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Pixar Is Taking a Break from Sequels After ‘Incredibles 2’

pixar sequels incredibles 2

Turns out that tip I reported was correct after all.

Allanah Faherty confirmed the rumor yesterday on Movie Pilot:

Pixar President, Jim Morris has revealed that after the release of the last sequel on the current slate, The Incredibles 2 in June 2019, the studio will release four original films.

“Everything after Toy Story and The Incredibles is an original right now,” he said. At the moment there are two untitled original films scheduled to be released in March and June 2020, and a further two are in early development, and look “highly likely” to join the studio’s schedule soon.

This is interesting news for a few big reasons. The most obvious one is that this addresses the “sequel-fatigue” many of us have been experiencing with the studio since Cars 2, as well as the doubts people have been having about Pixar’s quality in comparison to Walt Disney Animation Studios’ recent wave of huge success.

But the other big reason we should consider is how this will reflect on Pixar’s massive hit, Finding Dory, which is of course a sequel. The film has been a box office juggernaut in the U.S. (it will soon dethrone Captain America: Civil War as the biggest domestic hit of 2016), and the movie has also enjoyed steadily positive praise from critics.

In other words, this news implies what a lot of us have always suspected about Pixar as a business. Their decisions on which movies to release are not solely driven by short-term numbers and cash grabs. It seems they’re more interested in telling the stories they want to tell.

Note: the top image is a reference to Pixar’s next original film, Cocowhich will release next year.

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The Pixar Theory Debate, Featuring SuperCarlinBros

pixar theory supercarlinbros

How does Finding Dory fit into the Pixar Theory? This week on the podcast, I’m joined by Jonathan and Ben Carlin (of the YouTube channel, Supercarlinbros) to answer just that question. But we’re not in total agreement, so it’s a battle of the theorists.

To get the most out of this debate, I highly recommend that you first check out Jon and Ben’s video about Finding Dory and the Pixar Theory, as well as my own write up, The Pixar Theory: Part 4, Finding Dory.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: If you could suggest the next Pixar movie, reaching from your own emotional life stories, what would you pitch to them?

Go on…The Pixar Theory Debate, Featuring SuperCarlinBros

Is ‘Finding Dory’ Part of Hollywood’s Sequel Problem?

finding dory sequel problem

Mark Harris via VultureThe Sequels of 2016 Aren’t About Storytelling; They’re Just Brand Extensions

I don’t consider “sequel” a slur. But it’s notable how much the impetus behind them has changed, and with it, their very nature.

This summer’s sequels are not, for the most part, story continuations but brand extensions. Some are good and some not; some have succeeded and some have flopped, but almost all of them are different beasts than the first generation of blockbuster genre sequels.

To my taste, the best reason to make a sequel is because the story demands it.

Overall, this is a great write-up by Harris that articulates a lot of the frustration I and many critics and fans have been having with sequels this year. He even champions Marvel’s Civil War as a good example of how sequels with grander narrative purpose make better impressions on audiences who’ve grown savvy to Hollywood’s sequel formula.

But I would disagree on one example he brings up briefly.

As for Finding Dory, it’s a solid brand refresher that will make a mint — an effective way for Disney to remonetize a dormant franchise. But nothing will convince me that Pixar’s move from being arguably the finest producer of original content in Hollywood to a sequel manufactory (next up: The Incredibles 2, Cars 3, Toy Story 4) is anything but dispiriting news.

I don’t disagree with Harris on this point at all, but I think Finding Dory is a wildly inappropriate example of his main point. Finding Dory is no Civil War in the sense that it exists in a larger universe of movies with a single narrative (or is it?), but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad sequel off of the definition Harris attributes above to movies like TMNT: Out of the Shadows and The Huntsman: Winter’s War.

Go on…Is ‘Finding Dory’ Part of Hollywood’s Sequel Problem?

Find Yourself, Not Dory

finding dory podcast review

This week on the podcast, I’m joined by a full cast to review Finding Dory, the latest Pixar movie and sequel to 2003’s Finding Nemo. We also discuss the latest news coming out of E3, the new Moana trailer, and a lot more.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: For those of you who’ve already seen the movie, which of the new characters in Finding Dory did you like best?

Go on…Find Yourself, Not Dory

The Pixar Theory: How ‘Finding Dory’ Fits In The Pixar Universe

finding dory pixar theory

Don’t cry mommy…don’t cry.

Here’s the deal. A few years ago, I proposed a theory that makes the case for how and why every Pixar movie from Toy Story to WALL-E exists in a shared universe with a single, overarching narrative. The case I make is fueled by easter eggs, cameos, story themes, and other clues that make up what I call The Pixar Theory (link above).

