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With “Toy Story 3,” “Cars 2” and “Monsters, Inc. 2” now in the works, why no “Incredibles 2” ?

With “Toy Story 3,” “Cars 2” and “Monsters, Inc. 2” now in the works, why no “Incredibles 2” ?

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Earlier this week, it was kind of ironic that – in a headline that talked up how well “Up” was doing at the domestic box office – Variety mentioned “The Incredibles.”

Disney Pixar's Incredibles
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc and Pixar Animation Studios.
All Rights Reserved

“Ironic how?,” you ask. Well, in a time where this Emeryville-based animation studio is well into production on “Toy Story 3” & “Cars 2” (And – very quietly – begun initial development on “Monsters, Inc. 2”), what’s the one Pixar sequel that isn’t in the works right now? “The Incredibles 2”

“And why is that?,” you ask. Well – to answer that question – you have to understand how the creative culture works up there in Emeryville. Pixar truly is a director-driven animation studio. Which means that no sequel can be put into production unless the director of the first film gives the thumbs-up and/or is on board in some sort of creative capacity on that project.

Which is why it really isn’t a coincidence that the sequels that were initially greenlit after The Walt Disney Company acquired Pixar Animation Studios back in 2006 were based on John Lasseter films. While John won’t actually be directing either of these follow-ups (Lee Unkrich is riding herd on “Toy Story 3,” while Brad Lewis is behind the wheel on “Cars 2”), Lasseter has been very hands-on. As chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, John has been heavily involved in all phases of production of these two movies. Signing off on everything from the initial story ideas to the vocal casting of new characters.

Disney Pixar Cars 2 Logo
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc and Pixar Animation Studios.
All Rights Reserved

And as for “Monsters, Inc. 2” … While it’s not yet certain whether Pete Docter will actually be directing this sequel or just serving as the project’s producer, he too reportedly plans on being very hands-on when it comes to the further adventures of Mike & Sulley.

Whereas Brad Bird … In a 2007 interview with the Associated Press, Bird admitted that he’s actively thought about an “Incredibles” sequel:

“I love the world. I love the characters, and if I could come with a story that was as good or better than the original, I'd go there in a second. I have pieces of things that I would love to see in a sequel. But I haven't got them all together yet.  And I certainly wouldn't want to come out there with something that is less than the original.”

Brad Bird Director of Pixar's Incredibles
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc and Pixar Animation Studios. All Rights Reserved

And because Brad – to date – hasn’t been able to come up with a workable concept for an “Incredibles” sequel, there’s been no real work done on a follow-up film.

Of course, some Emeryville insiders have suggested that the main reason that “The Incredibles 2” isn’t in the works is that Brad just doesn’t like sequels. I mean – back when he was doing press for "Ratatouille” – Bird was pretty clear about how he felt. Again – while being interviewed by the AP in 2007 – this Academy Award-winner said:

“Sequels are not part of the business plan at Pixar. It's all about the filmmakers being passionate about going somewhere.”

So now that sequels have become a key component of Pixar’s overall business strategy … Well, that’s gotta be rubbing Brad the wrong way.

1906 Earthquake

Mind you, Disney veterans that I spoke with at this year’s Licensing Show in Las Vegas said that once Bird gets “1906” under his belt he’ll most likely revisit the idea of doing an “Incredibles” sequel. And given that Pixar’s first live-action film – Andrew Stanton’s “John Carter of Mars” – is gearing up to begin shooting in Utah this November, it’s only a matter of time now ‘til production of Brad’s Great San Francisco Earthquake movie finally gets underway.

Which brings us to the other great unasked question that’s currently floating around in the Pixar-related ether: After Stanton & Bird have dabbled in live-action, is it really going to be possible to persuade these two talented fillmakers to return to animation? Because (to be blunt here), if there’s one movie that Disney’s board of directors would like to see go into production more than “The Incredibles 2,” that would be a follow-up to Andrew’s 2003 hit, “Finding Nemo.”

