Disney, Opinions, Pixar

What’s Happening with Pixar’s ‘Day of the Dead’ Project?

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Dia de los Muertos

By now, much has been made of Disney/Pixar’s announcement of Toy Story 4 and the divisive responses that came with it. But while the animation community continues to do some soul searching regarding the existence of Toy Story 4, I would like to turn some of our attention to another Pixar film that’s been out of the public eye for a while, causing me to personally have doubts about its continued development: the untitled Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead project.

First off, let me point you to two release dates set for untitled films from Pixar: November 22, 2017 and June 15, 2018. Assuming I’m wrong and a Pixar ‘Day of the Dead’ movie is still happening, I’m willing to bet that the film will be land on either one of these dates. Originally, it was announced that the film will be coming out in 2016. I highly doubt that that will be the case now, since there’s absolutely nothing on the 2016 section of the animation calendar that indicates that that Pixar will be releasing a second film in 2016 (if at all). And if they had anything to show us from the project, we probably would have seen it at the same time Disney unveiled the concept art for Moana.

In any case, it would seem that this project, like The Good Dinosaur, Brave, and several other Pixar films before it, is in a state of flux. It’s not too uncommon at Pixar (and indeed other animation studios) for a project to hit some major road bumps and have the higher ups step in to fix everything. In this context, the speed bump that slowed the Day of the Dead project was not only major, it was a very, very public speed bump.

Last year, it was widely publicized that Disney had tried to trademark the Dia de los Muertos name for various products. This drew swift criticism and universal scrutiny from the Mexican community on the grounds that you simply can’t put a trademark on a holiday that’s deeply rooted in culture and tradition. Realizing the error of their ways, they withdrew the applications and confirmed that they will be changing the name of the film (which in itself loosely confirmed that Dia de los Muertos would have been the actual title of the film at some point).

What my be their second biggest hurdle in getting the film made? Trying to differentiate themselves from other Day of the Dead based projects like this year’s The Book of Life. Now, would something like The Book of Life absolutely tank Pixar’s Day of the Dead film the way Rio tanked Newt? It’s hard to tell because again, we’ve pretty much been subjected to complete and utter white noise about it. But one thing’s for sure: The Book of Life all but blew the door wide open for various other studios. Which means that for Pixar it will be less a matter of “Oh, this movie managed to make the holiday work for general audiences, we should do one too!” and more of a “Oh boy, we might have to do some rewrites on our script.”

For example (and to complicate matters even more), there’s another Day of the Dead film on the way that will come out in 2016. Titled Dia de Muertos, the film will be directed by Carlos Gutierrez Medrano and is currently in development at his Guadalajara-based Metacube studio in Jalisco, Mexico. Below is the 58-second conceptual preview and poster:

day-of-dead-poster

According to the Animation Scoop blog, the film has been in development since 2007 when they registered the title and began work on the screenplay. In 2012, the studio received funding from several sources that allowed production to officially commence. Over 40 reported development artists are working on the film and an unnamed studio in France will also be teaming up with Metacube Studios on the film. It’s currently not known if the film will reach the states, but there’s always a possibility.

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Having said all of that, would Pixar’s film still have a chance of being made? Yes. If anything, three animated films based on the Day of the Dead would probably end up looking very much like three animated films based on the Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday. The real challenge for Pixar would be to deliver a film that manages to be great while respecting the culture of the holiday its portraying onscreen.

Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Day of the Dead concept falls through completely and Pixar just ends up giving Lee Unkrich (the director) another idea to work with.

What do you think? After The Book of Life, can Pixar succeed at a Day of the Dead film?

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About Brandon Smith

Brandon is your average nerd with a love for nerdy things (games, comics, anime/manga, etc.). He also loves reading and writing and plans to be an author someday. For now, he writes with passion and curiosity about the world of animation. He lives with his family in North Carolina and is currently attending college.
  • George Comerci

    We’re getting so many Day of the Dead movies! >.< All I can say is, Pixar better work hard to make sure their movie is better than The Book of Life.

    • Christine Cornell Porter

      Pixar will have to work hard to make sure their movie is better than “The Book of Life”…

  • james rath

    I almost feel as if the third movie based on the same idea (here:holiday) is better than being the second film; does that make sense to anyone but me? I hope Pixar continues and makes their film; I wholly believe in it. I still mourn for Newt.

  • Guest

    First of all, really creepy clip you got there and second I hope Pixar can succeed with a Day of the Dead movie I mean Book of Life was so amazing and I hope Pixar can top with their movie too, I mean Pixar is just plainly almost perfect (Except for those Cars movies)

  • First of all, really creepy clip you got there and second I hope Pixar
    can succeed with a Day of the Dead movie I mean Book of Life was so
    amazing and I hope Pixar can top with their movie too, I mean Pixar is
    just plainly almost perfect

  • I don’t have any reason to think Pixar’s Day of the Dead film isn’t still being worked on. And I agree with your possible dates of November 22, 2017 or June 15, 2018. While ComingSoon.net at one time had 2016 as a release date, that was only a rumor and never officially confirmed. Given what Unkrich did with Toy Story 3, I’m really excited to see his take on this holiday!

  • Manuel Orozco

    Whatever happens happens. Pixar better rethink what they are doing with sequels and original projects or I’m going to lead fellow animation fans in a war of rage against Bob Iger

  • Where as newt carried a very similar plot to rio I think this project has a better survival chance. For the reason stated “If anything, three animated films based on the Day of the Dead would probably end up looking very much like three animated films based on the Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday”.

  • Walshy

    I was at a pixar seminar in Sydney two years ago hosted by lee Unkrich. He showed us logos for the good dinosaur, inside out and dia de Los Muertos before announcing finding dory in the Sydney opera house as we sat in Sydney harbour. The logo for dia de Los Muertos said exactly that so I’d say that was the title and they’ve had to change it.

  • Chinoiserie

    I do not think we know for sure that it was Rio that led Newt being canceled, it is more fan speculation. But I do worry about Dia de los Muertos since I have been waiting for so long.

  • Yury Vladimir Galindo Ramos

    I hope pixar dont make the Movie, book of life was passable because Guillermo del Toro was involved, and dia de muertos is a mexican film, sí rey but i dont Wang yo ser Disney on this subject

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