Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > Entertainment

Disney and Pixar Prioritizing Audience Appeal Over Imaginative Ideas

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TX State chapter.

For over a century, children and adults have been entertained by the magic and wonder that is Disney and Pixar animated films. Creating original characters like Mickey Mouse, Woody and Buzz Lightyear, and even making an entire catalog of princesses instantly recognizable, these franchises hold a place in the hearts of both adults and children. Though in recent years, with the constant advances in technology, as well as the ever-elusive business strategies of these multi-billion dollar companies, it is becoming glaringly obvious that the executives in charge are solely concerned with the amount of profit gained from a project, rather than the plot and message behind it. 

The most recent project for Pixar is the anticipated release of Inside Out 2. Many people are excited to be revisiting the emotions of Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust, while also getting to meet the new, more mature emotions of Anxiety, Embarrassment, Envi, Ennui, and Nostalgia. From the trailers that were released, people have been curious to see the new emotions adapt inside the mind of now 13-year-old Riley Anderson. This film is set to come to theaters on June 14.

With this release of the full trailer of the Pixar film came more confirmations on sequels from Disney, including Moana 2, Frozen 3, Frozen 4, and Toy Story 5. While these additions to these storylines are not surprising due to the minimal box office success of newer films such as Wish, A Strange World and Elemental, it is still disappointing to see that the studios are backtracking so far. 

In a piece from Variety, Disney CEO Bob Iger states, “specifically in animation, we had gone through a period where our original films and animation, both Disney and Pixar, were dominating. We’re now swinging back a bit to lean on sequels.” 

This statement almost comes off as if Disney executives are seemingly out of ideas. This makes it even harder to believe that this company was the one to bring many beloved characters to life, such as Winnie the Pooh, Stitch, and even Princesses Anna and Elsa. 

From another perspective, this revelation about the “House of Mouse” is even more devastating considering the Writer’s Strike only ended nine months prior and the Actor’s Strike ended only seven months ago. This declaration from the Walt Disney Company mainly pushes original stories farther behind as the company aims to make more follow-up stories instead of working to produce something that is completely original.

For Pixar specifically, the idea of making sequels to their former projects is a harsh conformity for many of their animators, as most of their original content was not allowed to have a theatrical release because of the Covid-19 pandemic. These films include Soul, Luca, and Turning Red. With these films being released on Disney+, there were not many advertisements and promotional marketing that were done for these films, which ultimately prevented viewership from wider audiences. 

Another complaint that has come to the surface of this debate is that mass audiences are nostalgic for  the original animation style of hand-drawn animation that was done on films from the Disney Renaissance period, such as “The Lion King,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” with the last film of this style being “The Princess and the Frog,” released on December 11, 2009. 

In the past decade, Disney has shifted to a highly computer-generated animation style as technology for this form has only improved. For a period, films such as “Tangled,” “Frozen,” “Coco,” “Wreck-It Ralph,” and “Moana” were breaking box office records with their stories of family values and finding one’s place and true passion in life. The difference behind these films and what has been released in 2023 is that their predecessors were built with a complete story in mind. 

Ultimately the entertainment industry is shifting more and more every day in hopes that the majority of people will be satisfied with the content that is presented to them. Studio executives feel that box office success after the first day of being in a movie theater is enough to determine the overall outlook for a project. And somewhere along the way of pushing this belief system, they seem to have erased the magic that they once provided to generations of families. Only time will tell if these studios can reignite the spark they formerly gave to us. This new reality leaves me pondering a familiar question: If you wish upon a star, do your dreams really come true?

Kayla Alonzo

TX State '25

Kayla Alonzo is a new member of the Writer's Team with Her Campus at Texas State University. She is a third year Theatre and Dance Major studying Design and Technology with an emphasis in Stage Management. Kayla is also an aspiring writer and playwright who continues to create original pieces about personal connections from her experiences and those around her. In her spare time, Kayla enjoys listening to her favorite artists, watching plays and musicals, and spending time with her friends and family.