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Infinity and Beyond is a regular bi-weekly column documenting the 25-year filmography of Pixar Animation Studios, film by film. In today’s column, writer Josh Spiegel highlights Toy Story 2.
The 1990s were a decade of change for the Walt Disney Company. Executive shakeups, outside acquisitions, and more made the company much more massive by the close of the 1990s than they were at the start. In 1990, Pixar Animation Studios was able to see its computer technology on display for a brief minute or two in the hand-drawn animated film The Rescuers Down Under. By 1999, Pixar had proven that it just might be the powerful new kid in town in the animation industry.
And it was all thanks to a sequel that nearly got trapped on the small screen.My Source of Power
1990 was also the year when the Walt Disney Company released its first theatrical animated film from a different studio, one largely focused on small-screen properties. The film was DuckTales The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, a spin-off of the well-liked TV series starring Scrooge McDuck, and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Like the show, DuckTales the Movie was not given a high budget; the studio making the film, dubbed Disney MovieToons at the time before being renamed as DisneyToon Studios later in the 1990s, was based in France and worked primarily on Disney’s TV shows.
In spite of the low budget, and the fact that plenty of kids knew what DuckTales was, the film made just a modest amount of money at the box office. DisneyToon Studios has had a number of other theatrical releases, such as the mid-90s film A Goofy Movie, but they mostly focused on making feature-length films that would only ever live on home media. Four years after DuckTales The Movie, they released The Return of Jafar, the first direct-to-video sequel to a Disney animated classic. It’s important to reflect on The Return of Jafar in context with Toy Story 2, because the success of the former inspired Disney to sequelize a lot of other animated films, just for the TV screen. The Return of Jafar sold nearly 5 million VHS copies in its first week alone.
By the end of the 1990s, a number of other Disney Renaissance-era films had gotten the DTV treatment from DisneyToon Studios, such as Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Pocahontas. Thus, it may have been a natural notion for Disney executives to want to do the same to the first computer-animated film ever released, especially since Toy Story wound up as the highest-grossing domestic release of 1995. Though discussions of a sequel, per the David Price book The Pixar Touch, began as early as December of 1995, there wasn’t a whole lot clear at the outset of what the film would look like would it be computer-animated or traditionally animated?, who would direct it, or even if stars Tom Hanks and Tim Allen...
The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.
In this edition, see how the storyboards for a Toy Story 4 sequence with Ducky and Bunny compare to the final cut in the movie. Plus, check out some Easter eggs, hints and more you might have missed in the third season premiere of HBO’s series Westworld, and listen to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker co-star and Oscar nominee Richard E. Grant break down his career.
First up, watch one of the funniest sequences from Toy Story 4 featuring several plans proposed by stuffed animals Ducky and Bunny side-by-side with the storyboards used to plan the scenes in question. You’ll see that not many changes were made from the storyboards, with the exception of some shot angle adjustments and characters placements, which shows how carefully planned the production was.
Next up, the third season of Westworld is essentially hitting the reset button on the series after the second season turned off the fans who fell in love with season one. But there are still plenty of details to pick up on, references you might have missed, Easter eggs that may hold hints, and much more. Watch as ScreenCrush runs through 73 different things you might have missed.
Finally, the delightful Richard E. Grant who can be seen in AMC’s new series Dispatches from Elsewhere takes Vanity Fair through a career retrospective, starting with early performances in Withnail & I, Warlock and L.A. Story, moving through Spice World and Gosford Park, and arriving up to recent turns in Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Disney+ may benefit from further delays with the studio's theatrical releases as more movies may be going directly to the streaming service in the future. This, according to former Disney CEO and current Executive Chairman Bob Iger. It was recently revealed that Artemis Fowl will debut on Disney+ sometime this year, skipping a theatrical release. As Iger explains, that may not be the only title to make the move from theatrical to streaming, but don't expect to see it happen with the studio's upcoming tentpole releases.
