Roughly 13 years passed between Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, and yet, here we are, on the opening weekend of release of Disney/Pixar’s follow-up to the second-most successful movie of 2003, wondering: What’s next?
It’s a perfectly natural question to ask of the hit-making studio, especially as they gear up for a new wave of sequels to beloved existing properties that either already have established universes (like Toy Story) or are getting a follow-up for the first time (The Incredibles).
Our craving for lush, inventive worlds must be satiated at least once a year by the creative cadre up in Emeryville, California, and fortunately, Pixar has a robust slate on the foreseeable horizon — and the promise of even more originals in a not-quite-visible future after that.
We’ve been down this road before, and whether it was one of dusty desert dirt or sleek international asphalt, another Cars adventure with Lightning McQueen and Mater is speeding your way. After two spin-offs in the same universe (Planes, Planes: Fire & Rescue), Pixar is going back to its off-road roots in a film that returns thematically to the original.
What We Know: In a recent interview with EW, Pixar chief John Lasseter teased new characters and “great racing” as he addressed some of the developments as the film starts to rev its motors: “It’s a very emotional story. It’s a little bit more akin to Cars 1, where you get into a deep emotion with [Lightning]. It’s really a special story [about] his relationship with Doc Hudson and his memory of Doc Hudson.” The name-drop raises an interesting question about the role, as Paul Newman, who played the retired race car, died in 2008, and Pixar subsequently opted not to reprise his character with another voice actor in the 2011 sequel.
When It’s Out: June 16, 2017
Of Pixar’s next four announced films, only one stands out as wholly new to the roster: Coco, an original story about Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos.
What We Know: The title isn’t attributed to anything quite yet, but the story follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who conjures up an extraordinary family reunion between the living and the dead on the Mexican holiday celebrating the beloved deceased. Based on the nature of the holiday itself and the enormous guitar that Miguel carries around on his back, it’s suggested that music may play a large role — dare we assume it could be Pixar’s first real musical? — as well as themes of family and memory. In the mortal world, the two big names you should know here are director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson, who reunite from their last collaboration, Toy Story 3, which only made a billion dollars at the box office.
When It’s Out: November 22, 2017
If you thought 13 years was a long time to wait between Nemo and Dory, prepare yourself for the astounding 15-year gap between films about Pixar’s first family of superheroes.
What We Know: Not much. Writer/director/voice of Edna Mode Brad Bird is back in action with a new tale that once again follows the Parr family, who, at the end of the first film, learned that baby Jack-Jack was just as — if not more — superheroically gifted as the rest of the clan. Despite whatever time has passed between films, Bird has stated that the sequel wouldn’t try to comment on the growing popularity of superhero movies or the Marvel universe in the years since The Incredibles. Coincidentally, such a universe includes Samuel L. Jackson, who revealed in an interview that his character, Frozone, will be appearing in the sequel.
When It’s Out: June 15, 2018
Toy Story 4
Though the door on the Toy Story world was thought to be closed (save for the forgivably occasional ABC special), John Lasseter was apparently so enamored with the idea behind the third sequel that he wanted to direct it himself, having helmed the first two films before relinquishing the role for Toy Story 3. Originally slated for next summer, the new installment in the Toy Story canon will re-introduce the plastic gang (whom we last saw swap ownership from grown Andy to little Bonnie) as well as a familiar porcelain face: Bo Peep.
What We Know: It’s a rom-com — seriously. Lasseter teased the plot of Toy Story 4 as a love story between Woody and Bo Peep, inspired by his own marriage. Bo Peep, of course, disappeared somewhere between Toy Story 2 and 3, and the film will ostensibly dive into her backstory. The film already has writers attached, and they’re a doozy: In addition to veteran members of Pixar’s story trust, the film welcomes Rashida Jones and Will McCormack (Celeste and Jesse Forever) as the duo behind the screenplay.
When It’s Out: June 21, 2019
Untitled Pixar Animation 1 & 2
When They’re Out: March 13, 2020; June 19, 2020
Following these four films, there’s a two-for-one special of up-for-grabs stories on Pixar’s future slate. Two untitled projects have been pegged on Disney’s release calendar, both without titles but with dates: The first, scheduled for March 2020, and the second, for June. Interestingly, Pixar has never scheduled a film for March before, and the pairing will mark the studio’s shortest interval between releases; the only close comparison would be the five-month gap between 2015’s June and November originals, Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur.
As of earlier in 2016, EW learned that at least the next four films following The Incredibles 2 were all originals, but take that with a grain of CGI salt. Pixar’s signature story-building process takes years, and the studio has been known to shelve a tale if it simply doesn’t captivate. (R.I.P., Newt.)
This post has been updated after its original publication.