As Disney prepares to bring Pixar’s “Soul” straight to Disney+ on Christmas Day, the animation house is beginning to roll out its new slate of film projects, all hoping for a theatrical release whenever exhibition gets going. During Disney Investor Day 2020, “Soul” director and Pixar CCO Pete Docter laid out what’s to come from the animators, including upcoming Spark short “Burrow,” releasing alongside “Soul” and straight to Disney+. Docter also unveiled a lineup of shorts featuring beloved Pixar characters, coming in January.
Also announced is a spinoff from Pixar’s “Up,” “Dug Days,” featuring Bob Peterson. It’ll premiere in fall 2021. Other series coming up include a “Cars” franchise spinoff show, and Pixar’s first official long-form animated series, “Win or Lose,” about a coed middle school softball team. That debuts in fall 2023.
Coming up on the features side is director Enrico Casarosa’s “Luca,” announced for a date of June 18, 2021. The project marks Pixar’s 24th feature.
Pixar also announced “Turning Red” as the first feature to follow up “Luca,” about a young girl’s devotion to a boy band who uncontrollably poofs into a giant red panda. It’s an original take on a coming-of-age comedy from Pixar. It comes from Pixar short “Bao” director Domee Shi. “Turning Red” will hit theaters March 11, 2022. Domee Shi is the second woman to direct a feature at Pixar, following Brenda Chapman (“Brave”).
Coming in the summer of 2022 is action-adventure sci-fi “Lightyear,” a Buzz Lightyear spinoff voiced by Chris Evans. Arriving June 17, 2022, in theaters, the “Toy Story” origin tale is directed by “Finding Dory” co-director Angus MacLane. Evans will be voicing the real Buzz Lightyear, the astronaut within the “Toy Story” universe who inspired the action figure.
Produced by Andrea Warren (“Lava,” “Cars 3”), “Luca” centers on a young boy’s unforgettable summer on the Italian Riviera with his secret best friend — a sea monster from another world just below the water’s surface — with whom he shares scooter rides, fun swimming, pasta, and Gelato.
“This is a deeply personal story for me, not only because it’s set on the Italian Riviera where I grew up, but because at the core of this film is a celebration of friendship,” said Casarosa back in July when the project was announced. “Childhood friendships often set the course of who we want to become and it is those bonds that are at the heart of our story in ‘Luca.’ So in addition to the beauty and charm of the Italian seaside, our film will feature an unforgettable summer adventure that will fundamentally change Luca.”
Casarosa has served as head of story at Pixar for the past nine years, working on movies like “Incredibles 2,” the Oscar-winning “Coco,” “The Good Dinosaur,” “Up,” “Ratatouille,” “Cars 2,” and “Cars.” “Luca” has its roots in his Italian-flavored short, “La Luna,” where a young boy rows out to sea in an old wooden boat with his bickering Papa and Grandpa for a magical adventure.
In service of the new Pixar mandate in the post-John Lasseter era, director-turned-chief-creative-officer Pete Docter has put an emphasis on both original storytelling as well as greater cultural authenticity and inclusion, and that begins with “Soul,” which is the Pixar’s first Black-led feature. It’s been showered in raves across the board from critics who’ve seen the film, and looks like the film to beat for the Best Animated Feature Academy Award next year, and could be a contender in other categories.
Execs also announced that Walt Disney Animation Studios title “Raya and the Last Dragon” will go day-and-date in theaters and on Disney+ with premier access on March 5, 2021. Also set for release, in fall 2021, is Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Colombia-set musical “Encanto,” from “Zootopia” filmmakers Byron Howard and Jared Bush, with Lin-Manuel Miranda contributing songs.