Pixar has had a long, and for the most part, successful journey. After its stint under Lucasfilm as The Graphics Group, Pixar broke out in 1986, thanks to funding from Apple Inc., to become its own independent company. It took a good while for Pixar to find success, but it certainly did when in 1995 Disney commissioned them to make “Toy Story”. Back then, 2D animation was still reigning supreme, and to see something like “Toy Story” was breathtaking. The Steve Jobs co-founded company had no idea how immense the train ride to success would be. Soon after, Disney commissioned Pixar to do another CGI film in “A Bug’s Life” and thanks to that success the company finally decided to give them a multi-picture deal. Thus, “Toy Story 2” was commissioned (even though it didn’t get included in the three picture deal due to certain discrepancies.)
As technology advanced at a rapid pace, Pixar found itself releasing movies closer to each other. Whereas the difference between “Toy Story” and “A Bug’s Life” was three years, by the time “Finding Nemo” came out in 2004, Pixar had almost perfected their production and storytelling ability. Disney realized the sort of potential the company had and with that decided to partner with Pixar in 2006 after Disney’s then-CEO, Michael Eisner, departed. (Steve Jobs disagreed with Eisner’s vision, and, thus, was seeking partnership elsewhere.) From then on, there was nothing stopping Pixar from dominating the animated film market. Starting in 2006 with “Cars”, after twenty years of business, Pixar began their current formula of a-film-per-year.
Funnily enough, “Cars” ended up being Pixar’s lowest ranked film in terms of reviews, and by the time “Car 2” rolled around in 2011, they finally had their first stinker. Since then, Pixar has been having trouble winning back its audience. Whereas Pixar was used to seeing near-100% rankings on RottenTomatoes.com, movies like “Brave” and “Monsters University” were only doing somewhat better than “Cars” achieving just under 80% with both. The company then said that it would focus more on original products over sequels (though, “Finding Dory” is in the works.)
However, it seems waning reviews aren’t the only problems Pixar is currently facing. This entire formula took a huge hit earlier this year when Bob Peterson, the director, dropped out to do another film for the company after the film reportedly experienced “story problems.” Pixar was unable to find a director that would keep the film on track for a 2014 release, and now has found itself with no film to offer next year. That’s right. There will no Pixar movie until 2015. Luckily, it seems that we’ll be lucky enough to be getting two Pixar movies in 2015 if things continue on track.
However, due to the production stall, Pixar was forced to fire almost 5% of their staff today.
“At Pixar, we are constantly re-evaluating the creative and business needs of our studio,” a Pixar spokesman said. “With the release date change of ‘The Good Dinosaur,’ we have realigned our production and support priorities, which includes a small reduction in our staffing levels.”
This brings to question Pixar’s entire formula. Does it rely too heavily on getting a film out every year? Is Pixar pushing the limits on production to the point where they are overstaffed? Can Pixar overcome these hurdles and regain glory? I know you’re all hoping it does. And I certainly hope so too.
(Read more at Variety)