Pixar could have Toy Story 4 and Finding Nemo 2 in the pipeline
Rumours have been circulating over the last year or so that Pixar, the animation studio bought from founder Steve Jobs by the Disney Corporation in 2006, for a whopping $7.4billion, may have sequels for these animated greats in the pipeline. It makes business sense: Finding Nemo was listed as the 3rd highest grossing animated film in 2010 – seven years after its release – and was only knocked down a peg by the third instalment in the Toy Story franchise. Fans have had a more mixed reaction, worrying whether franchising these stories to death will ruin them for future generations. We explore further this idea below.
Back in 1995, computer-generated animation was limited largely to gaming and special effects, at least in terms of mainstream entertainment. Pixar changed all that with Toy Story, a remarkably mature family film that detailed the adventures of a group of toys that ‘came to life’ whenever their owner Andy wasn’t around. The major success of Toy Story was partly due to the novelty of seeing a computer animated film for the first time and, perhaps more crucially, the fact that it was a family film that both kids and adults could enjoy; a heartfelt story that was peppered with action, suspense, and plenty of belly laughs. It was so successful that it spawned two sequels: Toy Story 2, four years later in 1999; and Toy Story 3, eleven years after that.
All together the trilogy has received massive critical acclaim (film review website Rotten Tomatoes credits it as the highest-rated trilogy of all time, coming in with 99% positive reviews across all three films), several Academy Award nominations and two wins – Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song by Toy Story 3. Whether we’ll get to witness a fourth film or not is still very much up for debate. There are currently no concrete plans to start making Toy Story 4, and although Tom Hanks (who voices Woody in the first three films) made a comment about the studio doing as such last year, neither Disney nor Pixar have come forward to comment.
However, there are a series of shorts, Toy Story Toons, that pick up where the events of Toy Story 3 left off. And a Halloween TV special, Toy story of Terror, due for release next year. Some fans have reacted strongly to the news and feel that a fourth film would simply be Pixar wringing every last drop of profit from this franchise, but if they can entertain us as much as they did in the first three films, then why not?
Pixar proved once again just how good they are at storytelling in 2003, with Finding Nemo. The second highest grossing film of that year (number one was Lord of the Rings: The Return of The King), Finding Nemo has earned nearly $1billion worldwide as of 2012. It also won Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, and was nominated for Best Original Score. The recent 3D re-release reignited popularity and gave fans the chance to experience the film in an entirely new way.
The buzz about the sequel is a little more interesting here, as it was announced in September that Pixar would be going ahead with Finding Nemo 2. Creator Andrew Stanton had initially denied that anything was going on when rumours surfaced in July, but after John Carter, his live action directorial debut, performed shamefully at the box office, Disney bumped the idea up into production and it has been given a release date of 2016 – though this is by no means a guarantee it will go ahead. This decision has conjured up a groan or two from fans and critics alike, as it suggests that it will be a money-making exercise rather than a chance to come up with an original idea. Pixar has traditionally been against making sequels for the sake of it and have always focussed more on making every film the best it can be. However, as they are now controlled by Disney – who only provided marketing and distribution at the time of the first films’ release – those days may be over.
The story of Finding Nemo seems to lend itself less to the idea of a sequel, whereas Toy Story could potentially gain the fandom of yet another generation of children (if Pixar keeps their heads about them). So it almost seems like the wrong film has been given the green light for production. It is by no means far-fetched to expect to see both films grace cinema screens in the near future though, as Pixar can be relied upon to create emotive and inspiring films while Disney can be relied upon to capitalise on these as much as possible.
Watch an episode of Toy Story Toons – Small Fry here: