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Disney Announces ‘Soul,’ The Next Pixar Film Directed by Pete Docter

We won’t have to wait long to see another new Pixar movie after Onward premieres next March. Disney just revealed that their “untitled Pixar movie” slated for June 19, 2020 (just a little over three months after Onward) will be called Soul, directed by Pete Docter (Monsters Inc., Up, Inside Out) and produced by Dana Murray (Lou).

Pixar hasn’t updated their “coming soon” section with information about Soul, but we have received a synopsis, starting with this Tweet from the D23 Twitter account:

Additionally, Disney released this tagline:

Ever wonder where your passion, your dreams and your interests come from? What is it that makes you … you?”

While reading these descriptions, my first thought was Doctor Strange, the Marvel movie that partially takes place in New York and features inter-dimensional realms that could be referred to as “cosmic.” I also wondered if this might be like Neverwhere, the novel by Neil Gaiman, where a mystical world exists underneath London. But after giving this some more thought, I’m pretty sure the journey they’re talking about simply begins in New York, then takes the characters “into” cosmic realms, as in space.

If that’s the case, I’m extremely curious how the cosmos might explain the idea of what makes someone who they “are.” We all have souls, but an explanation for what the soul literally is tends to be a more introspective, perhaps meditative process, not something external. In other words, how would we be able to explain human existence — presumably answering “life’s most important questions” — by going out into space? Think Interstellar, but perhaps with the whole “love is truth” thing toned down slightly.

I love the idea of Pixar returning to space, which they haven’t really done since WALL-E. There are so many stories they can tell around the universe, especially if alien creatures get involved, and if the whole “cosmic realms” definition is as fantastical as it sounds. I’m especially happy to see something so seemingly ambitious coming from Pete Docter, whose original drafts for Up were like something out of a swashbuckling cloud city fantasy.

As for the title poster, there’s not much to speculate on, yet. The color scheme is basic blue, with some orange and yellow flair. The “o” in the middle looks like it might be some sort of eye or pupil, but it would be a stretch to call this pattern anything “galactic” or “cosmic.” If anything, the font here suggests the film is quite playful, not as heady or operatic as the description might imply.

It’s also worth mentioning that Soul coming out so soon after Onward delivers its own set of challenges. Pixar has only tried to do two original movies in the same year once before, and it led to box office disaster. Inside Out was a huge hit, but audiences didn’t really bother with The Good Dinosaur, despite the film receiving a prime November/holiday release spot.

The gap between Onward and Soul is even smaller, which will make it difficult for Pixar and Disney to effectively market both movies within the same time frame. I get the intention, of course. Disney’s release schedule has morphed into positioning event movies that dominate every month of the year. So to them, it’s like releasing two Marvel Cinematic Universe movies within just a few months of each other. It works because the brand name is so strong.

But that assumes the Pixar brand name is strong enough to overcome both these films being non-sequels, and therefore new properties that will require more persuasive, noise-breaking advertising to get the word out. This is why Cars 3 releasing the same year as Coco wasn’t much of an issue (though to be fair, neither film was a major box office success by Pixar standards).

I worry about this because I don’t want to see original Pixar films fail at the box office. That affects how many resources get devoted to these films down the road, and if you’re sick of Pixar sequels coming out more often than originals, than you should be paying very close attention to the next few years, which will see several original films vying for attention in a crowded theatrical marketplace. That said, Pixar has one advantage that can’t be discounted. They have the Disney machine.

Get updates on my theories, books, and giveaways by joining my Mailing List.

Or just say hey on Twitter: @JonNegroni


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My ‘Toy Story 4’ Review

Published on Cinemaholics:

The Toy Story movies have always been filled with lots of toys, and rightfully so. But every film so far has mostly played around with the character of Woody the cowboy doll. His story has progressed both positively and negatively to some extent over the years, from his fear of being replaced in the first Toy Story, his fear of being thrown away in Toy Story 2, and his fear of being forgotten in Toy Story 3.

Almost a decade later, Toy Story 4 confronts a new fear for Woody that not very many family movies even attempt to tackle: a fear of no longer having a purpose.

