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Since it’s inception in the 70s, we have indulged in the beauty of Pixar. Film after film and short after short, the greatness never seemed to end. Then last summer the studio hit a wall with the flop of Cars 2. With any other studio a flop would be accepted, even expected, but after a near-perfect streak, the future looked dark for Pixar. This summer got a little better for the studio once the respectable hit of Brave hit theaters. Brave marked a number of Pixar firsts yet at the same time seemed like safe territory. While it may be an overstatement to say that Pixar is going downhill, it is safe to say that the studio that completely altered our perceptions of animation may not be as infallible as we once thought.
For years and years, Pixar was unstoppable as their films were adored by every type of moviegoer. So what went wrong? Well it seems the answer may be Disney.
Disney, the studio that gave Pixar a new life, may be suffocating the independent animators with their oppressive marketing.
When you see a Disney movie, you know that you are watching a Disney movie. Whether it be the signature animal sidekick or the upbeat musical numbers, the Disney mark can be seen a mile away. These signs are so very powerful that they seemed to even sneak their way into Brave. While Merida (the film’s protagonist) can hardly be considered a Disney princess, the film does seem to fit in the “princess” mold. Is this mere coincidence or is is the beginning of a fuzing of the two animation studios? Well, this remains to be seen but it won’t stop me from doing some hypothesizing.
Since Pixar was bought up by Disney, Pixar has been able to keep doing what they do: making innovative and visually stunning films that raise the bar for animators everywhere. From Toy Story to Up, the original ideas were helmed by Pixar. Yet now Brave is the first film from Pixar to be proposed by Disney. All of the Pixar films (excluding sequels) prior to Brave were planned out before Disney bought the studio. However, now as the original stories are all gone, it seems Disney is playing a much more prominent role in the studio’s filmmaking.
The similarities between Brave and any Disney movie are obvious, and while Disney films are nothing to turn your nose up at, they still do not compare to Pixar. No one else could create a robot love story and make it work. It is because of this unwavering bravery and creative thinking that Pixar has stood out. Yet as Disney gains a firmer grip on the studio, Pixar could go soft. Let us hope that the adventurous spirit that made us all fall in love with Pixar does not begin to fleet.
Up next for Pixar is Monsters University, the prequel to much beloved Monsters, Inc. We all loved the 2003 film but a prequel just seems a little too Hollywood-esque and not enough Pixar-esque. Then there is also the announcements of a Toy Story 4 being made along with a Finding Nemo 2. Any original ideas, you may ask. Well the only official statement of an original film came this past April with the announcement of a film centered on the Meixcan holiday, Dia de los Muertos. With three out of the four next projects being prequels/sequels, it does not seem that the creative juices are flowing over at Pixar. But hey! Pixar has always had a way of surprising us so maybe they will continue the trend and prove our notions about sequels wrong.
Whether the upcoming films can live up to the lofty Pixar standards is up in the air, but one thing is for sure and that is that I will still be giddy each time one hits theaters. The films have branched out from my childhood and are now an important part of my adulthood. I will always love their films as will most of the world. Even if its future isn’t the brightest, I have the highest hopes for Pixar and cannot wait to sit in the theater for their next film.