Pixar, after all, pioneered not only a new kind of 3D animation, it also set the standard for the emotional journey a great animated movie should be. The once independent studio is now owned by Disney, and if there’s one thing we know about Disney, it’s that it likes to stick with what works. (Pirates of the Carribean 5, anyone?)
So it’s little surprise that Pixar’s upcoming release schedule is full of sequels to already loved franchises. But don’t worry, Pixar fans, especially those of you who lament an era when Pixar was debuting stunningly original stories every other year. There is still one original title in the announced lineup, and years of quality from the studio make us optimistic that the sequels will still have that Pixar magic, even if they’re retreading familiar ground.
Cars 3: June 16, 2017While few adult Pixar fans rank the Cars franchise among their favorites, kids love it. You can expect the return of old favorites Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), and Sally Carrera (Bonnie Hunt), while John Lasseter (Cars and Cars 2) has turned over the reins to veteran storyboard artist and first-time director Brian Fee.
After visiting the World Grand Prix in Cars 2, Lightning McQueen is a veteran who knows his way around the track. But it takes a lot to keep up in competitive racing, and young Hispanic female car Cruz Ramirez is going to help McQueen find the magic and technology to compete against some of the young new models.
Coco: Nov. 22, 2017
Coco stands out as the only not-a-sequel in Pixar’s announced lineup. Though it was announced back in 2012, we don’t know a lot yet, perhaps in part because the project has already been criticized by some in the Latino community for cultural appropriation.
The film is supposed to be a Dia de Los Muertos story focusing on 12-year-old Miguel, a boy who reunites family members both living and dead to mark the Mexican holiday. You’ll recognize co-director Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3) who is joined by co-director and screenwriter Adrian Molina on the project.
The Incredibles 2: June 15, 2018Wait, wasn’t this Toy Story 4’s release date? Yes. Yes it was.
But on Oct. 26, Entertainment Weekly reported that The Incredibles 2 was moving up in Pixar’s lineup, while Toy Story 4 is getting bumped back a year. Director Brad Bird was the secret sauce behind both Ratatouille and the original Incredibles, both roundly praised as some of Pixar’s best work.
It’s hard to decipher what the swap means—whether the studio is finally eager to see a sequel to The Incredibles more than a decade after it debuted, if it’s looking to rush it off the calendar just to be rid of it. Or perhaps the issue is on the Toy Story 4 end of things. Either way, we’re still looking forward to revisiting our favorite animated superhero family.
Toy Story 4: June 21, 2019Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter is back in the director’s chair for the next installment of Toy Story. The franchise has set an absurdly high bar for itself, with both the original and Toy Story 2 sitting at a perfect 100 percent fresh Rotten Tomatoes rating and Toy Story 3 just a point behind at 99 percent. It can’t be overstated just how rare it is for a franchise to hit it out of the park at three consecutive at bats. It’s just not done.
While it felt like Toy Story 3 brought the series to a satisfying close in 2010, you can never have too much of a good thing, right? (Don’t answer that.) This installment will pick up where the last film left off, with Buzz, Woody, and the gang in the care of the little girl Bonnie, who got the toys as hand-me-downs from the college-bound Andy. It’s said to be a romantic comedy, with a plot surrounding Woody and Bo Peep.
The above movies are the only ones announced by Pixar, but the studio does have dates locked in for two yet unrevealed projects on March 13, 2020, and June 19, 2020. Pixar President Jim Morris has confirmed that both will be original concepts, not sequels.