You can read the full review here. I’ll be adding some complementary thoughts about the movie over the next few weeks and beyond. There’s a lot to think about, good and ill. But mostly good.


Will There Be More ‘Toy Stories’ After ‘Toy Story 4’?

toy story 4

Caitlyn Busch, reporting for SyFyWire:

Will there be another Toy Story movie?

“We sort of joked that we thought Toy Story 2 was the last one,” producer Jonas Rivera said at first of working on Toy Story 4. “When we finished that one we thought that was the end of the story. And how we approached [Toy Story 4] … with Woody as the protagonist, this was the final chapter. And as filmmakers, we feel satisfied that this is where you could end it.

He continued: “Now there’s an implied future to all these films. And we sort of ‘never say never’ at Pixar. But as storytellers, we’re satisfied with this as closing the chapter.”

This is Public Relations 101. Rivera probably doesn’t want fans to expect more Toy Story movies or even think about audience fatigue. But he also doesn’t want to make false promises.

So here’s where it gets interesting.

Go on…Will There Be More ‘Toy Stories’ After ‘Toy Story 4’?

Pixar’s ‘Toy Story 4’ Trailer Strategy is Out of the Box

toy story 4

At last, Pixar has revealed its first big marketing materials for Toy Story 4, which includes a brief teaser trailer, several character posters, and more recently a “teaser trailer reaction” video that pokes self-aware fun at the franchise in almost parody form.

The response so far has had a wide range, much of it to be expected. Of course, a lot of Toy Story fans are extremely worried about an unnecessary Pixar sequel turning out to be an inferior cash grab that diminishes an already perfect trilogy with what many consider the most satisfying ending possible. I’m one of those fans.

Go on…Pixar’s ‘Toy Story 4’ Trailer Strategy is Out of the Box

A Pixar Without Ed Catmull Might Be A Pixar Without Disney

ed catmull

From Angela Watercutter at Wired:

Late Tuesday night, after 32 years, Ed Catmull announced he would be retiring at the end of this year. This is not sad news, though—it’s a chance to give Pixar a new future.

I’m late on this news because I was out of town and thus not blogging when the announcement broke (and somewhat silently from what I can tell). I didn’t even hear about Catmull’s retirement until a day after everyone else, and I’ve been stewing in my thoughts ever since.

In the cited piece above, Watercutter details how Catmull’s retirement is “an opportunity, not a loss.” And of course, Catmull himself claimed in his 2015 book Creativity Inc. that it was always his goal to leave Pixar with a strong legacy of lasting leadership (hence, Catmull is staying on as advisor through next July). It’s very Pixar-esque to look at a problem as an opportunity, and for now, I share in the optimism painting this upcoming era, but for a very different reason than even I expected.

It’s looking like Pixar is reclaiming its independence from Disney, albeit one promotion/departure at a time.

Go on…A Pixar Without Ed Catmull Might Be A Pixar Without Disney

Is Pixar in Decline? Cinemaholics Happy Hour w/ T.J. Wolsos

pixar

It’s finally happened. T.J. Wolsos of PixarPost and I have collaborated on a project. Above, you’ll hear our full conversation on all things Pixar, mostly centering around the feeling that the animation studio’s best days are in the past. T.J. and I have a hearty debate and discussion about whether or not this is really true, and if it is, what caused the change (or “evolution” as T.J. aptly points out).

Is Pixar making too many sequels? Did Disney cause all of this? Has Disney animation surpassed Pixar? And what movies are coming next from the Emeryville campus? We answer these questions and tons more, plus we read your tweets and comments to parse out how everyone else feels about the subject. This is one podcast episode you Pixar fans don’t want to miss.

Go on…Is Pixar in Decline? Cinemaholics Happy Hour w/ T.J. Wolsos

The New Wreck-It Ralph 2 Trailer Finally Gives Us A Plot

wreck-it ralph 2

Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 (yes, that is the full title) gives us a lot to chew on with its latest trailer. While the earlier teasers focused on the general conceit of a Disney-fied internet, this second official trailer introduces a fully baked story and some actual…ideas.

Go on…The New Wreck-It Ralph 2 Trailer Finally Gives Us A Plot

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