Since I wrote the original theory and turned it into a book, I’ve also added “chapters” that talk about Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur, just last year. And now we’ve come to the 2016 release, Finding Dory.

I’ll give you the normal rundown below, but first a tease. Would you believe me if I told you that the Toy Story movies have an incredibly strong connection with this movie? Well, we’ll get to that.

THE SET UP

finding dory pixar theory

It took Pixar 13 years, but they finally made a sequel to one of their most beloved films, Finding Nemo. In that movie, a clown fish named Marlin crosses the ocean in search of his son, and he’s aided by the quirky and forgetful blue tang, Dory.

The sequel kicks off a year later, when Dory suddenly remembers a clue related to her family, whom she lost as a very young child—er—fish. So Marlin and Nemo help Dory cross the ocean once again to find them, only this time, they have to brave the horrors outside of the ocean, in a marine institute that rehabilitates fish and has its own aquarium exhibits.

First, let’s talk briefly about how Finding Nemo fits into the theory, because for obvious reasons, that will inform a lot of what we can uncover with the sequel.

FINDING FINDING NEMO

This was actually one of the shortest chapters of the book, mostly because the connections in Finding Nemo are very speculative and work to enhance other animal-centric films like Ratatouille. Interestingly, I do speak in length about Dory in that chapter, because she is a character who represents the mysterious intelligence animals in Pixar movies seem to possess, leading all the way to movies like Monsters Inc., which imagines a world where animals run the world as monsters.

Dory has very unique abilities that other fish like her simply don’t possess. She can read, for one thing, and “speak whale.” We’ll get to why that really is, later, because Finding Dory sheds plenty of light on where this all comes from.

finding dory pixar theory

I also speak on how Finding Nemo goes out of its way to create animosity between the fish of the ocean and the humans, paving the way for an increasingly connected community of animals who will do whatever it takes to get away from wherever the humans are. Humans steal Nemo and threaten his life, keep the Tank Gang imprisoned in the dentist’s office, and then capture Dory in a fishing net. It’s proven in the movie that humans are actually the biggest threat to creatures of the ocean.

But in the end, the fish rally against humans once and for all, thanks in no small part to Nemo’s leadership when he convinces a horde of them to break the human’s fishing net so they can escape.

WHAT ABOUT FINDING DORY?

Warning: spoilers for Finding Dory from here on out. Be sure to watch the movie before going any further unless you want to be spoiled.

Humans are still terrible in the story of Finding Dory, but not always directly. True, they capture Dory almost as soon as she reaches the kelp forest next to the marine institute. But Dory herself doesn’t seem to fear or hate them. She, just like most other characters, is pretty indifferent to the humans.

finding dory pixar theory

Hank the octopus, on the other hand, is very antagonistic toward the marine institute workers, always escaping and finding ways to avoid them at all costs. This is made even clearer when his worst nightmare is realized at the “touch pool,” where children descend their fingers upon the fish to the tune of a horror movie.

Imagine the scene from Toy Story 3 when the toys first encounter the caterpillar room. All of the savvy toys are hiding because they know children are coming to make their lives a living riptide. Well, that’s basically what happens here, and this fear of humans isn’t just comic relief. It’s kind of terrifying, and it’s even a little entertaining considering a Toy Story connection coming later…

It’s no wonder that by the end of the movie, all of the fish from the institute hark to the words of Sigourney Weaver and “release” themselves into the ocean. To them, freeing themselves of humans is their version of a happy ending.

THE DEAL WITH DORY…AGAIN

So what makes Dory so “special,” and just what in the ocean does that have to do with the Pixar Theory? Well, don’t forget that the growing intelligence of animals in movies like RatatouilleUpA Bug’s Life, and even The Good Dinosaur all lead up to the inevitable reality where oversized animals who look like monsters solely inhabit the future world devoid of humans (only for them to go back in time to harvest the energy-filled screams of children in order to sustain their world further because, and you guessed it, humans are batteries).

finding dory pixar theory

Like in Inside Out, Pixar hits us over the head with the idea that humans give off an energy that sparks life into everyday objects like toys, cars, and even our own emotions. So how did Dory become the way she is?

It’s revealed in Finding Dory that she was born in captivity. So she grew up constantly surrounded by humans and signs from the exhibits that she’s able to remember throughout the film, explaining how she was able to learn to read. Peach the starfish from Finding Nemo is another fish who has the rare ability to read, and even she explains that she was brought to the tank from eBay.

