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Finding Nemo 2: Jumping the Shark

By now you've heard the news that Pixar is working on a Finding Nemo 2 with director Andrew Stanton (John Carter) returning to the fold. Someone really needs to give little Nemo a compass, poor thing. 

More distressing is the persistent rumor (not fact as far as I can tell) that Toy Story 4 is being developed. If they make it, I honestly believe that they should revoke all of Toy Story 3's reviews and its Best Picture nomination; its massive success and emotional wallop hinged on it being the finale, the moment you, like Andy, had to say a tearful final goodbye. If they make Toy Story 4 it was a lie. (It already was a fib given that the characters lived on in short films immediately thereafter.)

The Hollywood Reporter doesn't mention Toy Story 4 in their roundup of what's going on with Pixar but they do say this very very odd thing:

The move is also a safe one by Pixar, the company that once was praised for cranking out original film after original film, but now seems to trying to balance commercial prospects with unique creations.

What is there to balance?

Pixar IS the safe commercial prospect. Sequels are redundant since people go because the movies are Pixar. They don't go because they love the characters/singular franchise. Most of the time they haven't met the characters yet. All Pixar movies are already "safe commercial prospects" by virtue of the studio's reputation and marketability. So why not make original movies and keep the reputation intact, keep the legacy and critical sheen as The Greatest Movie Studio Ever?


Frankly I don't get it. Yes, Finding Nemo 2 will make more than Brave but why sacrifice your reputation and legacy for an extra ½ billion when everything you release makes at least that much? Brave, an original that was seen as a risk given its female protagonist, has earned $244 million globally and is still going strong and Merida herself will surely generate 100s of millions more in merchandising by virtue of that billion dollar Disney Princess branding. Ratatouille, an original that was seen as a risk due to its subject matter (ewww!), earned $623 million globally. Up, an original that was seen as a risk given its old man protagonist,  earned $731 million globally and a Best Picture nomination. WALL•E, which was seen as a risk given its nearly silent movieisms, earned $521 million globally along with an instant reputation as a masterpiece and did more than most Pixar pictures to cement their reputation as a commercially minded company that also indisputably produces great art.

Didn't Cars 2 do enough to sully their reputation, making them appear as Profits-First driven as every other studio?

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Reader Comments (22)

Sad to see that franchise culture has finally infected even Pixar. Why produce a story with original characters/concept and make $600 million when you can make a derivative sequel and likely make $1 billion? Not sure which is the biggest bummer though: that Lassiter et. al have been co-opted enough by the corporate culture at Disney that they participate in this kind of nonsense, or that Andrew Stanton is returning to direct. Or that Stanton is returning to direct but isn't writing the script, which probably tells you all you need to know about his level of investment in the project.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Oh no, I'd managed to totally skip over the news that Stanton wasn't going to be involved with the script this time. That makes this whole thing about ten times worse.

Booooooo . . .

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz N.

I wonder if you're not too harsh for Pixar. :) CARS 2 weren't that bad as Nathaniel thinks (I have to agree with Roger Ebert on that who gave it 3,5 stars out of four - and was right as he very often is [but not always]). TOY STORY 2 and TOY STORY 3 were great. And that are all their sequels so far. We don't know how MONSTER'S UNIVERSITY and FINDING NEMO 2 will be - maybe they will be great - who knows? And I have never believed that TOY STORY 3 will be the last part of the series - because if they've made two new parts - than why not make the next one later? Especially when the third part earns billion dollars and is praised by critics.
And I suppose that they decided to make FINDING NEMO 2 after BRAVE earned really small money (remembering that this is one of the most expensive Pixar' movies so far). You can't blame them that they want to earn money! The quality of sequels is important not their existence.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSomeone

A Finding Nemo sequel has for years now been my go-to joke example of the moment that we'll know for certain that Pixar has given up trying. It's much less funny when it actually happens.

At least Untitled Pixar Film That Takes You Inside the Mind hasn't been cancelled. Yet.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim

I disagree with Someone, Cars 2 is exactly as bad as Nathaniel thinks. On top of that it all just seems so unnessecary. Monsters University looks dumb, the premise is dumb, and the original is lower tier Pixar, if they had to make a sequel, why not one for The Incredibles which is something a lot of people actually want

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatt S

Matt S: I'd say there are three tiers of Pixar: Low Tier is probably, in descending order, Brave, A Bugs Life, Cars and Cars 2. Mid Tier is, in descending order, Up, Monsters Inc., Toy Story 3 and (personally) The Incredibles (because of the Watchmen derivative elements, it gets a B+). Top Tier is, in descending order: Toy Story, Toy Story 2, WALL-E and Finding Nemo. That having been said though: There's still a legitimate angle for ONE more Toy Story sequel to work as an epilogue, there's a blatantly teased angle for an Incredibles film sequel, and, if they pitch it as a send up of 1950s values (Monsters Inc. being based around a metaphor of the 70s energy crisis), Monsters U makes a bit of sense as a prequel. Finding Nemo, though? Yeah, the way that film wound down, there are exactly ZERO genuine sequel roads.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I liked the first Cars quite a bit and I found Cars 2 to be nearly unwatchable. Loud and endless and unfunny. The first one had a lightness and sweetness to it, and the way it made love to the curves of metal and the light and reflections upon it was gorgeous. The second one was like having my face dragged thru gravel for two hours.

