For more than 20 years, Pixar has dominated theatrical animated releases with high-grossing films and critical acclaim. Along the way, there have been a handful of ideas they haven't moved forward on. Here are six unproduced short films, feature films, and sequels from Pixar and Disney.
1. Monsters, Inc. 2: Lost In Scaradise
Before Disney acquired Pixar in 2006, Disney’s distribution deal with the animation studio included retaining the Pixar characters' sequel rights—so if Disney wanted to make a sequel to a Pixar film, they could without the involvement of Pixar. Disney opened an animation studio called Circle 7 whose sole purpose was to develop sequels to Pixar properties.
Enter Monsters, Inc. 2: Lost In Scaradise. The unproduced film’s storyline followed Mike and Sulley from the first Monsters, Inc. film as they drop in to surprise their friend Boo for her birthday in the human world. But when they discover that Boo’s family has moved away, Mike and Sulley go on an adventure to try to find her.
The sequel film was later scrapped when Disney closed down Circle 7 in 2006 as part of the Pixar acquisition, but not before Circle 7 developed unproduced sequels for Toy Story 2 and Finding Nemo. Pixar followed up Monsters, Inc. with the prequel Monsters University, which hits theaters today.
2. A Tin Toy Christmas
In 1988, John Lasseter won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for Pixar’s Tin Toy. Following the Oscar win, Pixar started getting more commercial and television work. In 1989, Pixar was commissioned to make a Christmas TV special called A Tin Toy Christmas. When funding for the project ran out, Pixar shelved the project to develop a feature film instead.
A Tin Toy Christmas eventually evolved into the first Toy Story film. Tinny the tin toy soldier became Buzz Lightyear, while the ventriloquist’s dummy became his friend Woody.
3. George and A.J.
After the success of the film Up in 2009, Pixar wanted to make a short film that followed the Shady Oaks Retirement Village employees George and A.J. The short film followed their misadventures after Up’s protagonist Carl Friederickson levitated his house with over 20,000 helium-filled balloons. The film was never finished, but because of Up’s popularity, Pixar decided to release the short film as a bonus feature.
The animation is crude and in a limited “storyboard/animatic” style, but in true Pixar fashion, the short film still conveys a lot of big laughs and touching moments.
4. Car Toons: Mater’s Tall Tales - Backwards to the Forwards
One of the most successful Pixar properties is, surprisingly, Cars. Although the films aren’t as successful as other properties like the Toy Story trilogy or Finding Nemo, Cars merchandise is one of the highest selling markets for Pixar, so spinning off the Cars characters is a top priority.
Pixar has made a number of short films surrounding Tow Mater and Lightning McQueen, but Backwards to the Forwards was one that Pixar abandoned. The short followed the Cars pair through a mysterious thunderstorm that opens up a time portal where Mater and Lightning become trapped. The short was a parody of the science fiction film Back To The Future.
Animator Scott Morse developed the story for the short film, but then scrapped the idea when it wasn’t coming together. Scott Morse also worked on Your Friend the Rat, which accompanied Ratatouille’s DVD release.
5. and 6. The Original Storylines for Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3
Toy Story 2 was originally supposed to be an hour-long direct-to-video sequel, but when Disney executives watched a few completed sequences, they wanted to open the film in theaters instead. So Pixar's artists and writers had to re-assemble the film’s storyline to make it longer for a theatrical release. Pixar executive John Lasseter took over the project and started the story process over again, with only nine months until the film was due to be released in theaters.
While Toy Story 2’s storyline always involved Woody being kidnapped so a toy collector could complete his set of limited edition toys, the original storyline incorporated different toys as part of “Woody’s Roundup” gang. The film introduced a Prospector, who was later developed to become Stinky Pete; Bullseye, Woody’s horse who could talk in the original version; and Senorita Cactus, the Prospector’s evil sidekick, who was eventually replaced with Jessie in the film’s final version.
Toy Story 2’s original storyline was expanded with the addition of Jessie the Cowgirl. Her character gave the final film much needed heart, along with the film’s theme of a toy left behind and forgotten by its owner.
During the film’s nine-month redevelopment, Toy Story 2 was almost completely erased from Pixar’s network and mainframe. Someone at Pixar mistakenly used a command keystroke that led to the film’s disappearance from the Pixar servers. With Toy Story 2’s backup files also corrupted, Pixar would have to start the animation process again with only a few months until its release date. Luckily, the film’s technical director made copies of the film on her home computer, so Toy Story 2’s production was miraculously saved.
In 2005, Disney’s Circle 7 animation studios developed a sequel to Toy Story 2 without Pixar’s involvement. Disney’s script for Toy Story 3 involved a worldwide recall of the Buzz Lightyear toy, so Andy’s mom sent Buzz back to Taiwan, where he had been manufactured, while Andy’s other toys planned a daring escape to save their friend. Tim Allen agreed to voice the character of Buzz Lightyear even if Pixar refused to return.
But in 2006, Disney acquired Pixar, and the original Disney storyline for Toy Story 3 was scrapped. Pixar developed their own version of Toy Story 3. Lee Unkrich was named director and Michael Arndt was commissioned to write a new screenplay. The film was released in 2010 and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.