Pixar Animation Studios built its reputation in Hollywood on prestige, creating art through animation. During their golden age of content, Pixar crafting incredible storytelling that pushed the limits of imagination, and still continues to today. After the Disney purchase of Pixar, the studio began to focus heavily on sequels (and in Monsters University’s case, a prequel), but now according to longtime Pixar producer Mark Nielsen, everything in the studio pipeline after Toy Story 4 only consists of original movies, perhaps bringing Pixar back to its roots once again.
The news comes from a recent report by The Hollywood Reporter that shared the news that former Toy Story 4 writers Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation, The Office) and Will McCormack will be getting screenwriter credits for their early work on the film. Other credits will include Pixar veterans Josh Cooley (who is also directing the film), story supervisor Valerie Lapointe, Stephany Folsom, Martin Hynes, and Andrew Stanton (of Finding Nemo and WALL-E fame). Also noted by the report is that form Pixar creative chief officer John Lasseter will be receiving a story credit for his work when the film is released. The story that launched Toy Story 4 into production has changed dramatically since the film was announced in early 2014, changing from a romantic adventure between Woody and Bo Peep to the film that audiences will be treated to on June 21st, closing out Woody’s story in what appears to be the final theatrical Toy Story film. (For real this time).
Toy Story 4 is a by-product of a major change in leadership at Pixar, one that producer Mark Nielsen is anticipating, as showcased in the report by The Hollywood Reporter. According to Nielsen, so much about the culture and structure of Pixar Animation Studios has changed, but remains the same. Last December, co-founder Ed Catmull retired from the studio and Pixar veteran Pete Docter assumed the new role as Chief Creative Officer. Nielsen is hopeful for the new era led by Docter, and the changes already are evident. According to Nielsen in the THR report, “[h]e’s really looking out for the new voices and really loading up the development pool….It’s all original films after this one right now [Toy Story 4].”
Docter is the visionary behind hits at the studio like Monsters Inc., Up, and Inside Out, so if there was any passionate storyteller who would be right to helm the studio into this exciting new era, it would certainly be him. While Pixar’s films have never been anything short of wonderful, the opportunity for new ideas to take the helm at Pixar (like the recent Coco or Inside Out) is a perfect return to form for the artistry that Pixar would strive to deliver on an annual basis. Pixar is preparing to due its next original feature film, Onward, next year, and the future ahead seems to look nothing short of ambitious.
Are you excited for this new era of Pixar storytelling?