The idea is that when animals become entrenched in human fixtures and attention, they are able to expand their personalities and capabilities. Though Dory suffers from a very serious disability with short-term memory loss, she’s able to cope by forming connections in a very human way. This explains why fish are so quick to help her with whatever problem she’s facing, no questions asked.

We see the same sort of thing with Remy from Ratatouille, who becomes the greatest chef in France only after his experiences in the human world. Simply put, humans and animals have a lot to gain and learn from each other.

IS THAT IT?

finding dory pixar theory

Nope. There’s also a subtle but unforgettable moment in the movie that hints a connection with Toy Story. Here it goes.

About halfway through the movie, Marlin and Nemo find themselves in a fish tank outside of a gift shop, and there’s a single, plastic fish toy moving around them. It prods Marlin over and over again, and then eventually when they’re trying to figure a way out, they notice that the fish is tapping the glass all of a sudden pointing directly at the exact path they need to take in order to escape (a stream of geysers that will carry them over to the tide pool).

The idea is that the toy fish is, you guessed it, alive, and it’s trying to help Nemo and Marlin without revealing itself because it has to play dead with so many people around watching them. This is a great connection to the relationship we see in Toy Story 2 between Woody and Buster, who form a bond and friendship together. Here, the toy just seems anxious to show Marlin and Nemo exactly what they need to do so they can find their friend.

In other words, Pixar is amazing.

ANYTHING ELSE?

finding dory pixar theory

As always, there are ample easter eggs and references to other movies to find throughout, including the A113 callout that shows up toward the end of the movie on a license plate (again, just like Toy Story).

Also, Sigourney Weaver’s voice is heard throughout the marine park announcing the exhibits. This will be familiar to fans of Andrew Stanton’s other Pixar movie, WALL-E, which also features Weaver’s voice as the sound of a computer on the Axiom. Makes sense that in the Pixar universe, Sigourney Weaver’s voice is the most trusted when it comes to soothing, computer-controlled announcements.

Remember Darla from Finding Nemo? You can see the same photo of her holding the dead fish in the marine institute that her uncle has all the way in Australia. This means the marine institute has a clear connection to the P. Sherman, who also loves to work by the sea. It could even mean that in the one year since losing all of his fish in the tank, he decided to devote his life to studying aquatic life in California, a dream somewhat preluded in the fact that he scuba dived far into the ocean just to take photos, eventually leading to him taking Nemo.

finding dory pixar theory

And here’s a spookier reference that hints the rise of BnL, the corporation that will eventually burn all the trash into toxic air. In the picture below (bottom right), you can spot a WALL-E calendar, referencing the robots that will one day (try) to clean the Earth.

It’s telling that in a movie where there is a ton of garbage piling up in the water just outside the marine institute, robots as advanced as WALL-E are already being prototyped.

finding dory pixar theory

The Luxo Ball and Pizza Planet truck make their scheduled appearances, as well. You can see the Luxo Ball in the clutter of toys in the Kid Zone, and the Pizza Planet truck is one of the underwater vehicles found during the squid scene.

Be sure to add what you find in your own viewings via the comments.

Another quick thing, though, is that for whatever reason, Pixar seems to really hate birds unless they’re in a short like with Piper, or they’re named Nigel. Like the seagulls from Finding Nemo and the instinctual predator bird from A Bug’s Life, there are half-brained birds all over the place in Finding Dory, including one named Becky who will still find a way to capture your heart, I guess.

WHAT’S NEXT?

pixar theory

Sadly, it will be a year before we get any new Pixar movies, with Cars 3 set to release June 16, 2017. Though a lot of people may not be very excited about yet another Cars sequel, they can still take solace in knowing that the studio is releasing Coco, an original non-sequel coming out that same year in November, based on the Mexican holiday Día de Muertos.

The film has already begun animation as of April, and the premise follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who tries to uncover a “generations-old” mystery. The current synopsis is:

“Coco is the celebration of a lifetime, where the discovery of a generations-old mystery leads to a most extraordinary and surprising family reunion.”

Also, we have Toy Story 4 and Incredibles 2 to look forward to in the next few years, including a rumored slate of about four non-sequels Pixar is working on that are due to come out over the next decade.

All of these movies are months and years away, so until they release, I’ll be here conspiring.

Want even more?

  • First, be sure to check out the book, The Pixar Theory, available on paperback and ebook via Kindle, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, or just a PDF. This will cover the entire theory and every movie in the Pixar universe, updated from the 2013 blog post.
  • Parts 2 and 3 of the The Pixar Theory cover the latest movies that have come out since the book was published. So you can check out Part 2, Inside Out, as well as Part 3, The Good Dinosaur via the links.
  • Want to talk about all of this stuff with tons of other Pixar Detectives? You can start all of the conversations you want in the comments for this post, or join the ongoing discussions in the original blog post, here.
  • Last but hopefully not least, you can read my free Pixar Theory serial novel, The Pixar Detective, which was completed last spring. It tells a new story that shows off the grand narrative of all the Pixar movies with original characters, familiar faces, and a mystery that ties them all together.

Thanks for reading this. To get updates on my theories, books, and giveaways, join my mailing list.

Or just say hey on Twitter: @JonNegroni

 

Netflix is Making Us Hate Movies

netflix movies

This week on Now Conspiring (that other movie podcast), we discuss the various news of the week, ranging from new movie announcements and some later developments on films we’re anticipating.

We also debate the future of streaming, led by Netflix and Amazon — begging the question, Will movies change forever because of how we watch them? 

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: We have two! First, what is your favorite manga and/or anime (we all share ours). Second, do you think streaming sites like Netflix are killing movie theater experiences, or will change them?

Go on…Netflix is Making Us Hate Movies

2016 Movie Power Rankings

2016 movie power rankings

Welcome to my second-annual “Year in Film” rankings, where I list out every movie I’ve watched and reviewed in 2016.

Last year, I reviewed 87 films (most of them reviewed via the Now Conspiring podcast). But in 2016, I’m putting more focus into written reviews, so you can more easily search the archives.

Here are the rankings so far, with corresponding reviews linked:

#1 Moana

2016 movie ranking

#2 Sing Street

2016 movie ranking

#3 Manchester by the Sea

2016 movie ranking

#4 Hell or High Water

2016 movie ranking

#5 Moonlight

2016 movie ranking

#6 Sully

2016 movie ranking

#7 Zootopia

2016 movie power rankings

#8 Midnight Special

midnight special ranking

#9 Kubo and the Two Strings

2016 movie ranking

#10 Captain America: Civil War

2016 movie rankings

#11 Green Room

2016 movie ranking

#12 Pete’s Dragon

2016 movie ranking

#13 The Conjuring 2

2016 movie rankings

#14 Swiss Army Man

2016 movie rankings

#15 Southside with You

2016 movie ranking

#16 Hail, Caesar!

2016 movie power rankings

#17 Everybody Wants Some!!

2016 movie ranking

#18 Hunt for the Wilderpeople

2016 movie ranking

#19 The Jungle Book

2016 movie rankings

#20 10 Cloverfield Lane 

2016 movie power rankings

#21 Edge of Seventeen

2016 movie ranking

#22 Hacksaw Ridge

2016 movie ranking

#23 Arrival

2016 movie rankings

#24 Captain Fantastic

2016 movie ranking

#25 Finding Dory

2016 movie ranking

#26 Don’t Think Twice

2016 movie ranking

#27 Deadpool

2016 movie power rankings

#28 Doctor Strange

2016 movie ranking

#29 Don’t Breathe

2016 movie ranking

#30 Queen of Katwe

2016 movie ranking

#31 Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

2016 movie rankings

#32 Justice League vs. Teen Titans

2016 movie ranking

#33 The Lobster

2016 movie ranking

#34 The Witch

2016 movie power rankings

#35 The BFG

2016 movie rankings

#36 The Nice Guys

nice guys ranking

#37 Kung Fu Panda 3

2016 movie power rankings

#38 X-Men: Apocalypse

2016 movie rankings

#39 Demolition

2016 movie ranking

#40 Snowden

2016 movie ranking

#41 The Light Between Oceans

2016 movie ranking

#42 Neon Demon

2016 movie ranking

#43 Star Trek Beyond

2016 movie ranking

#44 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

2016 movie ranking

#45 The Accountant

2016 movie ranking

#46 Magnificent Seven

2016 movie rankings

#47 Suicide Squad

2016 movie ranking

#48 Money Monster

money monster ranking

#49 Hardcore Henry

hardcore henry ranking

#50 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

2016 movie power rankings

#51 Batman: The Killing Joke

2016 movie ranking

#52 Jason Bourne

2016 movie ranking

#53 Gods of Egypt 

2016 movie rankings

#54 Ghostbusters

2016 movie ranking

#55 Warcraft

2016 movie rankings

#56 Independence Day: Resurgence

2016 movie rankings

#57 Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

2016 movie ranking

#58 The Secret Life of Pets

2016 movie ranking

#59 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

batman v superman ranking

#60 Sausage Party

2016 movie ranking

#61 Alice Through the Looking Glass

alice looking glass ranking

#62 Dirty Grandpa

2016 movie rankings

#63 The Divergent Series: Allegiant

2016 movie rankings

#64 The Legend of Tarzan

2016 movie rankings


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