Ever since Cars 2 it seems that Pixar has been drowning a bit and the biggest part is their propensity toward sequels. Cars 2 is by far the least successful and worst reviewed Pixar film to date and the follow-up, Brave, did better but it wasn't nearly at par with Pixar standards. At least not for the critics. Their solution? Make the next release a prequel to Monsters, Inc.
Prior to Toy Story 3, Pixar had only released one sequel (Toy Story 2) in 10 films. In the past four Pixar films released only one has been an original story (Brave) and they have noticed a significant decline in critic reviews and viewer satisfaction. To add onto this, Pixar recently announced their next film in development is yet another sequel. This time it will be the sequel to 2003's Finding Nemo promptly titled Finding Dory which is set to hit theaters in 2015. The rumors are still flying high for a Toy Story 4 and The Incredibles 2, as well.
Pixar's formula has been to try and release two films each year. They haven't stuck too well with the plan seeing that Brave was the only 2012 release and Monsters University is the only 2013 release. They're trying to turn it around, along with making more original stories, but it doesn't look like the two films per year will fully come back until 2015. The only film Pixar has slated for 2014 is The Good Dinosaur. For 2015 we have Finding Dory and Inside Out along with more untitled Pixar projects scheduled all the way through June 2018.
Pixar chief (and President of Walt Disney Animation) Ed Catmull mentioned these concerns recently while speaking with Buzzfeed:
“For artistic reasons … it’s really important that we do an original film a year. Every once in a while, we get a film where we want or people want to see something continuing in that world — which is the rationale behind the sequel. They want those characters, which means we were successful with them. But if you keep doing that, then you aren’t doing original films.”
If the plan for more original films indeed sticks, I wouldn't expect another sequel or prequel until the second 2017 release or the 2018 release. At least I hope not.
To add onto this whole topic, I think Pixar's issue is also part of the fact that they went nuts with 3D re-releases. Disney did in general. We had re-releases of Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo. In addition to the Pixar re-releases we also had The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast. We were supposed to have The Little Mermaid 3D this September, but Disney scrapped it after the box office failures of Monsters, Inc. 3D and Finding Nemo 3D. Add onto that the fact that just about every Disney and/or Pixar film is released in 3D regardless. Bottom line: This is a problem.
I hope Pixar can turn this around because it is extremely obvious what the problem is. The saddest part is that it is ridiculously easy to turn around.