Despite the recent bout of sequel and prequelitis that Pixar has suffered (arguably from a Patient Zero named Disney), the ships seem to be creatively righting themselves. They’re also apparently tethering themselves to the Golden Gate bridge in order to watch the sunset.
The picture above is from Big Hero 6, which is one of many projects that The Mouse opened up about during this year’s D23 conference. It’s one of the biggest signals of Marvel sensibilities merging with Disney — an exciting prospect that could bring some fantastic comic book properties to the big screen beyond the post-Avengers plans through, gulp, 2021. There’s a world out there of comic heroes that may not be right for live-action, and it’s encouraging to see that Disney understands that potential and is willing to take a chance.
There are some innovative ideas here, nestled in a comfortable nest of old favorites (and, yes, a few cash-grabs). Luckily for now they all look gorgeous.
And they get even bigger when you click ’em.
Toy Story OF TERROR!!!
A 30-minute special set for October 16th on ABC, this latest adventure with Woody, Buzz and the gang sees them on a road trip that gets diverted to a friendly motel. One of the toys goes missing, some spooky stuff happens, and Oh God, why is that man dressed up like his mom and what does he plan to do with that knife?
It’s unclear how many exclamation marks and caps locked words are in the official title, but it’s going to be a thrill to hear Randy Newman’s “When Somebody Stalked Me.”
The next princess to grace Disney’s pantheon of royalty, Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) has to stop her sister Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) from making everything so cold and icy. It looks like an appeal to tradition — complete with original songs — built with the best new tech available.
It hits theaters November 27th, and they’ve already released a teaser trailer for it where a goofy snowman fights a goofy reindeer. They were probably planning on comparisons to the Ice Age anyway and chose to go for broke.
Get a Horse!
Part of Disney’s future is its past. That’s probably safe to say on any given week, but it’s especially potent after D23’s presentation of this throwback that uses archival recordings of Walt Disney himself voicing Mickey.
After meeting Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow in “Epic Mickey,” this sounds like some modern antique fun. It plays in front of Frozen, and how cool is that?
Tinker Bell and The Pirate Fairy
The Fairies franchise has been aimed at an all-ages crowd since its inception, but there’s something incredibly alluring about Christina Hendricks doing the voice of a dust-keeper and Tom Hiddleston voicing a young Captain Hook. It’s a move that could wipe away the decidedly DTV feel of the series. It’s out Spring 2014.
And they’re definitely invested, because they’ve also got Legend of the NeverBeast, another Fairies adventure coming in 2015.
The Good Dinosaur
Once again, Disney and Pixar are playing What If in order to explore stories. This time, it’s a question of what would have happened if dinosaurs hadn’t been wiped out by that pesky asteroid.
The voice cast features Lucas Neff (Raising Hope) as Arlo the 70-foot-tall teenage Apatosaurus alongside Bill Hader, Judy Greer, Neil Patrick Harris, John Lithgow and Frances McDormand. So, yes, they did alright with the casting.
This one should hit theaters May 30, 2014, telling the story of the brave Arlo who has to go on a quest to restore peace to his community. Fortunately, he picks up a little human boy named Spot who obviously brings some vital shadow puppetry skills to the mix.
Fans who see it will also be treated to a new short featuring Mike and Sully partying down at Monsters University.
Planes: Fire & Rescue
Planned for July 18th, 2014 it looks like we won’t even have to wait a full year before seeing a sequel to Planes. Judging by the reviews, it sounds like this new one might fairly be called Planes 2: The Search for More Money.
Perhaps the most exhilarating potential return to form for Pixar, Pete Docter returns to the director’s chair to tell the story of a young girl and the emotions inside her head.
It won’t hit until June 19, 2015 — so far away — but fans at D23 were treated to a visit from the just-announced voice cast. Amy Poehler plays Joy, Lewis Black plays Anger, Mindy Kaling plays Disgust, Phyllis Smith plays Sadness and Bill Hader plays Fear (all of which are pretty easily identified in that image).
The story takes place both in San Francisco, where 11-year-old Riley has just moved with her parents, and inside Riley’s mind where her emotions enjoy the spotlight.
Further proof that they’re still not over sequels, Andrew Stanton is back in the water as the director of this addle-minded follow-up. Ellen Degeneres and Albert Brooks are also back, and they’re being joined by Diane Keaton as the voice of Dory’s mom, Eugene Levy as the voice of her dad, and Ty Burrell as the voice of a character named Bailey.
Apparently in the Pixar universe, fish get lost a lot. The movie is in theaters November 2015, making it a full 12 years since the original.
That’s a working title for now (it won’t hit until 2016), but no matter what they call it, it sounds fantastic. Here’s the synopsis:
“In the animal city of Zootopia, a fast-talking fox who’s trying to make it big goes on the run when he’s framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Zootopia’s top cop, a self-righteous rabbit, is hot on his tail, but when both become targets of a conspiracy, they’re forced to team up and discover even natural enemies can become best friends.”
Police bunnies and conspiracy theories. Can’t beat it.
So it’s definitely not all originals, but the mix at least feels a bit fresher. Maybe it’s because the threat of Finding Dory is a bit easier to handle than more Cars entries, or that another short film with the Toy Story crew sounds like fun (especially when they get to play around with horror tropes), or maybe it’s that some strong ideas are emerging to act as the light at the end of an unoriginal tunnel.
The bottom line is that we can look forward to at least one original concept from Disney/Pixar each year through 2016. If they keep up that balance, they can release as many Planes spin-offs as they want.