special and liberated the humans.

He remembered the times when humans and machines lived in peace, away from all of the pollution caused by both sides.

Pixar Theory

After Wall-E liberates the humans and they rebuild society back on Earth, what happens then? During the end credits of Wall-E, we see the shoe that contains the last of plant life. It grows into a mighty tree. A tree that strikingly resembles the central tree in A Bug’s Life.

Pixar Theory

Pixar Theory

Pixar Theory

That’s right. The reason no humans show up in A Bug’s Life is because there aren’t a lot left. We know because of the cockroach that some of the insects survived, meaning they would have rebounded a bit faster, though the movie had to be far enough in the timeline for birds to have returned as well, though they’re noticeably less intelligent than the bugs.

[I’ll admit, the trees looking similar isn’t enough to support the idea that A Bug’s Life takes place after Wall-E, but there’s definitely more reasons for why it’s likely. Also, I’ll bring the tree up again later because it appears in Up as well.]

There’s something strikingly different about A Bug’s Life when compared to other Pixar portrayals of animals, which leads me to believe it takes place in the future. Unlike Ratatouille, Up, and Finding Nemo, the bugs have many human activities similar to what the rats in Ratatouille were merely experimenting with.

The bugs have cities, bars, advertisements, their own machines, know what a bloody mary is and even have a traveling circus. This all assumes that the movie is in a different time period.

The other factor that sets A Bug’s Life apart from other Pixar movies is the fact that it is the only one, besides Cars and Cars 2, that doesn’t revolve (or even include) humans.

Pixar Theory

[Okay there is a a lot of contention over the idea that A Bug’s Life takes place post-apocalypse, but hear me out. The reason I am so inclined to push the idea is because of how different the bug world is from the “animal” movies. No other Pixar movie has animals wearing clothing, wild inventions, animals creating machines, or so much human influence like bars and cities.]

[In Finding Nemo, the most human thing we see is a school, and even that is pretty stripped down. But in A Bug’s Life, we have a world where humans are barely even implied. At one point, one of the ants tells Flik not to leave the island because there are “snakes, birds, and bigger bugs out there.” He doesn’t even bring up humans.

[Yes, there are some humans, like the kid who allegedly picked the wings off of the homeless bug, but that still fits in a post Wall-E world. Also, the bugs have to be irradiated for them to live such long lifespans. The average lifespan of an ant is just 3 months, but these ants all survive an entire summer and allude to being around for quite some time by saying things like “this happens every year.” One of the ants even says he “feels 90 again.” That works if you accept that the ants are sturdier due to evolution and mutated genes.]

There’s another Pixar movie that was supposed to be released in 2012, but it was cancelled and replaced with Brave. This movie was called Newt, and I believe it might have fit in this part of the timeline post-Wall-E. The movie’s supposed plot: “What happens when the last remaining male and female blue-footed newts on the planet are forced together by science to save the species, and they can’t stand each other?” 

Pixar Theory

A movie about an endangered species rebuilding itself could lend itself nicely to this theory, but since the movie was never released, I’m just speculating.

So what happens next? Humanity, machines, and animals grow in harmony to the point where a new super species is born. Monsters. The monsters civilization is actually Earth in the incredibly distant future.

[Someone wisely pointed out that in Monsters University, the college is said to be founded in 1313. If we’re really in the future, then that means the monsters could have reset society and begun using their own calendar. That could mean Monsters Inc. takes place up to 1400 (or more) years after A Bug’s Life.]

Where did they come from? It’s possible that the monsters are simply the personified animals mutated after the diseased earth was irradiated for 800 years.

[Not during Wall-E. I would guess that it took hundreds of years after Wall-E for the animals to become monsters]

Pixar Theory

Whatever the reason, these monsters seem to all look like horribly mutated animals, only larger and civilized. They have cities and even colleges, as we see in Monsters University.

[An issue some have found is that this doesn’t properly explain what happened to humans. I haven’t settled on a theory I really like yet, but I’m leaning towards the idea that monsters and machines eventually forgot that they need humans and got rid of them again, not realizing their mistake until all humans died out. Another explanation is that humans just couldn’t survive on Earth anymore.]

In Monsters Inc., they have an energy crisis because they are in a future earth without humans. Humans are the source of energy, but thanks to the machines, again, the Monsters find a way to use doors to travel to the human world. Only, it’s not different dimensions.

Pixar Theory

The monsters are going back in time. They’re harvesting energy to keep from becoming extinct by going back to when humans were most prominent. The peak of civilization, if you will. Though a lot of time has passed, animosity towards humans never really went away for animals/monsters.

Monsters must have relied on anti-human instincts to believe that just touching a human would corrupt their world like it did in the past. So they scare humans to gather their energy until they realize that laughter (green energy) is more efficient because it is positive in nature.

[An alternative explanation that fits even better that some of you brought up: The machines and monsters created the time travel doors but realized that messing with time could erase their existence and change history. So, they falsely trained monsters to believe that humans are toxic and from another dimension, making it suicide for a monster to interact too much with their world.]

