EXCLUSIVE: Pixar Developing Cars Spinoff Planes
Cars may not have been Pixar's biggest moneymaker when it was released in theaters, but the franchise has been a monster hit when it comes to merchandise, raking in several billion dollars in a relatively under-the-radar fashion. Next summer's release of Cars 2 should boost that figure even further, but then again, kids may be in no rush to replace the Lightning McQueen plush toy they already bought back in 2006. How do you refresh the brand? With planes, of course.
Movieline hears that Pixar is currently developing Planes as a semi-sequel and spinoff franchise to Cars, one meant to take advantage of the enormously lucrative direct-to-video market. It's a format that Pixar has flirted with before -- Toy Story 2 was once meant to go direct to video, and Toy Story 3 was originally developed for DVD in a semi-unauthorized fashion by Disney before Pixar head John Lasseter took over the company -- but with Planes, Pixar could leverage the Cars brand without diluting its bigscreen appeal.
That's a priority for Lasseter, who took the reins at Disney after an era where the company cranked out uninspired DTV sequels to some of its most beloved properties (Cinderella II and The Lion King 1 1/2, anyone?). Then again, Lasseter may have relaxed Pixar's early hesitation about getting into the sequel business: in addition to Toy Story 3 this year and Cars 2 next year, 2012 will see a bigscreen follow-up to Monsters, Inc.