With the release of “Inside Out” and “The Good Dinosaur” last year and “Finding Dory” slated for release later in 2016, I have to ask if Pixar is dying.
Pixar has been a major player in filmmaking for the past two decades, releasing sixteen movies—most of which did well at the box office, received critical acclaim and or Oscar nominations—and it continues to be to this day. By acknowledging these facts, I am sure there are a number of people reading this and saying to themselves, “If they’re still doing well commercially and critically, how can they be dying?” Well, I believe that the death of Pixar is being forewarned from its clear decline in quality, not from a commercial and critical standpoint.
While it is debatable at what point Pixar began to fall, it is safe to say that they have been slowly going down at the very least since the release of “Toy Story 3” back in 2010. Of “Toy Story 3” and the five other movies Pixar has released over the past five and a half years, three of them have been continuations to older movies, whether they be sequels or a prequel. So, of half their new material, three of them were continuations that no one had really been asking for. This leaves Pixar with only three new original ideas: “Brave,” “Inside Out,” and “The Good Dinosaur.”
Even though Pixar is still making movies based on original ideas and not just cynical, middle of the road, cash-grabs based on their earlier successes, these have been arguably among Pixar’s worst movies. “Brave” was sloppily written. “Inside Out” had serious pacing issues. “The Good Dinosaur” could barely do anything competently. So, at their best, Pixar has been making average franchise continuations and at their worst, what can only be described as messes. To make matters worse is that of the five announced movies Pixar has slated for release between now and 2019, four of them are sequels to their past hits. I am not saying there is anything necessarily wrong with sequels, but I am saying that going with so many sequels is a risk. Sooner or later, people will get tired of seeing the same familiar things over and over again and demand something new. Then, since the new material is actually worse than the sequels, moviegoers will happily take their money and see something else.
The problem is that Pixar has been around for so long and made so many hits that they can survive for an extended period of time based on viewer’s nostalgia. This can work, but it won’t last, as Pixar is not the only major player when it comes to family-oriented animated films. In the early 21st century, Disney had hit a dry spell and Dreamworks wasn’t a major player, leaving Pixar to do whatever it wanted. Now that we’re in 2016, Disney has bounced back to what some are calling their second ‘Disney Renaissance’ period, Dreamworks has proven that it’s capable of producing quality work, and both have improved when it comes to the animation quality to easily rival Pixar.
I know there are probably still people thinking that Pixar is far from dying because of the commercial success of their movies. It is true that Pixar has managed to gross more than enough money each time to pay off its budget. The problem with that is with its latest movie, “The Good Dinosaur,” it only managed to gross ninety million dollars more than the film’s budget, which is a drastic drop from all of Pixar’s other movies. This could just be an anomaly and people simply weren’t interested in the movie, or it could be a sign that people are starting to get tired of Pixar.
If Pixar keeps going this route, it will crash and burn. It’s inevitable. If the studio wishes to avoid this, they’ll need to stop relying on nostalgia and the Pixar brand name to keep people coming back and instead go back to making quality film productions that will make people remember why they loved the studio’s creations in the first place. Pixar is dying, but if the people in charge do what needs to be done, it can be salvaged.