After releasing two original projects last year in Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur, Pixar is going back to the sequel well in 2016. Finding Dory, the long-awaited followup to their 2003 hit Finding Nemo, is positioned as the studio's big summer tentpole. Placing the spotlight on the lovable blue tang fish, it tells the story of Dory (Ellen Degeneres) searching for her family. Finding Nemo director Andrew Stanton returned to helm this installment and wrote the script, basing it on an idea he came up with. The genesis for the concept was Stanton being worried that the forgetful Dory wouldn't be able to find her way home if she was lost.
Disney has already put together a fairly visible marketing campaign for Finding Dory, unveiling multiple trailers and a handful of images showcasing the collection of characters from the film. With just under a month to go until the movie's theatrical premiere, the Mouse House is ramping up promotional efforts for one final push, using Degeneres' famous talk show as a platform to debut a third preview. You can watch the latest Finding Dory trailer above.
The preview begins with Dory lost as a child, illustrating that she has been separated from her parents for most of her life (including, presumably, when audiences first meet her in Finding Nemo). On her quest to find her family, Dory is "rescued" from the ocean and taken to the Marine Life Institute - described by Idris Elba's Fluke as a "fish hospital." There, Dory meets new friends such as Hank the octopus (Ed O'Neill) and whale shark Destiny (Kaitlin Olson) as Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) try to break Dory out so she can resume her journey.
Finding Dory looks to be another great blend of the classic Pixar tropes of emotion and comedy. There are several moments in this trailer that tug at the heartstrings (see: Nemo asking his father if they have to say goodbye to Dory), as well as those that make one laugh (sea lions Fluke and Rudder scaring a stranger off their rock). All in all, this is probably the best look at Finding Dory thus far, hinting at a well-rounded narrative that expands the universe established in the original. The Institute appears to be an extensive location filled with a variety of aquatic creatures that should be a treat to watch on the big screen. It's a nice change-of-pace from the dentist office fish tank in the first film and will provide the filmmakers with more opportunities.
Admittedly, Pixar has a mixed record when it comes to sequels. Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 rank among the studio's most critically acclaimed outings, but Monsters University and Cars 2 are seen as some of their weaker works. The hope is that Dory can resemble the former group more than the latter and be a worthy successor to what is considered a modern animation classic. Stanton back in the fold is a great sign, since he has been involved with several of Pixar's standout films. He's the director of Nemo and WALL-E, and also helped write all the movies in the Toy Story series and Monsters, Inc. Stanton's résumé speaks for itself and he obviously knows what makes Pixar movies work well.
Disney is so confident in Finding Dory's prospects that they screened the first 27 minutes of the movie at CinemaCon last month. Though formal reviews haven't been published yet, the reactions on social media were overwhelmingly positive, with many praising the beautiful animation and powerful story. It sounds as if none of the charm from Finding Nemo has been lost and everyone's heart was in the right place when making Dory. Time will tell, but Pixar is poised to have another monster hit under its belt when moviegoers return to the ocean.