Pixar President Jim Morris On Sequels Cut-Off: ‘Our Business Model Is A Filmmaker Model’

Pixar Jim Morris

Pixar made headlines earlier this week by deciding to stay away from developing sequels to its hit movies – at least for now.

For more than two decades, Pixar has built a solid collection of original stories with memorable characters. Many of those hit movies — including Wall-E, Ratatouille,Up, and A Bug’s Life — have not been revisited with sequels. With the studio’s decision to apparently stay away from releasing sequels for a while after 2019, many longtime Pixar fans and critics may have been confused by the news.

Think about the hundreds of millions of dollars that the studio is potentially walking away from by taking a break from building blockbuster franchises. However, according to Pixar president Jim Morris, there is a method to the apparent madness that speaks volumes about the artistic side of Pixar.

Morris opened up in an interview with Entertainment Weekly about the development process working behind the scenes at the studio.

“Most studios jump on doing a sequel as soon as they have a successful film, but our business model is a filmmaker model, and we don’t make a sequel unless the director of the original film has an idea that they like and are willing to go forward on. A sequel in some regards is even harder [than the original] because you’ve got this defined world which, on the one hand, is a leg up, and on the other hand has expectations that you can’t disappoint on.”

Morris further explained the strategy that Pixar used when it came to developing originals and sequels — including the mixed ratio between the two different types of films that the studio has successfully maintained over the years.

According to Morris, the plan was “to make an original every year and a sequel every other year if the idea came forth to do it.”

“If we add the next films after the current ones, it actually comes out to exactly that: seven sequels in a spate of 21 originals, from the time we were acquired by Disney [in 2006]. So it’s penciled out to be the same portfolio, just not in the order we thought they would be. And a lot of that has to do with when Andrew [Stanton] had a sequel idea, and Brad [Bird] had a sequel idea…sometimes that’s just how it happens.”

Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments about this reported Pixar sequel cut-off is the fact that this means the door is closed (at least for now) on a follow-up sequel to the hit movie, WALL-E.

The 2008 hit about an adorable robot in love and an abandoned planet, which was directed by Andrew Stanton, generated over $520 million at the box-office.

Without offering any spoilers about the movie, the happy ending of the WALL-E left a lot of unanswered questions in regards to what would happen next to the cute, little robot with an admiration for Hello Dolly show tunes. Apparently, the lack of a follow-up sequel to WALL-E doesn’t just affect fans and critics of the popular film. According to Morris, the movie had a special place in his heart as well.

“WALL-E is close to my heart since I produced it. It would be good to back and visit that world and let everybody know that the humans actually survived again after getting back to their burnt-out planet. But that was really a love story that had its beginning, middle, and end, so we’re not really planning any further stories in those worlds at this point.”

Keep in mind that Pixar has quite a few solid sequel options that will be released before the indefinite hiatus for follow-ups in 2019 — including The Incredibles 2, Cars 3, and Toy Story 4.

Does this mean that Pixar does not currently have any post-2019 movie plans in development? Of course not! Morris confirmed that there are a number of original projects in development, including two films currently listed on Disney’s schedule for theatrical release in March and June of 2020.

[Image Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]