But – again – that ain’t happening unless Stanton signs off on a sequel and/or takes an active part in the development of a new “Nemo” movie. After all, that’s just the Pixar way.

Finding Nemo Dorr
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc and Pixar Animation Studios. All Rights Reserved

So how do you folks feel about this? Me personally, I find it refreshing that -- in an age where Hollywood seems to churn out nothing but sequels – what’s stalling production of a Pixar follow-up film isn’t the details of the deal (i.e. who gets what cut of the profits). But – rather – can we come up with a story that’s actually worthy of the first movie?

Your thoughts?

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  • It's also been postulated that Bird may be holding Incredibles 2 over Disney's head in order to secure funding for 1906.  Nemo is a great stand alone movie.  The very title makes the idea of a sequel silly.

    What do I think of Pixar's policy and Disney's desire for more sequels?  Disney should be harboring more talent and letting them pursue their own interests.  Let Pixar be Pixar!  I mean the only successful movie Disney has put out all year was about an old man's trip to South America with an eight year old.  No executive in a million years would've come up with that!  How about more original ideas (that strike had to hurt) and less remakes and longing for sequels?

    Oh, and way to tell us something we haven't already heard Jim.  I look forward to hearing about the Space Mountain refurb in the future.

  • Pixar have run out of ideas.

    'UP' is the last thing in their canon, they've come to the end of their renaissance just like Disney did in the 1990s.  Once the high profile sequels are out of the way, they can get on with the straight to DVD sequels.  And then after that possibly a TV series...

  • You can't top pigs with pigs.

    Leave 'em wanting more.

    A concept Hollywood, and now Pixar, just doesn't understand.

  • I blame all this sequel-ism on Katzenberg! (since Eisner isn't around, JK is the best target for this). DW comes out and announces a sequel even before the original finishes its opening weekend. But, this business model is very successful for them....right now. It's impossible for other studios to ignore this fact.

    But, Pixar (and Disney for that matter) need to focus on good films. Witch Mountain might look like a sequel is on its way, but it could have been much more of a movie. Bolt was very good, but a sequel...no.

    Pixar has some movies that just don't ever need a sequel. But they have a few that have worlds that can be further explored. UP2 would be NO GOOD. Toy Story - sure, there's a whole toy-based world to explore. As long as they don't make the same movie 3 or 4 times (like DW) for the sequels, it could work. But don't make a sequel to every successful movie.

  • The irony is that Incredibles is one of the few universes that just BEGS for a sequel.  The new comic from Mark Waid is superb and there's a lot of room to grow and be creative with those characters.  Not that it would be easy mind you.  I mean how do you follow the greatest comic book movie ever?

    I think Toy Story 3 and Cars 2 are just as much about cementing Pixar's control and influence within the company as anything else.  Greenlighting Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Up just HAD to of taken a little bit out of their sails and maybe a couple of super popular sequels that perform well will make things better again.  Although Up seems to be helping with that as well.

    Pixar wants Disney to let artists run things and in order to do that they have to keep things looking great.  Keep in mind that Pixar DOES have two original movies on its slate for the next three years as well.  Bear and the Bow and Newt.  Should be good times for the lamp.

  • Much as I'd like to, I can't really blame sequelitis just on Jeff Katzenberg. It's the way all the studios operate these days now that the movie industry's been corporatized. With the pressure to continue to get big numbers to keep up the stock price, nobody really wants to risk spending the money on a big-budget movie unless it's got a guaranteed audience thanks to familiarity (sequels, established brands) or nostalgia (all the re-dos of old TV shows and movies). Considering the financial climate these days, we should be glad were seeing any movies with original concepts - live-action or animated - from the major studios.  

  • We're also forgetting that Hollywood is still recovering from the writer's strike.  So even if it looks like nothing original is coming out this year or next things could get better in the future...  Or until right before the next strike...  

