Four years ago, you would’ve not found a bigger Pixar fan.
Well, okay, I’m not really the collecting type, but that’s because I’ve never had the money to collect a whole bunch of Pixar movie-related merchandise. I also didn’t really want to talk someone’s ear off about a movie I know that they’ve seen before. Most people have seen most if not all of the Pixar movies.
But I wanted to work there. I was obsessed with wanting to work there, and be a storyboard artist or a character designer. I’ve watched most of the Pixar documentary movies. I saw how animated the storyboard artists were when writing. I see them laughing. I see John Lasseter involved in almost everything. I obsessed over their fun-looking offices and the secret rooms they had. They were all just big kids doing a fun job, and I wanted to be a big kid there too. I wanted a job at Pixar.
So by the time Senior year of high school came around, we had a senior project with a whole thirty minute presentation, and a ten paged paper. We had to prove a thesis, and mine was “Pixar is one of the most innovative companies in the world.”
Now I feel that’s beginning to be a bit arguable.
Don’t get me wrong. Their stories have always been creative. I mean, I did prove my thesis in my paper and presentation. Back in the day, John and the Pixar crew were trendsetters and problem solvers. They were one of the first companies to have a successful 3D animated movie, Toy Story. They also created their own software to animate. One of my favorite stories is something I read in David Price’s book, The Pixar Touch. When the Pixar crew was working on A Bug’s Life, there were too few ants in a scene when they needed many more. The software they currently had couldn’t upload more than a few ants. John wasn’t happy with the number. They built the program stronger so that instead of just a few ants, they could have several hundred in the same shot. And of course, all of their stories were new and captivating, dominating the first weekend at box offices.
If that’s not innovation I don’t know what to tell you.
But there was something that changed when they finished making movies out of the idea that had written down on that restaurant napkin.
Pixar most certainly fell in a slump. Then I noticed a bunch of announcements of sequels that were planned by them. I’m not a huge fan of sequels. Toy Story 2 I liked, but not for the story itself, but the reason it came to be (huge story overhaul in less than a year before release date). But I didn’t even touch Cars 2. I don’t think a whole lot of people liked Cars 2. Then there’s going to be a Cars 3, Toy Story 4, The Incredibles 2, and Finding Dory!
And out of all these movie announcements, only three of them are completely original stories. One was Inside Out, which, to be honest I haven’t seen yet so I already feel like I’m in the wrong. However people loved it. Another one of them is coming out soon, The Good Dinosaur. The next original movie will be out in 2017, but then that’s it. We won’t see any other original content from Pixar until, maybe, 2020.
This also doesn’t mean that the sequels will be bad either. Toy Story 3 was the perfect ending for most of us. Monster’s University was a different aspect and perspective on characters we already knew, and it captured the hearts of most excited college students. People are going insane for The Incredibles 2, and Finding Dory is going to be fun, I know.
But my fear is that sequels are going to be more dominating than the original content, especially when I feel that Pixar is the king of original content. This is a common Hollywood problem (like, how many more Terminator movies do we actually need?).
People will go and see something they love and are used to. Original content is change, it’s new, and things that change and are new are scary.
Now I don’t want to start a trend where I start bringing down companies that do produce good content. Pixar is still making good movies, and good sequels, so there’s still hope for original content after 2020. I don’t want this post or my last to be a constant thing, but it’s like I said before: I will point out the flaws in a company that I’ve known that can make good content yet do something not so great for the sake of money.
(Picture from blog.cogswell.edu and screenshot from Youtube “Toy Story 3 – Playtime at Bonnie’s [HD])