Disney is currently ramping up for the release of Pixar's newest animated movie, Inside Out — and if the reviews coming out of Cannes (where the film just premiered) are any indication, it's going to be a must-see. "Could Inside Out be Pixar’s best movie?" asks Variety's Pete Debruge in his piece on the film, "in terms of its ambitious underlying concept...“Inside Out” blows the others away, going beyond the screen to become something audiences will carry around for the rest of their days." Now, Disney took the opportunity of this glowing reception to unveil new updates about Disney/Pixar's current slate of upcoming films: three Pixar projects and two classic-Disney animated features.
John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation ever since the latter bought the former in 2006, is effusively optimistic about both studios' forthcoming movies. Popular opinion holds that Pixar has lost its aura of invincibility of late, with a few lackluster films in a row: 2011 sequel Cars 2, and 2013 prequel Monsters University. (Lackluster critically-speaking, anyway; both films were still box office successes.)
Those disappointments were followed in 2014 by... well, nothing. (It was the first calendar year without a Pixar release since 2005.) But, the time off seems to have helped the studio regain its footing — and if anyone can get Pixar back on track, its Lasseter, who turned Walt Disney around from its post-Golden Age lull and started cranking out hit after hit (including Oscar-winning films like Frozen and Big Hero 6).
Here are the most exciting tidbits about each of Disney/Pixar's upcoming films that Lasseter announced at Cannes this Wednesday morning:
Inside Out (June 19, 2015)
Before Lasseter's two-hour presentation, Pixar unveiled its newest film earlier this week. Reviews were universally rapturous (the movie is currently sitting pretty at 100% on RottenTomatoes.com): "Inside Out has to be one the most conceptually trippy films ever made as a PG-rated popcorn picture for the general public," said The Hollywood Reporter 's Todd McCarthy. "Inside Out is simply one of Pixar's most creative films ever," claims HitFix 's Gregory Ellwood. "Inside Out is a bittersweet look at childhood’s end that might be Pixar’s most layered and complex film since Ratatouille," states ComingSoon.net 's Edward Douglas.
The Good Dinosaur (Nov. 25, 2015)
Pixar is making up for not releasing a movie last year by releasing two movies in the same year for the first time in the studio's history. The plot of this film will center on a teenage Apatosaur named Arlo who makes friends with a little caveman named Spot. "This is a boy and a dog story, but the roles are reversed,” explains Lasseter. “Arlo, the dinosaur, is the boy in the story and Spot is the dog." The animation that was screened — including a scene of the two heroes chasing fireflies through a forest — was supposedly incredible, with Deadline 's Nancy Tartaglione describing how "two French women sitting near me alternately gasped and whispered 'extraordinaire' and 'incroyable' when amazingly lifelike close-ups of CGI foliage were shown."
Zootopia (Mar. 4, 2016)
This Disney movie takes place in world entirely populated by animals who walk, talk, and use technology just like humans. Described as Wind In The Willows-esque, Zootopia will tell the story of a rabbit (voiced by Once Upon A Time's Ginnifer Goodwin) — the first of her kind to join the police force — who must join forces with a fox (voiced by Jason Bateman) to solve a "missing mammal" case. The audience's favorite scene that Lasseter screened for them involved the rabbit and the fox going to the DMV — where they find that every desk is manned by a literal sloth.
Finding Dory (June 17, 2016)
Even though Finding Nemo came out all the way back in 2003, this Pixar sequel will pick up on six months after the event of that film, when Dory goes on an adventure to find her parents, voiced by Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy. The obstacles she'll find along the way this time include a giant squid, a kelp forest, shipping containers falling off of boats, and a whale-shark named Destiny.
Moana (Nov. 23, 2016)
Already famous for being a rare example of featuring a non-white lead in a Disney animated movie, Moana takes place in Polynesia 2000 years ago. After the death of her grandmother, the titular character steals a boat and sets sail for a distant island with her sidekicks Pua the pig and Hei the rooster. There, she meets fallen demigod (voiced by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) who has tattoos that come to life. Oh, and it's a musical — the opening number revolving around Moana's birth supposedly evokes The Lion King's "The Circle Of Life."
Toy Story 4 (June 16, 2017)
Lasseter didn't offer too many new details about the fourth-quel to Pixar's most popular franchise (which Lasseter himself will direct), since he's still "in the early stages of the film, but it's shaping up nicely," he assured the audience. As beloved as the Toy Story films are, many fans were concerned when another entry was announced, given how perfect the conclusion of Toy Story 3 was. Lasseter offered a cryptic tease in an attempt to waylay those fears: "The story is not as much a continuation of the past films, but a brand new chapter in the Toy Story world." Does that mean it'll be about a whole new group of toys? No Woody and Buzz Lightyear?! I'll remain cautiously optimistic about this one until more news is announced.
The Incredibles 2 (TBA)
Okay, so Lasseter didn't actually address this recently-announced project, but I had to include it here because it's just so darn exciting! Brad Bird, whose Tomorrowland hits theaters this Memorial Day Weekend, will return to Pixar to direct the sequel that fans have been clamoring after for ages. The Incredibles 2 doesn't have a release date — we don't know yet if it will be happening before or after Cars 3 (yes, really) or Pixar's "Dia De Los Muertos"-themed project — but at least it's actually happening oh my God you guys FINALLY.
Images: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (7)