Over the past few years, Pixar has been making a number of shorts for Disney+ including shows like “Forky Asks A Question”, “Cars On The Road”, “Popcorn”, “Dug Days” and “Pixar In Real Life”.  Later this year, Pixar is also releasing its first full-length series, “Win Or Lose”, and next year, there will be a new short series featuring characters from “Inside Out”.  

But it’s likely we are going to be seeing a lot less short content on Disney+ moving forward, as Pixar refocuses its attention on making theatrical releases.  Disney’s plan for the studio is for them to create three movies every two years, with more of a balance between original and franchise releases.

Recently, during an interview with Time, Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer, Pete Docter, was asked why Pixar is stepping away from making shorts, when it seems that people have shorter attention spans; he explained:

Well, when they first announced Disney+, we immediately jumped in with a bunch of shorts. Turns out the audience didn’t want short little things from Pixar at least. It just didn’t perform as well. It didn’t earn its keep in terms of what we had to put into it to make them. So Disney asked us to pull back on anything that’s not the features. 

We’ve also found the better [a movie] does at the theater, the more successful it has been on Disney+. Initially you’d think if it does really well in the theater, nobody’s going to watch it on Disney+ because we’ve seen it already. It’s actually the opposite, which kind of makes sense. I remember as a kid I had The Muppet Show album, and I played that thing to death. As a kid you want the comfort of watching this one thing over and over and over.   That’s true for us on Disney+. I don’t know if it’s true on Netflix.

Pixar’s reputation over the past few years has gone through a rough spot, which it hasn’t ever had before. It’s had the odd box office bomb like “The Good Dinosaur”, but it’s had a string of releases that failed to grab the viewer’s attention in the same way.  

The push to create more content for Disney+ to chase Netflix subscriber numbers resulted in all of Disney’s studios being pushed beyond their limits, which impacted on the quality of the products being released.  Throw in a change in attitudes towards streaming and going to cinemas, resulting in a big shift within the entertainment industry, which might take years to recover from, if ever.

Roger’s Take:  With so many of the recent Disney movies failing to ignite the box office, especially with “Lightyear” failing so badly, it’s very noticeable following the return of Bob Iger as CEO in late 2022, that Pixar has been going through some major internal changes.

Making shorts based on popular franchises like “Cars” and “Toy Story” is no doubt beneficial to keeping the franchise fresh and giving Disney+ subscribers a nice, quick burst of entertainment.  Shorts generally don’t set the world alight and are just a little entertainment snack that is consumed and forgotten.   We like them, but is that time and investment better suited to focusing on making their theatrical movies as good as possible?  And if the shorts aren’t actually pulling in enough viewers or new subscribers, it’s clear that shifting back to a model that worked before Disney+ might be the best thing overall.

Do you agree with Pixar’s decision to focus less on shorts for Disney+?  Let me know on social media!

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Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Roger@WhatsOnDisneyPlus.com Twitter: Twitter.com/RogPalmerUK Facebook: Facebook.com/rogpalmeruk

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