    Wouldn't it be great if the studios just offered a fair deal in the first place so strikes wouldn't happen?

  • As a huge Pixar fan all of these sequels truly frighten me. Their streak has been so great for so long that one of the newest games in critical circles is to play "When will Pixar finally mess up." Sad to say that this run of old ideas points to that day coming quickly. To be fair, I think Toy Story 2 is not only better than Toy Story, it might be the greatest sequel ever created. But to test the fates again with a third installment, and to tack even more story onto what is already Pixar's weakest release (Cars), the well simply can't be that deep, even at Pixar.

  • Pschnebs...I have to kindly disagree. The movie industry is corporatized "these days"? It wasn't corporate 15 years ago when Toy Story 1 came out? The allure of Pixar has always been that in the face of corporate greed masters they were always able to find a balance between art and blockbuster. And Tuckenie...the writer's strike meant nothing could be written. Even a sequel to an already established franchise would require a new script, so I don't think it's fair to blame this run of sequels on that.

  • Pixar has had 10 movies over the course of 14 years and they have ONE sequel and TWO in the pipeline (maybe a 3rd). Why is this such a problem?!?! By the time they are done with these sequels, they will have 14-15 movies and 4 sequels. That is less than 25% of their movies over the course of 17 YEARS!!

    For the CARS haters out there. The reason that CARS did poorly at the box office is because it was Pixar's lowest performer worldwide. CARS is #5 domestically, but #8 in foreign (only better than Bugs Life and Toy Story which are more than 10 years old {inflation!}).

    CARS 2 is supposed to fix that since they are supposed to be leaving the US and going overseas. It should have a good story, but it should also broaden it's appeal (and hopefully sell more toys). Plus, I think the CARS universe has ALOT more stories to tell.

    After all, Disney/Pixar is not a charity, but a profit making enterprise. Disney/Pixar can't continue doing ANYTHING (new stories, new attractions, new theme parks, etc) UNLESS they make money.

  • jables...  The strike meant stuff also had to be written FASTER.  That meant scripts that could have used more time had to be rushed out in more condition.  See Wolverine and Terminator Salvation for examples.  Even Star Trek, JJ Abrams is on the record saying he was dissatisfied with the script and the movie would've been better if they had the time to finish rewriting.  In that kind of rushed situation it's almost impossible to get anything original of real quality greenlit.

    Plus jedited is right.  I really think the fear of Pixar sequels is not well thought out.  These guys just made quality blockbusters out of a cooking rat, a non verbal robot, and an old man playing with balloons.  And you're worried about CARS 2?!  Really??!!  I mean give them some credit already...  Sheesh...

  • I don't know about an Incredibles 2 movie. Out of all of Pixar's properties this one screams television series.

    A Finding Nemo sequel? What would the title of that one be, "Finding Nemo 2, Caught Again". I find most of Pixar's movies quite fulfilling, I would rather they spend their energies on new properties. I still find the idea of the Toy Story sequels unappealing, regardless of the quality.

    One I hope they don't sequelize is Wall-e, that story was very complete.

  • I agree with Atemylunch. Incredibles screams TV series. I personally thought Buzz Lightyear of Star Command wasn't that bad of a series. I actually think there needs to be more familiar Disney characters on Disney Channel.

  • I've been asking the same questions for years, especially since the first one ended with an intro to a sequel (Rise of the Underminer).

    As long as Nemo's sequel isn't "Escape from the Gulf Oil Slick".

  • I'm glad to hear that Brad Bird still has a head on his shoulders.  

    Finding Nemo 2???  How many times can that guy get lost without boring audiences?  Cars 2?  Wasn't the first one considered the "worst" Pixar movie ever made?  (Not me, by the way.  I liked it better than Nemo, Wall-E and Up combined.)

    No matter how you look at it, Pixar HAS gone back on their philosophy of creativity before profit.    

    These guys need to have another lunch meeting, like back in 1995.

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