Thursday, November 1, 2018

If I Were Disney CEO Part 27 - PIXAR Animation Studios

"Everything I do and everything Pixar does is based on a simple rule:  Quality is the best business plan, period."
John Lasseter

"Working at Pixar, you learn the really honest, hard way of making a great movie, which is to surround yourself with people who are much smarter than you, much more talented than you, and incite constructive criticism; you'll get a much better movie out of it."
Andrew Stanton

"I think Pixar's done an amazing job integrating art and science.  They really get this idea that art and engineering work side by side."
Joe Gebbia

"In Hollywood, they think drawn animation doesn't work anymore, computers are the way.  They forget that the reason computers are the way is that Pixar makes good movies.  So everybody tries to copy Pixar.  They're relying too much on the technology and not enough on the artists."
Tim Burton

"There are differences between PIXAR and Disney. If you reduced PIXAR to a phrase it would be: 'Wouldn't it be cool if?'  Like a kid was looking at their toy: What if the toy could talk? All their films are like this."
Glen Keane

Since the initial Toy Story film in 1995, PIXAR has proven to be one of Disney's most successful and profitable partnerships and sub-divisions.  After an initial partnership that produced the Toy Story 1 and 2, A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Cars films, Disney acquired PIXAR for $7.4 billion dollars in 2006.  Through the agreement that has kept PIXAR a separate entity, but allowed for collaboration with the Disney studios, both companies have benefited.  PIXAR has become one of the most trusted brands in film.  Disney through implementation of the Disney Story Trust has started producing higher quality films and has regained some of its lost reputation.  PIXAR's brand of management has even begun to influence broader business communities, focusing on concept's like the Brain Trust or "note day."

Accordingly, the goals for PIXAR fall much more in line with keeping a company that is working on the right track.

Primary Goals for the Division:
  • Keep developing Computer Generated Animation - PIXAR should be at the forefront of developments in Computer Generated Animation.  Each film should be seeking to present a new innovation in the technology and art form.  One of these innovations will be a seamless integration of live action and PIXAR style computer generated imagery, a la a PIXAR Mary Poppins-esque movie.  But the focus should be animation.
  • Keep the shorts unique - The shorts before the PIXAR films have become a big part of the presentation.  These theatrical shorts should all present new characters and ideas and should lean more toward the LOU and Bao side, over new Toy Story Toons or Cars Toons.  The latter can and should be developed, but would be prime offerings for television specials and streaming content.
  • Tone down the sequels - While generally the PIXAR sequels have maintained a certain level of quality and there are appropriate universes for further expansion, the best PIXAR films have been the ones that pushed into something new.  As good as Toy Story 4 may be, I'm more eagerly awaiting the suburban fantasy movie that they have teased on the horizon. These new films are the ones that make PIXAR the juggernaut that it is today.
  • Continue to look to inspirations worldwide - On the heels of Coco and the Bao short for that matter, PIXAR should be looking to a wide variety of international voices for their "Wouldn't it be cool if?" inspiration.  To share in those vibrant stories in a way that presents the emotional core to the audience in the way the best PIXAR movies do.
  • Continue to break the rules - No one would have ever expected a near silent movie starring a singular robot would work, but WALL-E did.  No one would have thought that the most emotional 10 minutes of film in 2009 would be a perfectly scored but otherwise silent montage of a couple growing old together, but it was.  PIXAR must keep taking all preconceived notions about what films should be and keep showing us what they can be. 
  • Ground it all in emotion - At the heart of every PIXAR success is this idea: the film is only as good as the emotional response that it can elicit.  This means the characters' journeys must be grounded in truth and emotional honesty, whether they be toys, fish, cars, or emotions themselves.  As long as PIXAR keeps the emotional focus of the story at their core, they will continue to succeed.
  • Keep John Ratzenberger employed - He's the PIXAR good luck charm.  As long as he's alive and wants to do so, he should have a role in every PIXAR film.
With that, I want to now turn to a small specific film slate I envision for PIXAR Animation Studios.
  • Toy Story 4 - it's far enough in production it needs to be finished.  If there are to be future Toy Story films beyond this one, they should focus on complete new toys.  They've hit on a lot of great metaphors in the Toy Story series like the "new toy" syndrome, the collector mentality versus the play mentality, and passing on toys to new homes.  The one childhood metaphor I could see exploring would be the "too cool" for toys dichotomy, where someone wants to continue to be a kid and play, but desperately wants to be seen as cool as well.
  • Monsters, Inc. sequel, Monsters Studios - this time it should be a true sequel focusing on the idea "what happens when you get too old to believe in monsters under the bed?Monsters, Inc. has become a movie studio focusing on comedies to make kids laugh and get that energy.  Sulley misses Boo and wants to see her, but discovers she grown a lot since he last saw her. Can she still see Monsters anymore?  If done right, could be a tear-jerker.
  • Newt - an abandoned PIXAR project about the last two blue footed newts on earth that cannot get along with each other.  Shelved likely because of a similarity to Rio.  I think it's something that could be revived and fine tuned to find a new angle to the story. 
  • A Japanese Studio Ghibli-inspired kawaii - the love of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki among PIXAR is well known.  I would love to see a PIXAR computer animated film that can mimic the anime look and explore that culture.
  • A Bollywood inspired masala film - After the success of Coco, a similar styled Indian musical would be appropriate.  This one might could be PIXAR's firs straightforward love story.
  • Whatever other crazy ideas the brain trust can come up with - I'm in.  

As always, thank you for reading. Next in the series, Marvel Studios.

No comments:

Post a Comment