Yes, it's true that Pixar has been making a lot of sequels and prequels to preexisting properties, and yes, it's something people love to complain about. But with the latest spin-off, last week's college-set prequel "Monsters University," looking like it will be one of the studio's most popular movies ever, we probably haven't seen the last of the follow-ups. However, in a recent interview with Buzzfeed, Pixar Animation Studios President Ed Catmull revealed that the studio plans on cutting back on the sequels in favor of emphasizing the original films.
"For artistic reasons ... it's really important that we do an original film a year," Catmull, who also serves as president of Walt Disney Animation, told Buzzfeed. "Every once in a while, we get a film where we want or people want to see something continuing in that world -- which is the rationale behind the sequel. They want those characters, which means we were successful with them. But if you keep doing that, then you aren't doing original films."
Catmull continued, "We're going to have an original film every year, then every other year have a sequel to something. That's the rough idea."
Despite the squeals of joy across the Internet, that's still a lot of sequels. The studio is taking a one-for-them, one-for-us approach, balancing out more experimental ideas like next summer's "The Good Dinosaur" and 2015's "Inside Out" (which takes place almost entirely inside the mind of a young girl) with surefire blockbusters like "Finding Dory," the follow-up to "Finding Nemo," and a fourth "Toy Story" film, which is already in quiet development. It's not a coincidence that "Inside Out" and "Finding Dory," set for release in the same year -- a Pixar first, are conversely the most problematic and guaranteed movies, possibly in the company's history.
The idea is that some of these new properties, like "The Good Dinosaur," will spawn future installments, and the Pixar brand, even while producing sequels, will constantly be refreshing and replenishing itself. It also works creatively, allowing younger, more inexperienced directors to take a shot with one of the sequels while the Pixar powerhouses continue to work on the more outré content.
There are a number of Pixar projects that have yet to be announced (Joss Whedon confederate Marti Noxon and "Safety Not Guaranteed" screenwriter Derek Connolly both have projects in development), and undoubtedly more than a few of them will be sequels. Disney has release dates for all of Pixar's movies until 2018, but most of them are "untitled" projects cloaked in secrecy.
As the "fewer sequels" headline makes the rounds online, it somewhat obfuscates Catmull's reinstatement of the company's commitment to follow-ups. It's also good to remember that even if it's not Pixar producing the movie, there could be spin-offs. Take, for example, this summer's "Planes." Even though the marketing suggests that it takes place "In the World Above 'Cars,'" unlike "Cars," it's not a Pixar movie -- and was initially supposed to be a direct-to-DVD release.