A case could be made that Monsters, Inc was the second most important film Pixar ever made. The first is obviously Toy Story. The whole reason the financially-strapped studio got to continue making movies was because its first feature went over so well, but at some point, Pixar stopped being just a studio and became a brand unto itself. You would hear your friends ask when the next Pixar movie was coming out, much in the same way they’d ask about the next James Bond or Woody Allen flicks. The moment that happened, whenever it was, cannot possibly be overstated, and I’d argue it occurred after the success of Monsters, Inc. It may not have grossed as much money as Finding Nemo or gotten as brilliant of reviews as Toy Story, but it was like an exclamation point telling the world, “our name is synonymous with quality”. When you look at it that way, it’s no wonder the studio has returned to make a prequel.

Two days ago, we finally got a title, Monsters University, and a plot description, Mike and Sully meet and become friends, but now we have another wire in the scaring machine. Longtime Pixar story artist Dan Scanlon will helm the film. He’s previously handled the short Mater and Ghostlight, but it’ll be interesting to see what he does with more screen time. I’d never underestimate the importance of a director, but with Pixar being such a collaborative studio, it would seem a perfect place for a first timer to find his legs.

We’re still a long way off from seeing a completed product. Right now, Monsters University isn’t scheduled until November of 2012, but with the principal voice actors back, there’s no reason to think it won’t live up to the Pixar name.

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