Studio in Focus: Pixar

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Founded in 1986, Pixar is renowned for creating beloved animated films which viewers of all ages enjoy. To date, the studio has produced twenty feature-length films, twenty-one theatrical short films and thirty-three other shorts. It began as Lucasfilm’s Computer Division in 1979, but it wasn’t until this group was purchased in 1986 by Steve Jobs that it was named Pixar. It was also in 1986 that Pixar and Disney began collaborating on animations, and twenty years later Disney went on to buy Pixar in 2006. From Toy Story to Incredibles 2, Pixar boasts an impressive history of ground-breaking animation and huge success.

Toy Story, released in 1995, was a huge success both at the box office and critically, with many critics noting the technical innovation in its animation. Toy Story remains a much-loved film amongst the generation who grew up with the film, and it was so successful that, following A Bug’s Life in 1998, Pixar released the sequel, Toy Story 2, in 1999. The fact that the Pixar’s third is a sequel is testament to Toy Story’s success. The studio then branched out and created what would become classics for every child who grew up in the 2000s, including Monsters Inc. in 2001, Finding Nemo in 2003, and The Incredibles in 2004.

After the releases of Cars (2006), Ratatouille (2007), WALL-E (2008) and Up (2009), Pixar began to release a mix of original films and sequels (and a prequel, in the case of Monsters University) to their previous hits. In 2010, they released Toy Story 3, followed by Cars 2 in 2011. In fact, in the decade since Up’s release, Pixar have only released four original animations (Brave, Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur and Coco), whilst releasing six sequels in the same time span, including Finding Dory and Incredibles 2. Whilst these films were highly anticipated and mostly very successful, it is a shame to see this decline in original stories being produced by the studio. Whether it is to protect their box office figures, profit off of nostalgia, or both, it appears Pixar is playing a similar game to Disney, whose string of live-action remakes currently seems to be the studio’s top priority. Toy Story 4’s upcoming release this year begs the question: how many sequels is too many? Toy Story 3 ended on a very satisfactory note, so it remains to be seen whether Toy Story 4 has a viable and entertaining story, or if it is solely a cash grab.

Nonetheless, Pixar has played a crucial role in the vast progress made in animation techniques over the past twenty years, earning a staggering 19 Academy Awards. Upand Toy Story 3 are also the second and third of three animations ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, following Beauty and the Beast. Though it is easy to be sceptical of the number of remakes and sequels currently being produced in the film industry, especially where Disney is concerned, Pixar unarguably have a successful track record with both original films and sequels. Indeed, though the fourth Toy Story instalment is nearly here, there is also an original film in the works entitled Onward, slated for a 2020 release, so perhaps there is hope for Pixar to continue writing brilliant new storylines. There is something special about a Pixar film that separates it from films produced by Disney alone these days; the timeless animation style, the heart-warming narratives and the endearing characters who remain with us forever. I hope that Pixar will continue growing in one direction: ‘To Infinity and Beyond’.

Watch the trailer for Toy Story 4, in cinemas on 21 June 2019.

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Literature Executive 2018/19. Lover of Hobbits, theatre and tea.

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