Pixar Animation Studios is the closest you can get to a sure thing in Hollywood. Since the company released Toy Story in 1995, it has put out nothing but hits, raking in loads of money and earning numerous Academy Award nominations in the process.
Critically speaking, the worst movie Pixar has put out over the last 16 years was Cars, and that was still a generally enjoyable and extremely well-made movie (not to mention one of the biggest box office successes the studio has put out).
Anyone familiar with Pixar knows that the studio's success comes from its commitment to sound storytelling. How often in Hollywood do you find yourself actually debating whether or not the second or third film in a franchise is the best? Most of the time, sequels stink. And yet, with Toy Story 3, Pixar had one of the best films of 2010. In short, the studio just plain "gets it" when it comes to good movies.
So, naturally, when word came out last summer that Disney was releasing a direct-to-DVD movie called Planes, that would be a spin-off from Pixar's Cars, many fans were apprehensive. Essentially, people were worried that the studio was going down the path of cash over quality by releasing a spin-off instead of a theatrical release.
Well Pixar fans, you can breath a sigh of relief. Yesterday, Disney sent-out a press release talking about Planes in greater detail. While Planes is inspired by Pixar's Cars, it will be produced by DisneyToon Studios, the department of Disney responsible for other straight-to-DVD films like Bambi 2: Back With a Vengeance (just kidding).
Planes will come out on DVD and Blu-ray in spring 2013. For a little more information about the film, here's a quote from the press release.
"PLANES takes off with an international cast of the fastest air racers around, in a comedy packed with action and adventure starring Dusty, a small town dreamer who longs to enter the most epic around-the-world air race … despite his fear of heights. With the help and support of a fleet of new and hilarious characters, Dusty wings his way into the biggest challenge of his life."
I'm a hardcore Disney fan, so I don't mean to bust the company's chops, but it's great to know that this project isn't officially affiliated with Pixar. The law of averages says that Pixar will put out a bad movie eventually, but it's nice to know that we don't have to worry about it being a straight-to-DVD movie.
That being said, there is definitely potential for Planes to be good. In the press release, Pixar's John Lasseter gives the movie a thumbs up, saying, "The team at DisneyToon Studios has done such an amazing job creating a heartfelt story filled with great comedy, adventure, and emotion." Of course, it's a press release, so it's not like he's going to say anything bad.
Direct-to-DVD movies don't, simply by default, have to be bad. I hope DisneyToons pulls it off with this one. In the meantime, lets hope Pixar keeps its streak alive with Cars 2, which hits theaters June 24th of this year.