Here we are just shy of the release of Disney / Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur, the studio’s second release this year, and yet I find myself (A huge Pixar fan) nowhere near as a excited as I feel I should be.
Pixar has never released two feature length films within the same year. Until last year, the studio had a consistent streak of releasing one film a year starting with Finding Nemo in 2003 and continuing through 2013 with Monsters University (It should be noted that The Good Dinosaur was supposed to fill what is now the 2014 “gap”). This spacing out of releases left audiences with enough time to digest a film while also leaving enough time without one to build up interest and excitement about the studio’s next release. Two films practically back to back just seems to quick. There’s not as much of a desire for a new Pixar film, because that desire has been satisfied with Inside Out.
The short turnaround between films has also led to a shorter marketing campaign for the new release. Looking at Inside Out’s campaign, there was much more time to introduce characters, release clips, build excitement, etc. With The Good Dinosaur, I found it hard to get excited about the new film when I was still singing the praises of the previous one. So much focus was put on Inside Out and the buildup to that film, that the first real solid look at The Good Dinosaur didn’t occur until only a few months before its release. Even looking at publicity for upcoming releases, Finding Dory, which comes out next year, has already started some teasers and is arguably drawing more excitement than The Good Dinosaur (though obviously Finding Nemo is a big reason).
Since Inside Out was such a critical success and perhaps one of Pixar’s best films in years, it’s hard to look at The Good Dinosaur as anything other than a “b-movie.” This new release has a lot to live up to. Given Pixar’s track record, The Good Dinosaur will likely be a decent film, however, the big question remains how it will compare to this summer’s success. Even bigger for Pixar, is that with releases such as Monsters University and Cars 2, the studio’s image has been slipping. This issue was presumably fixed with Inside Out, yet it’s possible that if The Good Dinosaur doesn’t perform up to those standards, all the good done by this summer’s release could be taken away.
With their release dates so close together, Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur will frequently be compared to each other. In fact The Good Dinosaur could have a huge effect on how Inside Out is viewed. If The Good Dinosaur is a huge success then Inside Out could be seen as the studio returning to form, so to speak, of hit classic films. The reverse of that is if The Good Dinosaur doesn’t perform as well, Inside Out could then be seen as just a “happy accident” while the studio continues to struggle to reach its previous success.
The Good Dinosaur has had a long journey to the big screen and has had it’s fair share of problems during its production including changing voice casts, re-working the story, changing directors and having its release date pushed back from its original target of 2014. It’s interesting to consider just how much faith Pixar actually has in their new release, given all that has happened. Overall though, what everything boils down to is how The Good Dinosaur performs, do well and all doubts are cast aside, do poor, and it will just be remembered as “that other Pixar film from 2015.” Of course as always, we’ll just have to let the film speak for itself.