Disney moving on without Pixar?
Media giant plans to build a new animation studio to create sequels to hits it made with Pixar.
February 1, 2005: 5:19 PM EST
ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) – The Walt Disney Co. is building a new animation unit to create feature film sequels to the hits it made with Pixar Animation Studios, starting with a “Toy Story 3” feature film due by 2008, studio Chairman Dick Cook told Reuters Tuesday.
Fans have wondered for years whether Disney would make the next “Toy Story” as a straight-to-DVD project, like follow-ups to Disney hits such as “Lion King.”
But Cook said it would be a theatrical release.
Disney has the right to make sequels to films from the Pixar relationship, with which Pixar could cooperate or not.
Pixar (Research) has not shown interest thus far, but Disney is moving ahead with plans of its own.
Disney’s “Toy Story” sequel will be built at a new division in Glendale, California, near the feature animation division’s headquarters in Burbank, Cook said.
“It would be another unit,” he said, adding that Disney was still deciding how many animators it would hire.
“They’ll have individual projects in there, using the same technology and the same infrastructure that we have at the main location in feature animation, and it will primarily be doing sequels to Disney/Pixar films,” he said.
Speaking to Wall Street analysts who were meeting with company executives at Walt Disney World, Cook said that feature animation planned to produce one major film each year, for release around summer or winter holidays.
Cook said the Pixar sequel planned for 2008 would not be the main Disney animated feature for that year.
Disney (Research), best known for its hand-drawn style films, also showed analysts previews of “Chicken Little,” it’s first computer-animated feature.
Disney’s feature animation division has been under fire in recent years as Disney cut jobs and restructured, turning to computer animation in the shadow of Pixar. The two studios will part ways after one more jointly produced film, “Cars.”
“We’re not falling on our swords anymore,” Cook told analysts. “This is a new beginning for feature animation.”
One investor gave Disney credit for putting feature animation back on its feet with “Chicken Little” and other original work that was previewed at the meeting.
“Not everything is going to be wonderful, but my guess is this will be a credible departure from dependence on the Pixar situation,” media investor Hal Vogel told Reuters at the conference.