In 1995, a little-known animation studio called Pixar wowed audiences, made history, and changed the world of animation with the release of Toy Story, the first ever computer-animated movie. That movie has stood the test of time not only because it was the first of its kind, but because it is also a great achievement in story and story telling. After that, they released A Bug’s Life, which unfortunately came out the same year as Antz, Dreamworks’ first CG animate film and the movie most people think is superior to the other. However, it was not until 1999 with the release of Toy Story 2 came out that Pixar became a studio to watch out for because this was the first animated sequel to be critically and financially successful, plus it took on a deeper subject and had greater character development.
Since then, Pixar has released great movie after great movie (with the only stumble being Cars, but more on that soon). These movie were not just aimed at children, but at everyone. Some of their stories are ambitious and well meaning, so they have never had a problem in the story department Plus, every Pixar movie has been nominated for at least one Academy Award, winning five of the ten awards awarded so far for best animated feature, and earning the second Best Picture nomination for an animated film. All of this can be credited with to their strong stories
Yet, as ambitious and great as these movies can be, I feel that Pixar is capable of doing more that family movies. Their future movies include this year’s Toy Story 3, my most anticipated movie of the year. For 2011 they have Cars 2 and Bear and the Bow, a movie that little is known about other than it is about a mother-daughter releationship, but early footage has receive great acclaim. From then the have Newt, a movie about a species of the verge of extinction and the two of their kind that have the duty to repopulate the world, but word has it that that project has been scrapped. Then there is also word that Pete Docter is working on a sequel to Monsters, Inc.
So you see, they are sticking to a formula that works, and as long they have great stories, they will work. I don’t mind the sequels since they have to please their investors if they want to continue living by their standards of “story first,” but I do wish they would take on other things. For example, how about doing a 2D animated film? I know Disney is trying to make a comeback in that department, but that should not stop them. Maybe their upcoming short Day & Night is a test for that. Also, since Disney now owns Marvel Comics, how about using one of their lesser known character for a movie. Ant-Man would be perfect if Edgar Wright wasn’t so keen on making a serious live-action feature. Why don’t they try to convince him to work with them making the movie.
Speaking of that, how about reaching out to directors that work outside of animation? Terry Gilliam has said that he would love to make a film with Pixar. Can you imagine a Gilliam-Pixar film? After all, he does have some experience with animation. Or how about Wes Anderson? He made a successful jump to animation, so maybe they could try to work with him in the future after he had made a couple more live-action movies. My point is that since the likes of Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton are sort of leaving Pixar to pursue greater career opportunities, people have to be brought from outside of the Pixar family to get some refreshing ideas and to take on genres that they have never taken on before.
One genre that I think they could take on is westerns. It doesn’t have to be R-rated or anything (since its animation I don’t think having bloody shoot-outs would garner that rating just like Beowulf got a PG-13 rating), and it can have some funny sidekicks, but it would be awesome to see an animated western. Or they could make a politically-charged comedy like Persepolis. I don’t think the world is quite ready to see Pixar making something like Waltz With Bashir, but something like Persepolis would be perfect. They could also take on a book franchise. The “Books of Ember” would have been perfect for them, but alas FOX took them and treated them like trash. They could try to get the rights to “A Series of Unfortunate Events” but I doubt that could happen even in Paramount doesn’t plan to revisit them.
Pixar is great at what it does, which is why they are the best animation studio today. If they continue to do what they are doing now it would be alright, but it will eventually get as old as Dreamworks Animation and pop-culture references. This is the reason why they have to start planning for the future now so that in a few years the new face of Pixar can be revealed and impact animation once again.