COMMENT | Only yesterday it was announced that Pixar were cutting their staff by 5%. What this means is that 60 jobs will be lost at the animation studio due to a decision to postpone the release date of 'The Good Dinosaur'. The prehistoric animation was originally penned for May next year, but has since been pushed to the end of 2015. It's not the only production to be delayed, either, with 'Finding Dory' now not out till June 2016 (!) -- will anyone still care in almost three years time? Importantly, though, were Disney pushing Pixar too hard and too fast?
It seems that due to scheduling and, presumably budgets, the delay has meant projected costs have been screwed up and the company are unable to fund their workforce for the extended duration. It's a huge blow for Pixar and obviously the employees that've been laid off, but why did it happen? Who is to blame? Without pointing the finger specifically, there are perhaps some factors that have contributed to this shock announcement.
This comes just six weeks after Pixar, Canada were forced to close their doors, making 100 staff jobless with a vague and nondescript reason. So is this news really a surprise? Well, in a word, yes. The studio isn't exactly struggling, with merchandise from its 'Cars' franchise alone having made over $10 billion and the films collectively taking over half of that since 1995, so why the bump in the road?
Being more closely associated with Disney in a working capacity in recent years, one would have assumed this would've strengthened Pixar's position, but seems to have left it a little shaky at its foundations.
Pixar and Disney now bear a strong-yielding partnership. But while you'd assume this combo of one of the most recognisable and influential worldwide brands and the pioneers of CGI feature films is a win-win scenario, it perhaps isn't as mutually beneficial as it appears. Is it coincidence that Disney animations 'Tangled', 'Wreck-It Ralph' and the upcoming 'Frozen' seem to be outperforming and outshining the likes of 'Cars 2' and 'Monsters University'? Critically, Disney seem to have been gaining a warmer reception, while Pixar's output has been somewhat tepid. Are Disney spreading Pixar resources too thinly around the entire organisation? Is a Disney takeover in fact proving to be a creative hindrance?
Pixar's main man, John Lasseter, is now Chief Creative Officer for both Pixar and Disney, which begs the question, with his commitment to recent projects such as 'Wreck-It Ralph', have the demands of a busier workload put him under pressure to not only work on more projects, but to lose focus on specific Pixar-related ones?
There's no question Lasseter is 100% committed and passionate in all he does, but there's only so many projects a person can juggle at one time. It seems that the increased schedule of Pixar's output, which was looking rammed with a few releases each year, was too much too soon. But is he accountable? Or is it Disney who were pressuring Pixar to increase their output? Either way, from an outsider perspective it did seem like their schedule was in danger of getting on top of them, especially with how long they take to painstakingly create each film.
Do you think that the once-perfect Pixar machine is in need of oiling?
indulges in all genres, with a particular affinity for animation -- specifically Pixar. His favourite films include 'Toy Story', 'Lost In Translation', 'The Shining' and 'Jurassic Park'. For more thoughts on movies and other such frivolity, follow him on Twitter.
Related Disney and Pixar article from Mike P Williams: