Pixar: We're nothing but a sequel machine now


Pixar just announced that every hit of yesteryear is being considered for a reboot, with Finding Nemo and The Incredibles regarded as particularly strong candidates for new titles.

Pixar aims to make three movies every two years -- historically it's been closer to one a year -- with every other title a sequel or spinoff and the rest standalone concepts or potential seeds for new franchises.

Pixar is confident enough in its sequels that it's giving Inside Out 2 a run of about 100 days in theaters, an extraordinarily generous amount of breathing room in the Age of Streaming.

In retreading characters and plotlines that have worked for Pixar in the past, the studio is breaking from a strategy, formulated about a decade ago, of favoring new ideas.

Its first film of 2024 was supposed to be an original: Elio, directed by Coco writer Adrian Molina, about a boy who becomes Earth's intergalactic ambassador.

But the writers' and actors' strikes forced Disney to push back Elio's release to 2025.

Pixas blames the pandemic for everything. The pandemic hit in January 2020. By summer 2021, most restrictions had been lifted.

Did Pixar alter its films to make them "streaming acceptable"? No, although some news articles imply they did.

Pixar is blaming the public: "Audiences are no longer used to going to the theater, and the pandemic taught them to only like super-action-thriller blockbusters, not the gentle and individualist stories we tell."

REALLY? Wow. If audiences turned on movie theaters and Pixar that fast, then maybe audiences didn't really like movie theaters and Pixar films to begin with.

Pixar blames gremlins for altering its movies for streaming

Pixar laid off 175 people in May 2024. That's in addition to 175 cuts made in 2023. That's 25 percent of its workforce in two years.

Pixar's first out-right bomb at the box office was 2019's Onward.

Pixar executives are claiming that Soul (2020), Luca (2021), and Turning Red (2022) were all altered in order to put them on the Disney+ streaming site during the pandemic. Execs say that the studio "lost its touch" and forgot how to craft movies for theaters. That is why Lightyear (2022) did so poorly.

The problem here is that Soul was 90 percent finished and Luca 75 percent finished when the pandemic hit. Turning Red was 50 percent finished, but much of what was left was rendering and polishing. (The soundtrack was recorded in May 2020, which indicates a near-complete film.)

Elemental was barely affected by the pandemic. It began pre-production in 2016, and its story was locked down by May 2020. The long, four-year period from then to release was largely due to the film's animation requirements. Luca required 55,000 CPU cores, while Elemental needed 151,0000. The extra hundred thousand cores had to be purchased, refined, trained, and put in place.

Truth is, it's highly unlikely Pixar did anything to alter their films for Disney+.

If there's a culprit, look to Pixar's endless regurgitation of sequels (which it once abjured) and to Pixar CEO Pete Docter's 2018 decision to emphasize "personal, individual stories" over adventure.

Getting rid of owies

I had a half-hour talk with my vet this week about Ellie Mae's joint problem. We talked steroids, painkillers, and other things. But in terms of cost and effectiveness, we decided on Librela. It's a monoclonal anti-body injection. It reduces nerve growth factor (NGF), a neurotrophin that activates neurons to transmit pain signals from the peripheral to the central nervous system.

It's been in use in Europe for four years, and was approved in the U.S. in January 2024.