I love love love Finding Nemo though, way more than I ever liked Cars, so I'm torn. If they can make something as good as the second Toy Story then hooray! If this is a cash grab, and as Nat explains there's every sign that these guys are all about that now, then notsomuch. I haven't unabashedly without resevrations loved one of their movies since Wall*E.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJA


July 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterseasondays

OK, I have to admit that I've seen CARS 2 with Polish dubbing - maybe it was far better than original version, I don't know but it was quite funny here and Mater isn't irritating at all in Polish version - he's here (I would say) cute and that's all. Maybe Larry the Cable Guy is the reason why American people hate CARS 2 (?). Plot was quite interesting pastiche of Bond movies and it is sequel that is completely different than the original movie what almost never happens in American "franchises". Instead of the second movie about beauty of living in the country we've got the spy adventure. IMO it shows that Pixar - even when doing sequels - still doesn't want to repeat themselves. And that's why I can't understand all this hoopla against Pixar. And really: how could anyone think that they will always - till the end of the world - do only original masterpieces???

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSomeone

Nice piece, sums up exactly how I feel. And Tim, I've been making that joke too and boy is it unfunny now.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDominique

Albert Brooks said last year that he'd like to do a Finding Nemo sequel where Nemo is grown up and Marlin has a hard time letting him go off to live his own life. But wasn't that essentially the point of the first movie, albeit with Nemo being younger? If this is actually the direction the movie ends up taking, I believe it would negate the ending of the first movie, because it would basically imply that Marlin didn't really learn anything from his journey.

And yeah, if Toy Story 4 happens, I will boycott Pixar. I know that sounds juvenile and extreme, but the ending of Toy Story 3 means nothing if the story continues. I pray that this is only a rumor. Hell, I'd say let them do TWO sequels to Finding Nemo if it means leaving Toy Story alone from now on.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

Agree with Edwin-the Toy Story trilogy is this perfect, beautiful thing that should be left alone. Leave them wanting more, as the maxim goes. I can pretend that the shorts never happened, but I can't pretend that a fourth movie doesn't exist. I'll even raise you-I'd rather them make Cars 3, 4, 5, and 6 and be forced to watch them all in a row than have Toy Story 4 come out.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

And how many decades did the original Disney go without doing a theatrical sequel? Pixar is not infallible if they just rely on their laurels and churn out sequels. I mean, Disney at its beginning put out Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi in a five-year period. You'd be hard-pressed to find a 5/5 sort of record like that anywhere.

And also, somewhat but not really related-I still cannot believe Tangled is not called Rapunzel and Frozen will not be called The Snow Queen. This bugs the crap out of me that they decided to mess with classic naming.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

"Toy Story 3" is the ending of the trilogy about Andy's toys. But toys have new owner - and we can have new trilogy. :P
And IMO fourth part won't change anything for the ending of the third. Andy lost his childhood - and that is what this ending was about. If the fourth part will be about Bonnie, not Andy - so be it.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSomeone

I'm mixed on this. I don't like every Pixar movie - I enjoyed Cars 2 more than Up or Brave. (Perhaps I don't like too many humans in my movies?) But I'm excited for Monsters University, and I'm curious about Finding Nemo 2. I adore the Toy Story films, but we've had three, and I don't need another.

I think I'm just greedy, and want new stories with the characters I love, even if it might not be the best for the the 'franchise'. My heart is winning right now. We'll see if my head wins out in the end.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEricka

Someone: That's exactly it. They actually planted the seed for more at the end of Toy Story 3. I don't think it was a "full trilogy" level of more, but there was the possibility of at least one more film from where they ended. There was a seed in The Incredibles. A Monsters Inc prequel makes sense if they want to examine 1950s values and make a logical expansion to their metaphor. Finding Nemo, though? There's no way to take that. The story is complete and there's no actual sequel angle. As to Larry the Cable Guy being the reason a lot of Americans hate Cars 2? Considering that a live-action film he starred in (Tooth Fairy 2) could go without a wikipedia article, I don't doubt that as part of the reason. Though, frankly, Owen Wilson was actually fairly grating in the first Cars, going too far with the character in the opening bits and stripping him of all sympathy, so that by the time the arc starts, we kind of want to see him blown up. I'm sure the Polish dub is way different in that regard too.
Edwin and John T: It's not a completely tied up movie. There's room for one more, but I doubt any more than that.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Everything that you said is right and I couldn't be more disappointed with this news. I see you now, Pixar. >_>

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

If they really must have these characters live on for the sake of marketing, turn them into a weekly cartoon series for kids, pop 'em on the Disney Channel. It would probably be cheaper and you'd still hit your core audience for the sake of merchandising.

Adherent to the George Lucas Rule: don't do things that are going to undo the greatness of what you've already done.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobert A.

I can see them going back to "Nemo" because underwater films really look cool in 3 - D.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Off course they go to see sequels for the characters what a stupid thing to say Toy Story was my favourite movies when i was a kid same with Finding Nemo and if they make a Toy Story 4 then i cant wait to see what their doing i love Pixar Animation Studios ever since i saw the firstToy Story and i am also very excited about Finding Nemo 2.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAidan Williams

I totally agree with Aidan Williams

August 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmonda Wilson

My kids and I love Toy Story and Finding Nemo. I hope they do make more. I've already seen all the toy story's and nemo a million times. I'd love to see it continue and be something new.

September 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous26
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