Ever since Disney decided to send three Pixar films in a row straight to Disney+, we’ve seen Pixar struggle to find its footing at the box office. “Lightyear” failed to ignite, while “Elemental” had the worst-ever opening-weekend performance for a Pixar film. However, it did have a slow burn to eventually hit a decent box office number.

Recently, during an interview with Bloomberg, Pixar’s Chief creative officer, Pete Docter, revealed that the box office failure of both of these films caused a major shakeup with the studios.

“there was a real and intense period of self-scrutiny and feeling like we messed up in some way,”

While many were looking at the decision by Disney to move three movies, “Soul”, “Luca” and “Turning Red” straight to Disney+ during the pandemic as a major influence in why people stopped going to cinemas, the studio held postmortems on why their movies had been failing.

One reason that was picked up on was how the latest batch of movies had focused too much on autobiographical tales. “Luca” was inspired by the director’s childhood in Italy, “Turning Red” was based on the director’s relationship with her mother, and “Elemental” was based on the director’s immigrant family.

Instead, Pixar is now going to be thinking much more about a movie that has more mass appeal, which will hopefully result in a bigger box office run and more success.  But this move to focusing more on films having mass appeal, will see more sequels and spinoffs hitting our screens.   Disney CEO Bob Iger has already announced that a “Toy Story” sequel is in development, and it’s likely we will see more in the future.

Jim Morris, who is Pixar’s president has said:

“With a sequel, if you put something out there that doesn’t have the goods, then you will be punished for it.  Having had the doldrums we did, it will certainly be a good test with Inside Out 2 for us to see: Does this stuff still work, or does it not?”

As part of a major strategic reshuffling, Pixar is now changing its focus, with more of a balance between original movies and established franchises with sequels and spinoffs.   Following the directive to focus on quality over quantity, which will mean Pixar trying to release three movies every two years, though it has generally only released one film a year in the past, Pixar’s output for Disney+ has been scaled back, instead focusing on theatrical releases.  

Balancing established franchises and originals isn’t going to be easy, and apparently, every previous film in the Pixar catalogue is being consisted for a new instalment, with “Finding Nemo” and “The Incredibles” regarded as particularly strong candidates for new titles.

While I would love to see some new instalments in these franchises, especially “The Incredibles”, which is probably much easier to expand due to its superhero tales.  But that also might be an additional issue for this franchise; with “superhero fatigue” being blamed for the failure of many Marvel and DC projects to catch audiences’ attention, maybe an “Incredibles” sequel is left on the sidelines for a little longer.

Roger’s Take:  Over the past one hundred years, Disney has had many ups and downs, so it only makes sense that Pixar goes through some downs, too.  There are multiple reasons why the last few year’s worth of Pixar releases haven’t connected with audiences in the same way.   Often the subject matter doesn’t connect with a larger audience, and many parents worry about the messaging involved in the movies, alienating some families from watching them.   Disney is looking to pull back on all of these fronts, and in the long run, I’m sure Pixar will get back on the right track, but it also needs to evolve with the audience’s tastes.  It’s a tricky balancing act; too many sequels aren’t going to work, but too many originals in a row that don’t click with audiences isn’t going to work long-term, either.  Hopefully, this balance will work better.

And while we wait for new adventures of “The Incredibles” and “Finding Nemo”, you can find the previous movies on Disney+ now.

What do you think about Pixar’s plans?  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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