Thursday, July 22, 2010

New "Muppet Movie" Seeks Pixar Advice

At the end of the blog entry on why I won't go see "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", I mentioned that many Disney movies, including live-action ones, might benefit from undergoing the same scrutiny and process that a Pixar movie goes through. The upcoming Tron movie already have had input from the Pixar folks. Now it looks like the people involved with the upcoming Muppet movies are also doing the same thing.

Some of the members of the so-called "Pixar Brain Trust" -- filmmakers John Lasseter, Brad Bird , Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, Michael Arndt, Bob Peterson and president Ed Catmull -- were there for the consultations. On the Disney side, Muppets director James Bobin and producers David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman were likely in the room along with Segel. Neither Pixar nor Disney would comment.

Beyond whatever advice might have come down for the project at hand, the fact that Pixar has its fingers in the Muppets pie suggests that Disney, under the new regime of Rich Ross and Sean Bailey, is intent on taking advantage of its subsidiary's storytelling abilities.

And I say, why not? Pixar movies aren't just commercial success. They are also critical successes, and they continue to take risks and do new things, not just cranking out formulaic, production-line movies.

Edit: Coincidentally, just after I posted this, I came across another article that tries to consider if Pixar brand and way of doing things are actually more universal and can be applied in other areas. This will turn Pixar into something loosely resembling a consulting agency.

Perhaps the real question, though, is whether there's a wider market for Pixar's brand of emotional perceptiveness and sensitivity. I'd hate to think the appetite for honest, unusual movies, for stories about old married couples, and platonic friends, and adorable apocalyptic robots and families of fish only exists once a year, or once every several years. And I don't actually believe it's that limited. I think there's a genuine hunger for the kind of movies Pixar makes, whether they're animated or live-action, aimed at children, or adults, or yearning people of all ages. In other words, there's a market. It will be interesting if Pixar's work on Tron: Legacy will be a one-off, or a potential new business model.

I guess I'm going to be a bit selfish here. I hope they stick with Disney movies. There's always a risk of spreading oneself too thin, and that's when quality control drops.


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