There are few film studios as beloved as Pixar, creators of some of the finest animated films of all time. The studio is known for creating emotional stories with cross-generational appeal, prompting audience investment in such unlikely protagonists as two fish, a toy cowboy, or even the monsters lurking inside every closet. Pixar's most recent film, Inside Out, enjoyed unparalleled success at the box office and reminded fans everywhere that Pixar is home to some of the most gifted storytellers currently working in film.
One of Pixar's most popular films is 2003's Finding Nemo, starring Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres as two fish (Marlin and Dory, respectively), searching for the titular Nemo. The movie was praised for being highly original and for having deep, mature themes. Needless to say, fans have been demanding a sequel ever since. And not too long ago, those wishes were answered, when the upcoming sequel Finding Dory was announced for release in 2016.
During Disney's D23 Expo, Finding Nemo director Andrew Stanton was on stage to give some new details about the upcoming film. According to Entertainment Weekly, the director originally thought that the Finding Nemo story was a "closed circuit." However, he eventually realized that Dory's story wasn't quite over.
"I wanted to know that if this charming, forgetful fish ever got lost again, that she would be okay. That she would find her way home. And at the end of 'Finding Nemo,' I wasn't confident about that. So that's when I knew I had another story."
DeGeneres then took to the stage, joined by two Modern Family stars Ed O'Neill and Ty Burrell, who will also lend their voices to Finding Dory. O'Neill will be portraying Hank the Octopus in the upcoming film while Burrell is playing an unnamed beluga whale who, thanks to the signature bump on the creature's head, thinks he has suffered some sort of head injury. The film is centered around an ocean sanctuary where wounded animals are treated and released back into the wild.
A short clip of the film was then shown, featuring Dory and Marlin, along with his son Nemo (Alexander Gould). Dory is struggling with her instincts that are trying to guide her home, but her memory problems prevent her from remembering where or why. Eventually, the answer comes to Dory: Her mother and father have no idea where she is and she has to go find them. Though Marlin doesn't want to go on another journey, he eventually relents and states that he "knows a guy" to get them across the ocean.
It was previously revealed that the film takes place only six months after the events of Finding Nemo, and is set largely in the Marine Biology Institute of California. Fans will finally learn about Dory's past and her connection to the institute, as well as possibly learning the source of her memory problems.
Pixar also officially announced a new film called Coco, which is the long-gestating project from Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3) inspired from the Mexican holiday Dia de Los Muertos. You can check out the post for Coco (along those for other upcoming Pixar films), below:
— Lee Unkrich (@leeunkrich) August 15, 2015
The film Coco takes its name from the main character, a twelve-year-old boy growing up in rural Mexico. Unkrich says he was inspired by the "juxtaposition of skeletons with bright, festive colors" associated with the holiday. A short clip of the film was also shown, offering a glimpse of a town full of skeletons in bright colors dancing and playing music.
Though there has been some unease over Pixar's focus on sequels in recent years, their renewed focus on original properties has helped assuage those fears. Not only was Inside Out one of the biggest films of the summer, but the studio is releasing a second original property, The Good Dinosaur, later this year.
The announcements at D23 should please the entirety of their fanbase, giving devotees a long-demanded sequel, as well as announcing another new property (from the team behind the hit Toy Story 3, no less). At their current pace, Pixar is on track to repeat their incredible critical record from the early-to-mid 2000s, long considered the studio's greatest period, creatively.
Finding Dory will be released on June 17th, 2016. Coco is expected to release in Fall 2017.