July 26, 2014

When Can We Expect To See Lee Unkrich’s ‘Día de los Muertos’ Film?

Yesterday, Pixar used the annual CinemaCon convention to announce some release date shuffling, and a title for their previously untitled dinosaur film. That would have been big news in itself, but Pixar wasn’t finished – the biggest news to come out of yesterday’s Disney presentation at the show was easily the announcement of the new film that Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich has recently started working on. The film is set around Mexico’s Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday. When can we expect to see it in theaters? There is no definitive answer as of yet, but find out what the most likely choices are after the jump!


Note: This Is Not Pixar's Art For The Film

The release dates for The Good Dinosaur and Pete Docter’s Untitled Movie That Takes You Inside The Mind were provided, but no set date was given for the Día de los Muertos film. Steven from Collider and Alex from First Showing, who attended the presentation, both confirmed to me that Disney did not give an actual release date. This should clear up a bit of confusion, as some sites have noted that a 2015 date was provided.

We know that Unkrich’s film is heading to theaters after the Pete Docter film, which is arriving on June 19, 2015. That leaves either late 2015 or summer 2016 as the two choices. For the past few years, Disney has scheduled two Pixar films to be released in one year, but has had to push one of the two back each time. To this day, there has never been more than one Pixar feature film released in one year. Could the Día de los Muertos film be the one?

First, let us take a look at the timeline. Lee Unkrich began work on the project in September 2011. Pixar films usually take about four years, including pre and post-production, before they make their way to theaters around the world. That certainly gives this Day of the Dead film the production time it needs. However, a few things need to be taken into account, chief among them being the unpredictability of the schedule. Toy Story 3 is often described as the only Pixar film that did not really face any challenges during production. Every other Pixar film, though, faced at least one major hurdle (often concerning the story), which slowed down the production process.

Also, we have oft-heard about the studio’s determination to “plus” a story until the filmmakers are satisfied. Brave, which is an extreme case, will have gone through a production cycle that lasted about seven years. The lesson here is that Pixar works hard at releasing what it thinks will be a superior product. From its point of view, while a November 2015 release date may be workable (a feat that Disney would love), there is no reason to rush. A May or June 2016 release date would provide additional breathing room, allowing Lee Unkrich and the rest of the team the extra time to give us something special.

Verdict? I would say we are looking at Summer 2016. Looking at the studio’s philosophy and track record, that release date is the one most likely. That may seem like a long time away, but remember that we have four new Pixar feature films (three of which are brand new properties) to keep us occupied until then.

Here is the film’s brief initial synopsis:

From director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson, the filmmaking team behind the Academy Award®-winning “Toy Story 3,” comes a wholly original Pixar Animation Studios film that delves into the vibrant holiday of Día de los Muertos.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

About Samad Rizvi

Samad is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Pixar Times and The Disney Times. His favorite films include The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Vertigo, Back to the Future, Children of Men, Pan's Labyrinth, and of course, Pixar's Monsters, Inc., WALL-E and Up.

  • Alexandro Fantino Pérez Campos

    Aww… I didn’t remember when it was the Lee tweeted that. I thought it was later last year, which would’ve meant the research for the film would be done during this year’s Day of the Dead. But if he tweeted that on September, chances are they made the research last year, WHICH would mean production started on October 2011, and four years from there, would be October 2015 (good math, eh?) WHICH leads me to thinking that the release date may be around late-October and early-to-mid-November 2015, in order to match it with the actual Día de los Muertos holiday, which is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd.

    Well, that’s my logic. But of course it could be that organizing the whole research team in one month (so that they could witness the holiday’s atmosphere) was, perhaps, a little bit too rushed and decided to leave it until next year, i.e. 2012, which would then mean that it may be released a year later: 2016.

    Makes me wonder…

    • http://pixartimes.com Samad Rizvi

      Good point. I am sure releasing it around Dia de los Muertos would be a huge coup for the marketing team. The argument for late 2015 just got a bit stronger!

  • Eddie_buenrostro7833

    Maybe but it might make sense to release it around that holiday which is november 1 so maybe 2015 in November might be A good choice

    • Eddie_buenrsotro7833

      Nevermind I got beat to it lol

  • Dave

    What is this holiday?

    • http://www.facebook.com/arturo.g.barrios Arturo González Barrios

      The mexican point of view of death is pretty different from what you may think. We cope with tragedy making fun of it. Day of the Dead is the day we make fun of the death and celebrate those who have being caught by it. We write poems to our beloved ones about how they are going to die or in other cases how they escape death. But not in that frightening horror movie perspective, it is a very light and kind hearted tradition.

  • Pixar2014

    this film sounds interesting considering that Lee Unkrich is totally into The Shining.  I wouldn’t be suprised to see several elements of horror in this film.  

    Also, I can see the subject matter really pushing Pixar’s artists to develop a new aesthetic for the film.  Definitely a breeding ground for some incredible design work, not to mention a possibility for some 2D sequences, maybe?  

    Life and death.  Big subject to tackle. Redemption is all I can think of.

    • http://www.facebook.com/arturo.g.barrios Arturo González Barrios

      Hmmm there is nothing about horror in this celebration. We mexican people find death very humorous and Day of the Dead is a celebration in which we laugh from death, do jokes about friends and family escaping the grim reaper and eating lots of food. Day of the Death is about family and fun.