Last August, we found out that director Bob Peterson had been taken off The Good Dinosaur after the film apparently hit creative difficulties. A group of Pixar directors including Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3), Mark Andrews (Brave), John Lasseter (Toy Story), and the film’s original co-director Pete Sohn took over. We still do not know who took over as lead director (if anyone did, that is), but we hear that the film’s story has been overhauled. Find more details after the break!
The original story of the film, which took place after the asteroid that led to the extinction of dinosaurs actually missed Earth, had a dinosaur named Arlo set out on an adventure with a human boy named Spot. Several scenes from the film were even shown at the D23 Expo in early August 2013. However, that was before Pixar decided to delay the film. Their reasoning? The studio wanted to ensure that a quality film made it to theaters, but a release date change was necessary for story changes to take place.
Apparently, the story has changed rather significantly since then, according to an interview Collider did with actor John Lithgow, who was originally cast as Poppa, Arlo’s father. Lithgow stated:
“I recorded the entire role in Good Dinosaur. They have now dismantled it and completely reimagined it, and it is a fantastic new story. So I’m gonna record again on it within the next month. Don’t worry. It’s coming and it’s gonna be better than I ever imagined.”
Although Lithgow is still attached to the film, we do not yet know the effects of the story changes on other actors who were originally cast. Lucas Neff was cast as Arlo, while Frances McDormand was set to play Momma, and Bill Hader, Neil Patrick Harris, and Judy Greer were to voice Arlo’s siblings. Given major changes to the story, it is possible that entire characters had to be changed or even written out.
It seems that The Good Dinosaur is following in the footsteps of Toy Story 2. That film hit major snags creatively before the story was essentially thrown out. You never would have known the troubles the film encountered from seeing the final product, which remains among Pixar’s best. The studio is clearly hoping for similar results with The Good Dinosaur. We won’t know whether the story changes and delay were beneficial to the film until it makes it to theaters but we can certainly hope it does.
The Good Dinosaur is set for release on November 25, 2015. However, I would not be surprised to see it pushed into 2016. Inside Out is already scheduled for June 2015, making The Good Dinosaur the second Pixar release of the year. Although the studio has aimed to release two films in one year several times, we have not yet seen that happen. We will have to wait and see. Stay tuned for more details as we learn more!