Since the release of Cars in 2006, the world has been spoiled with one Pixar film per year. That tradition will end in 2014.
Today, the Los Angeles Times announced that Pixar and parent company Disney have moved The Good Dinosaur from its planned May 30th, 2014 release to November 25th 2015. The film will be the second Pixar film in 2015, following that summer’s Inside Out (June 19th, 2015; dir. Pete Doctor) and will consequently push the Finding Nemo sequel, Finding Dory, to a June 17th, 2016 release.
Lots of moves to keep track of there, but all of it hopefully is a means to a better end. All of these films have had their reported share of production troubles. Inside Out struggled with narrative issues, Finding Dory is undergoing ending rewrites due to recent controversy caused by the documentary Blackfish and The Good Dinosaur is still director-less.
A couple of weeks ago, Bob Peterson, who came up with the story for Dinosaur, was taken off the project leaving co-director Peter Sohn to oversee pre-production duties. It has been speculated by fans that Sohn would take over the project completely as director, but the LA Times’ report can’t confirm that speculation. The report however does state that Brave‘s Mark Andrews, Toy Story 3 alumn Lee Unkrich and the big man himself, Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter are sharing the Dinosaur workload with Sohn.
I think it’s reasonable to assume that one of those big names (all three Oscar winners at the studio) could take over for Peterson as the production progresses.
If this sounds like bad press for Pixar, Disney and The Good Dinosaur, I should note that the studio has a history of replacing directors mid-production. Jan Pinkava and Brenda Chapman were both replaced by Brad Bird and Andrews on their respective projects, Ratatouille and Brave, and both films turned out to be very successful critically and commercially.
Pixar president Ed Catmull justifies the push-back with this simple notion:
“Nobody ever remembers the fact that you slipped a film, but they will remember a bad film. Our conclusion was that we were going to give the [dinosaur] film some more time.”
I’m inclined to agree with him that a little extra development and a Pixar-less 2014 are small prices to pay for a better film. Some fans and critics have noted that Pixar’s “one-a-year” model has taken a toll on their most recent features’ overall quality (Cars 2, Brave, Monsters University) and Catmull has said acknowledged as much and has inferred from the beginning of his tenure that a goal of his was to return Pixar to its uniform brilliance of its first fifteen years of feature filmmaking.