Jim Morris takes fire at rumours of a crisis at Pixar
Jim Morris, president of Pixar, is in Dublin for the Irish Visual Effects & Animation Summit and for the launch of The Good Dino
saur, the studio’s Christmas release. I need to broach a sensitive issue.
The public feel protective about Pixar Animation. The company was actually formed way back in 1974 as a cadre within Lucasfilm, but didn’t register with general audiences for another 20 years.
The release of Toy Story in 1995 ranks alongside the arrival of sound and the invention of colour as a key innovation in the industry.
Like the moon landing, the first computer-generated feature happened a little sooner than the technology seemed to allow.
More surprising still, it was absolutely super. Pixar has now raised a generation of children. It is – alongside corporate partners Walt Disney – one of the very few film companies whose work has a clear (and likable) identity. Who would say a bad word against them?
Whisper it. In the past few years, after an uninterrupted run of critical smashes, Pixar looked to have sunk into something of a slump. Brave got so-so reviews. Mon
sters University received shrugs. Cars 2 – sequel to the marginally more lovely original – got genuine stinkers from the critics. It is for this reason that Inside
Out, a lovely epic set inside a young girl’s head, was celebrated as a “return to form” earlier in the year. Pixar fans weren’t just happy there was a good film in cinemas. It was a little as if an ill friend had made a remarkable recovery.
Does Morris buy this? Was there a crisis?
“What people aren’t aware of is that we were making Inside
Out as we were making all those other films,” he says. “So the no- tion of a ‘return to form’ is hard for us to credit. Some people like some films more than others.
Cars 2 was a high concept film that was not as deeply emotional.
Brave had a Princess feel to it, which maybe felt more like Disney. Monsters University is a great film, but it’s a franchise. In the gestalt of that group preceding Inside Out there was nothing that felt like a new chapter in the story. I can appreciate why people would have that feeling.”
Does that sound like an admission? I can’t say for certain.
“We try to do our best with them. There are people who tell me Cars 2 is their favourite film.” Okay then. Morris, who looks like a smoother John Banville, has had a busy career. A graduate of Syracuse University, he began as a