'Monsters University' Huge at Weekend Box Office. Will Pixar Become a Sequel Factory?
Coming to a theatre near you next June: UP 2. Now with more balloons!
Okay, so it's not a reality. But with the way Pixar is going, it very well could be. The studio's latest sequel, Monsters University, opened to $82.5 million, enjoying Pixar's second highest opening weekend ever. Finding Dory, the sequel to Finding Nemo, will be coming to theatres in November 2015, and The Incredibles director Brad Bird has voiced his hopes for making a sequel.
It would be easy to say that Pixar is simply following the growing Hollywood trend of pumping out sequels for profit. But the studio has always prided itself on its Hollywood outsider attitude and has mastered the art of the sequel: Toy Story 3 was both critically acclaimed and the highest-grossing animated film of all time.
But there's always been some tension between Pixar and its parent company, Disney. While Pixar focuses on making original, heartfelt movies, Disney focuses on the franchising and merchandising of these films — the company even created a studio, Circle 7 Animation, that solely existed to create sequels for Pixar films before they acquired the studio. The release of Cars 2 confirmed audiences' suspicions of Disney's hold over Pixar. The film's predecessor was a middling release (for Pixar, of course), and the sequel was the only Pixar film to not be nominated for an Oscar as well as the only Pixar film receive a "rotten" score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Despite the fact that both Cars projects were labors of love for Pixar founder John Lasseter, it tarnished the studio's reputation as a studio that produces highly original products. But adult audiences seem to forget something about Pixar: It makes movies for kids. Good movies, but ultimately, when kids love characters they want to see them again (and again, and again). And Pixar is certainly allowed to make a less-than-stellar movie every once in awhile, and the quality of the sequel isn't the fault of an evil corporation.
So, while not every Pixar sequel is the result of Disney using its corporate muscle, that's not to say that their working relationship doesn't play an important part in making them. The process of making an animated film is already hectic enough, and corporate pressure from Disney wouldn't exactly improve the quality of these sequels. It's clear that Pixar has the creative abilities to continue making quality sequels, but the question is: Are these sequels created to make kids fall in love again with those characters, or their plastic counterparts at Wal-Mart?