Given what's going on in the world right now, most movie theaters are shut down entirely and virtually all major releases through June have been delayed. Some have wondered if Disney might put movies like Black Widow or Mulan on Disney+ instead. While that won't be happening, Bob Iger isn't ruling out other movies making the shift. Here's what Iger had to say about it in a recent interview.'There are some we've decided to put on Disney+. We already announced one, Artemis Fowl, that would have been released in theaters. Others we've simply delayed. In some cases we've moved things onto Disney+ faster than we would have. Frozen 2 was one of them, but Onward would be the biggest example. It was in theaters when this happened.' 'We moved to a pay-per-view period for a couple of weeks where people could buy it and own it. And then we ended up putting it on Disney+. In terms of movies going ahead after Artemis, there may be a few more that we end up putting directly onto Disney+, but for the most part a lot of the big tentpole Disney films, we'll simply wait for slots. In some cases we've announced new ones already, but later on in the calendar.'
There is a lot to unpack here. Black Widow and several other delayed movies were recently given new release dates as Disney reshuffled its 2020/2021 calendar. Black Widow and other big-budget tentpoles stand to make far more money in theaters, even with a relatively uncertain future ahead, than they could possibly generate via streaming. So putting movies like them directly on Disney+ doesn't make that much business sense.
In the meantime, taking riskier projects such as Artemis Fowl and giving Disney+ subscribers something flashy and exclusive is helpful. But what other movies might fit the bill for streaming debuts? The New Mutants perhaps? Whatever the case, as Bob Iger points out, the studio is content to wait until things return to normal. Disney, more than any other studio in Hollywood, is capable of raking in big dollars at the box office. So this truly isn't that surprising.
Other studios, on the other hand, may see value in doing a VOD/Digital release. Universal kicked that door wide open a couple of weeks back by putting recent releases such as The Invisible Man and The Hunt online. Trolls: World Tour, which was destined for theaters, will arrive digitally this month. Disney has not yet set a premiere date for Artemis Fowl, but it's...
Infinity and Beyond is a regular bi-weekly column documenting the 25-year filmography of Pixar Animation Studios, film by film. In today’s column, writer Josh Spiegel highlights Cars.
In the early days of 2006, the Walt Disney Company made a dramatic change whose impacts are still being felt today. Michael Eisner had once been the CEO of the Disney conglomerate, and while he’d grasped a modicum of the success that Pixar Animation Studios would bring, he’d always been standoffish to the idea of Pixar being fully brought into the fold. For many reasons, Eisner was pushed out of Disney in 2005, when Robert Iger became the new CEO. As Iger wrote in his recent memoir, The Ride of a Lifetime, one of his first acts of business was to do what Michael Eisner refused to do: make Pixar an official part of Disney.
So in January 2006, Disney confirmed a $7.4 billion deal to acquire Pixar Animation Studios. The deal was such, though, that it really felt like Disney was asking Pixar to join them, instead of throwing billions at them. John Lasseter was installed as a creative lead at Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering, too. That same year, Lasseter returned to the director’s chair, for a true passion project. It was technologically as bold and daring as anything else Pixar had done. The studio’s prior film, The Incredibles, had focused entirely on humans, for the first time. For Cars, though…well, Cars was another story.Taking a Drive
The idea for Cars, though, didn’t officially start with John Lasseter. Instead, it was animator Jorgen Klubien who came up with the idea for something called The Yellow Car. This would be a story about an electric car in a world of gas-guzzling vehicles, akin to The Ugly Duckling. Klubien’s script was first reviewed and initially greenlit in the late 1990s, as Pixar was wrapping production on another fable-inspired story, A Bug’s Life. But for one reason or another, Klubien’s version of a world of cars was pushed to the back burners.
And then, much as there had been a fated lunch in advance of the arrival of Toy Story that would lead to ideas for many great Pixar films, there was a road trip. In 2000, Lasseter took his family on a cross-country road trip that would lead him down a Route 66-shaped rabbit hole. He soon contacted automotive historian Michael Wallis, in the hopes of having a consultant lead him and a group of animators on a trip down the fabled, but mostly forgotten Mother Road.
Klubien, for his part, has frustrated feelings about the whole experience. The animator and musician was excluded from Cars’ end credits, pointing out in an interview, “It is also the most bitter experience of mine as Pixar got rid of me…and because I feel John Lasseter has written me out of the story of how the film got made.”...