In June, Pixar is going to be releasing its next animated movie, “Inside Out 2”, which returns to the mind of newly minted teenager Riley just as headquarters is undergoing a sudden demolition to make room for something entirely unexpected: new Emotions! Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust, who’ve long been running a successful operation by all accounts, aren’t sure how to feel when Anxiety shows up. And it looks like she’s not alone.

Over the past few years, Pixar has gone through some major problems, such as when “Onward” had its box office run destroyed when the world lockdown during the pandemic, which resulted in Disney sending “Turning Red”, “Luca” and “Soul”, directly onto Disney+ to keep subscribers and Wall Street happy.  

These changes in how Pixar movies got released, caused a ripple effect that saw many people simply no longer feel Pixar was a high quality brand that was worthy going to the cinema, resulting in “Lightyear” bombing at the box office and while “Elemental” eventually pulled in a respectable $500 million, it had one of the worst opening weekends ever for a Pixar movie.

Jim Morris, Pixar’s president, recently revealed their reaction to the opening weekend of “Elemental” being so disappointing to Bloomberg:

“We were all kind of gut-punched, and it was tough on morale.  I thought it was a good film with a Pixar feel, so when it didn’t work, that was like, ‘Whoa.’ I was thinking, ‘Do people just not want to see the kind of film we make anymore? Is that done?’ ”

And that doesn’t take into account that Disney and Pixar alienated some of its audience with its strong messaging, which many parents disagreed with, plus the push to create new content for Disney+ had put the studio under more pressure to create more films, shows and shorts for the streaming service, resulting in the quality dipping on some of the projects.

Since Bob Iger’s return as CEO, he has pulled back the reins on how much content Pixar has to create and refocused the studio on theatrical releases, with “Elio” getting bumped back over fifteen months to the summer of 2025. 

According to Jim Morris, it’s unlikely that another Pixar feature film will get released directly on Disney+ in the future:

“I hope that we will not release another feature film on Disney+

There’s a lot of pressure on “Inside Out 2” to perform well at the box office, and that has also had an impact on what’s being created for Disney+.

Late last year, Pixar was supposed to release its first-ever animated series, “Win Or Lose”, on Disney+.  This original series follows the intertwined stories of eight different characters as they each prepare for their big championship softball game. The series reveals what it actually feels like to be in the shoes of each character—the insecure kids, their helicopter parents, even a lovesick umpire—with incredibly funny, very emotional and uniquely animated perspectives.

Pixar is also developing a new series called “Dream Productions”, which is a spin-off from “Inside Out” and is set in Riley’s dream.  This new series is currently set to be released on Disney+ next year.  It’s not yet clear if this is a full-length series or just a series of shorts.  And Pixar is also going to be holding off making any more new content for Disney+ until they’ve seen the reaction to “Win Or Lose” and also trying to make more of a line between what’s theatrical and what’s for streaming.

“If we do more stuff for Disney+, it should be a series, and then that makes a clean demarcation between what we do for theaters and what we do for streaming.”

Recently it was revealed that Pixar had laid off 14% of its staff, which is likely due to the studio drastically reducing how much content it’s creating, resulting in less of a need for staff.  With “Inside Out 2” and “Win Or Lose” complete, with less projects in development, they aren’t going to need everyone.

Roger’s Take:  It doesn’t come as a huge surprise to see Pixar pulling back on Disney+ content. While the odd little short works as a little bump for a franchise, Pixar, like Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios, has suffered from being pushed to create more content without the systems in place to deal with that expansion.   With Disney+ now over five years old, hearing executives talking about wanting to see how people react, it’s a bit late for those decisions.  “Win Or Lose” was announced back at the Investor Day in 202. Nearly five years later, it’s still not out, and while we’ve had the pandemic and strikes, if they wait until after it comes out before greenlighting another animated series, it’ll be another long wait for audiences.  It feels pretty simple to me: Pixar’s going back to how it was before Disney+ existed and “Win Or Lose” is complete, so it makes sense for them to release it, but when it will do the least damage to the studio’s box office potential.

Do you think Pixar needs to release less?  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: Twitter: Facebook:

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