Late last month, news that excited fans looking forward to The Incredibles 2 had the unfortunate effect of disappointing those anticipating Toy Story 4. Pixar decided to mix up their schedule a bit, and revealed that the two movies have switched release dates -- with Incredibles 2 set to come out on June 15, 2018 and Toy Story 4 slated for June 21, 2019. This naturally got a big reaction, as in Hollywood bumping a movie a full year is never seen as a good thing... but now Andrew Stanton has explained why there really is no reason for Pixar junkies to be concerned about Woody, Buzz, and their pals.
With Finding Dory having been release on Blu-ray and DVD this week, I recently had the pleasure of chatting with writer/director Andrew Stanton over the phone, and the last thing we discussed was the situation with The Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 4. Given that Stanton has been with Pixar from the beginning, I decided to get his thoughts on the release date switch and what it meant -- and he explained why those worried about the status of the latter film are making a mountain out of a molehill. Said the director,
There's no big conspiracy about anything, even though I know that would be juicy. The truth is that every time we develop films, we always have five or six films privately that we're in the middle of developing. We've learned over time to make them like magnets, because what we want to be respectful for is whether the stories are ready or not. So we end up, for economic reasons, we end up having to announce sometimes when a film might be released, but then we go, 'Wait a minute, we want more time on the story to really nail it.' So if we find that another film on the stove is going well, and we can move it up, then we do a swap, so there's no more drama than we just want to get the stories just right.
Following up on the magnet comment, I asked if Andrew Stanton would describe things as fluid as far as release dates for upcoming projects are concerned. He not only said yes, but explained that Pixar would much rather just stay totally silent about anything beyond the immediate present:
It's always been like that. I think if we had our way, we would never announce our slates, period, until we were done so that we don't create phantom drama.
Unfortunately for Andrew Stanton and Pixar, things don't work that way in the modern film industry. It's become very important for studios to look deep into the future and start planting flags on the release date calendar -- partially for marketing and buzz-building, but also just because major weekends disappear fast to competition otherwise. It becomes a gamble because of the bad PR that can come packaged with a release date switch (i.e. what happened with The Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 4), but so long as the finished product stands up for itself, it doesn't really matter at the end.