[Another issue is how the monsters seem to worry about kids “being less scared these days.” It’s likely that going in the past takes a lot of energy, so the monsters can only go back as far as the practice still returns a profit in energy. To them, they’re just moving through the same dimension of time, but the monsters at the top know that eventually, they’ll run out. This is why Waternose is so bent on capturing children and enslaving them.]

We even see a connection between A Bug’s Life and Monsters Inc. via the trailer we see in both movies. As you can see, the trailer looks exactly the same, except the one in A Bug’s Life is noticeably older and more decrepit, while the one in Monsters Inc. (where Randall is sent via a door) has humans and looks newer.

Pixar Theory

Look at the picture above. On the left is the trailer from A Bug’s Life and the one on the right is from Monsters Inc. The one on the left looks older and more rundown. Even the vegetation is noticeably dryer and there’s less of it. The trailer on the right has humans and the frame even includes tall grass and a tree hanging overhead.

[Some have argued that the trailer in A Bug’s Life should be nothing but dust. I disagree based on how barely intact other buildings were in Wall-E. They also bring up the bug zapper that is powered by electricity. The zapper could easily be solar powered, just like Wall-E. The bugs probably used it as a light source to signal other bugs to “Bug City.” Also, the trailer in A Bug’s Life never shows lights in the trailer like it does for Monsters Inc.]

That said, Monsters Inc. is so far the most futuristic Pixar movie. By the end, humans, animals, and machines have finally found a way to understand each other and live harmoniously.

And then there’s Boo. What do you think happened to her? She saw everything take place in future earth where “kitty” was able to talk. She became obsessed with finding out what happened to her friend Sully and why animals in her time weren’t quite as smart as the ones she’d seen in the future.

She remembers that “doors” are the key to how she found Sully in the first place and becomes…

Pixar Theory

A WITCH. Yes, Boo is the witch from Brave. She figures out how to travel in time to find Sully, and goes back to what she believes is the source: The will-of-the-wisps.

They are what started everything, and as a witch, she cultivates this magic in an attempt to find Sully by creating doors going backwards and forwards in time.

[Just to clarify: The theory is that Boo discovered a way to use doors to travel through time on her own, possibly by developing magic on her own. She probably went back in time to the Dark Ages to get more magic from the will-o-wisps.]

How do we know? In Brave, you can briefly see a drawing in the workshop. It’s Sully.

Pixar Theory

We even see the Pizza Planet truck carved as a wooden toy in her shop, which makes no sense unless she’s seen one before…(and I’m sure she has since that truck is in almost every Pixar movie). If you look closely, you can see the carved truck below.

Pixar Theory

You remember Merida opening doors and the witch constantly disappearing? It’s because those doors are made the same way from Monsters Inc. They transport across time and that is why Merida couldn’t find the witch later in the movie.

[A lot of people have brought up how easter eggs are scattered throughout all the Pixar movies. I barely scratch the surface, but a great theory offered by some that I support is that these easter eggs are planted by Boo either intentionally or accidentally as she travels through time to find Sully. Some support for that is the fact that every easter egg in Brave lies in her workshop.]

But wait. How did Boo travel in time in the first place, and why is she obsessed with wood? Boo must have discovered that wood has been the source of energy all along, not just humans. The machines and monsters in Monsters Inc. use doors because they’re made of wood and found a way to use that energy to travel in time.

[Many have pointed out how the door that banishes monsters is metal. That’s probably because wood is used to harness this magic, and using a metal door would stop a banished monster from going back through it.]

Obsessed with finding Sully, Boo travelled across the Pixar universe using doors.

[It’s even possible that the wood from the tree in A Bug’s Life is the source of Flik’s ingenuity, due to his fascination and respect for seeds growing into trees. The tree also bears a resemblance to the one in Up that Carl and Ellie frequented, which could be the source of Carl’s wild creativity in using balloons to transport his house.]

[This also explains why Flik and Heimlich from A Bug’s Life show up in Toy Story 2, which would be centuries before their time. Boo was trying to go to the future and could have fallen short by landing in the post-Wall-E time. She would need wood to keep time traveling, but there’s not much around yet, so she stumbles upon the tree in A Bug’s Life. She could have accidentally brought back a few bugs with her when traveling backwards in time.]

So Boo went back to the Dark Ages, probably because she could use plenty of wood there for her experiments or to study the will-o-wisps. We know that her first encounter with Mor’du ended with her turning him into a monstrous bear, but he regresses.

She probably wanted to turn him into a bear because Sully resembles a bear, and she is still trying to figure out where Sully comes from.

Does Boo ever find Sully? I like to think so. He surely reunited with her at least once as a child at the end of Monsters Inc., but eventually, he had to stop visiting.

But her love for Sully is, after all, the crux of the entire Pixar universe. The love of different people of different ages and even different species finding ways to live on Earth without destroying it because of a lust for energy.

And that is the Pixar Theory.

For Inside OutThe Good Dinosaur, and Finding Dory, the story continues in Parts 2,3, and 4  respectively, so here are some other helpful links for your reading pleasure:


Thanks for reading this. Be sure to say hey on Twitter: @JonNegroni

All images courtesy of Disney/Pixar

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