Pixar's upcoming films are 'insanely different and unrecognisable to the other' (exclusive)

Tom Butler
Senior Editor
A giant model of Luxo Jr., Pixar's iconic desktop lamp mascot, is seen at its campus in Emeryville, California, on November 29, 2016. (FRANKIE TAGGART/AFP/Getty Images)

This week Disney confirmed the release dates of Pixar’s next six animated feature filmsToy Story 4 is first up to bat, hitting UK cinemas in 21 June, 2019, followed by fantasy adventure Onward - starring Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Octavia Spencer, and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss - arriving in March next year.

The studio’s next four films, which remain a mystery, are scheduled to arrive in June 2020, June 2021, March 2022, and June 2022 - and Toy Story 4 producer Jonas Rivera has promised these as-yet-unannounced titles are “insane”.

Read more: Why make Toy Story 4?

Talking to Yahoo ahead of the release of the fourth Toy Story film - which marks the last sequel currently in development at the San Francisco-based animation powerhouse - Rivera said the mood at Pixar is reminiscent of the time before the release of Toy Story in 1995.

“It does [feel like a pre-Toy Story Pixar],” Rivera told us. “I've been there a long time, since the first one. And it does, man. It feels like there are so many talented people that I work with, and they're all rising up, and they're doing a little more. And there's new original films [coming], stuff that you won't even believe, it's just so insane.”

Of the first ten films released by Pixar between Toy Story in 1995 and Up in 2009, only one of them was a sequel - 1999’s hugely successful Toy Story 2. The studio was synonymous with originality with each new film markedly different from the last. However, of the last ten Pixar films, six have been sequels. But Rivera promises the studio is over its sequel addiction.

Read more: Toy Story 4 to have emotional ending

“[The mood at Pixar] has echoes of how it felt [back then] and I always remember the trio of Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, and Incredibles, where each one of those felt insanely different, and unrecognisable to the other.

Tim Allen, left, and Tom Hanks arrive at the world premiere of Toy Story 3 on Sunday June 13, 2010 at The El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Katy Winn)

And they were all first time directors that have gone on to be wildly successful. And there are echoes of that, in my opinion, that it feels like that's what we've got coming.”

Pixar’s Brian Fee (Cars 3 co-director], Mark Andrews (Brave co-director), Domee Shi (Bao director) and Pete Docter (Disney CCO and director of Inside Out, Up, and Monsters Inc) are all reportedly working on new Pixar films, but what they are is anybody’s guess.

Pete Docter, left, and Jonas Rivera are seen at the Los Angeles premiere of "Inside Out" at the El Capitan Theatre on Monday, June 8, 2015 (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)

Onward writer-director Dan Scanlon told fans at Disney’s D23 Expo his film will “tell the story of two teenage elf brothers whose father died when they were too young to remember him. But thanks to the little magic still left in the world, the boys embark on a quest that will allow them a chance to spend one last magical day with their father.”

It’s said to be set in a modern fantasy world, populated by fairies, trolls, elves, and unicorns, and no humans.

One thing that can be relied on is that Pixar will continue to advance the technology used to make its films. Rivera says the rendering computers used to make Toy Story 4 could render every single frame of Toy Story 1 “faster than we could watch it”.

Read more: Pixar scenes that always make you cry

“You could render every shot in that movie in less than 90 minutes. It's absurd how far it's come. And I think we tend to eat those gains creatively. Every time we sort of reinvent the way to render, then we just do more creatively.”

“Right now, on a shot of Toy Story 4, the complexities are such that there are shots in there that take 60 hours to 150 hours a frame to render.”

Toy Story 4 is in cinemas from 21 June.