Ratatouille 5, Up 27, A Bug's Life 2 and on and on...
Toy Story 3, Cars 2, Monsters 2, sequels, sequels, sequels...
Is this the death of creativity at the Lamp? Has John Lasseter and Ed Catmull finally sold their soul to Bob Iger? Say it ain't so, Joe.
But that won't mean people won't try and say it is. I, like you, love the string of original films that Disney North has pumped out over the past decade and a half. Over that time there has only been one sequel: "Toy Story 2." In my opinion, it's even better than the original film. Other than that film Emeryville has produced a collection of original, unique and somewhat unconventional tales that have had audiences waiting in line every summer for a new Pixar film to grace the silver screen.
Now, around four years after the Mouse brought the company in as a permanent part of the family all the offspring are starting to look... remarkably alike. Almost like forgotten twins. Hmmm. Is this a coincidence? Does this mean the end of the era of Pixar? No, I don't think so. I do know that Iger and crew would love to have more sequels to all these classics, but there is no gun being held to the heads of Lasseter/Catmull. But there is a desire for more product. DreamWorks Animation is now on schedule to put out five films every two years and Pixar has been slowly churning away at producing one pic a year. In 2012 there will be two Lamp films for the first time. I don't see them getting up to as many as Katzenberg plans for his company, but I do think you'll see more films in the future. Perhaps one original and one "familiar" film every eighteen months or so. And I'm not opposed to sequels, just bad sequels. If there is a story there to tell, then I'm fine with them telling it.
That has been Lasseter's mantra all along. Not that they were against sequels, but that they wanted there to be a good story to tell. And so far I have no reason to question their motives. I'm sure the business end of the Mouse does ask/want more of these films, but as long as John and the crew believe in what they do and focus on telling great stories then I won't mind numbers being at the end of a title. I don't think we'll see any more Toy Story films, though. This one is pretty much the closing chapter to that tale. But that doesn't mean Woody and Buzz are going to be retiring. You just won't see them in those films anymore. I'm sure they'll find other jobs in the company. It's a big organization and there are many divisions that would love to have those characters work for them (television, shorts, ads, the parks, ect.).
And then there is the sequel that everyone wants to see. Out of all the projects announced, the one everybody expects still hasn't happened. The Incredibles 2. Well, remember that Pixar is a creative, director driven studio and this is Brad Bird's baby. And Bird is a little preoccupied right now. He's been trying for the longest time to get "1906" up and going and he may be filming the next Tom Cruise M.I. film (Warner, get him to do Superman, pleeeeeaasse!). So unless he frees up time and has a story he believes in, or he give the nod to Pixar/Lasseter that allows them to turn the characters over to someone else don't expect it to happen anytime before 2013-14 at the earliest. If at all.
And not all the films are sequels. Remember that "The Brave" is scheduled for 2012 as well as MI 2. That's the film formerly known as "The Bear and the Bow." And they've got a deep production schedule of films that move further out all the way to 2014, not all of which has been announced yet. More original films will come, but sequels are a part of Pixar and have always been a part of Hollywood. All the way back to the silent days. Rudolf Valentino followed his highly successful "The Sheik" in 1921 with a much demanded sequel in 1926 called "Son of the Sheik." Hollywood has and always will make sequels. So it's not as if it were a shocker that a film studio made more of something that people liked. It's the film business with a focus on business. If they don't make money, they won't make more of something. And there needs to be a desire for people to want to see something before they're willing to make it.
That said, not everything deserves or needs a second helping. I know for a while they tried to make a sequel to "Blade Runner" and it was totally wrong to do so. I loved the film "Highlander" and the ending to that film made any sequel totally transparent as to the blind greed of show business. But again, it's a business. There has never been nor will there ever be a time when it wasn't/hasn't a business as well as an art form. There is no purity in that all they ever wanted was to make art. When John and his small band of cohorts set out to make animated films back in the late 80's it was for the pure love and joy of it. But they weren't planning on doing it for free. It's nice to think that people do things and make art for the Nobelist of intentions, but it's also very naive. Films cost money and they need to make a great deal back to pay for themselves. I have no problem with them making a mint as long as they create something worth the price of my admission. So long as the films Pixar comes out with continue to entertain me like they always have, then I'll be happy to pay for that ticket. And so will many others. Lasseter understands that when they start creating something that bores the audience then they've failed.
I'll trust him to know when that is; he's got a pretty good record so far...