Pixar will be releasing a number of sequels over the next few years - with this year's Finding Dory set to be followed up by Cars 3, The Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 4 in 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively - but that doesn't mean the studio is leaving original projects behind. The studio has already stated that there are no more follow-ups planned after Toy Story 4 right now; and you won't have to wait until 2020 for something new anyway. Next fall will see the release of Coco, the long-mooted film from Toy Story 3's director Lee Unkrich that's built around Mexico's Day of the Dead festival.
Beyond that brief pitch, however, very little has been known about the movie, with only a single still from a Disney event tiding fans over. Thankfully, a new behind-the-scenes feature has finally shed some light on the project, introducing its core voice cast and providing a tantalising plot summary in the process.
The three named Coco voice actors so far are Benjamin Bratt (Rey Curtis on Law & Order), Gael García Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle) and newcomer Anthony Gonzalez. For more on their roles in the film, check out the official synopsis for Coco, below:
“Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history. Character actress Renée Victor also joins the cast as Abuelita, Miguel’s grandmother.”
The big reveal here is that Coco will be Pixar's most musical animated movie yet; although it probably won't be as full-on as Disney films like Moana or Frozen, the concept still promises several in-world songs. The studio's previous films have typically avoided using proper musical numbers, so that alone promises something different. Beyond just the audio elements, though, like many of Pixar's recent original movies - an octogenarian flying a house to Venezuela, the anthropomorphized emotions in a preteen girl - the core concept is suitably away-from-norm, dealing as it does with a totally different culture to what many American audiences will be used to.
When he spoke to Entertainment Weekly about treating that aspect of the film correctly, Unkrich had this to say:
“It was important to us from day one that we had an all-Latino cast. It focused us, and we ended up with a fantastic mix of people — some from Mexico and some from Los Angeles.”
This focus on respectful authenticity and an exploration that goes deeper into Mexican culture than similarly focused movies - such as 2014's The Book of Life - suggests a unique, justified movie. Unkrich also revealed that the long development period (Coco has been in the works pretty much since Toy Story 3 hit) led to a big casting change:
"We actually had another kid doing scratch for Miguel who’s now 17 or 18, which should tell you how long we’ve been working on the movie, but his voice changed long ago, and it was actually in trying to find a new voice for the scratch that we found Anthony."
Pixar has a great track record with casting their child parts, prioritizing the actors' fit over a star name - John Morris played a growing Andy across all three Toy Story films, Mary Gibbs really was just a toddler when she recorded Boo for Monsters Inc. - and it sounds that that tradition is still alive and well with the recasting of Gonzalez.
With Cars 3 looking more emotional than expected and Coco now revealed as a very exciting entry in the studio's canon, 2017 is looking set to be a big year for Pixar.
Source: Entertainment Weekly
- Coco (2017) release date: Nov 22, 2017