And by last minute I mean the final year of production. Today just so happens to be the exact day, one year from now, in which Pixar's Cars 2 arrives in theaters (June 24th, 2011). After hearing rumors for months, Jim Hill Media (via SlashFilm) has confirmed with Disney reps that John Lasseter has returned to Pixar (after moving to Burbank, CA to become the new Chief Creative Officer of Disney) to work on Cars 2. See, it was reported back in February that Lasseter, who normally spends most of his time in LA working on Disney projects, had returned to Emeryville because "there have been story problems that needed to be addressed."
Before anyone freaks out about this, it's not actually uncommon for Pixar movies to go through some rough spots. As Peter from SlashFilm explains: "Any employee of Pixar will be the first to tell you that every movie they've made has been a disaster at one point, that the key to their sucess [sic] is reworking and reworking a project until it becomes something great." Apparently that's exactly what happened with Ratatouille, and that movie turned out fantastic in the end. Word is that Cars 2, which is the one sequel older Pixar fanboys do not want to see, was having "massive story problems" and that Lasseter, who created and directed Cars, returned to fix the issues, helping out Brad Lewis, who is making his directorial debut on this new sequel.
Jim Hill says: "The Disney reps were quite up front about the fact that the Chief Creative Officer of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios is now working side-by-side" with Lewis. Concerns aside, Disney "anticipates that this June 2011 release will be a worthy follow-up to that 2006 Pixar release." So apparently Lasseter will indeed receive official co-director credit on the film in the end, which also isn't uncommon. Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich co-directed Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc, and Finding Nemo before he was given the reigns all by himself on Toy Story 3. So for now it doesn't sound like there's anything to be worried about.
In fact, this might be good news. I trust Lasseter and I think he's definitely got some creative genius in him, which is why I'm assuming (or maybe just hoping) that he came back to make sure that the sequel would be incredible, not just okay. And maybe this means that they're trying their hardest to make sure that Cars 2 doesn't have any story issues like the first one. Although it's debatable, the story and characters are the main reason why so many people consider the original Cars to be one of their least favorite Pixar movies. It's not bad news, but it's certainly very interesting. Cars 2 will still hit theaters next summer, 365 days from today!