Scanning through my feedreader last week, I happened across a Slate article entitled (depressingly) "How Pixar Lost Its Way." It got to its deeply demoralizing and gloomy point pretty much right away (to put us out of our misery, I suspect):
The painful verdict is all but indisputable: The golden era of Pixar is over. It was a 15-year run of unmatched commercial and creative excellence, beginning with Toy Story in 1995 and culminating with the extraordinary trifecta of WALL·E in 2008, Up in 2009, and Toy Story 3 (yes, a sequel, but a great one) in 2010. Since then, other animation studios have made consistently better films. The stop-motion magicians at Laika have supplied such gems as Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings. And, in a stunning reversal, Walt Disney Animation Studios—adrift at the time of its 2006 acquisition of the then-untouchable Pixar—has rebounded with such successes as Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and Big Hero 6.
Two quick thoughts: First, concern over Pixar's demise has been going on for some time, but this one seemed awfully hand-wringy and despairing to me. As a fundamentally/dangerously optimistic person--both with regards to cinema and life--I'm much more receptive to this kind of sober-yet-not-entirely hopeless contribution from my friend, Steven Greydanus.
Second, I'm unconvinced--emphatically so--that those last three films are "rebound successes" in anything but a monetary sense. But let's leave that trolling for a later date, because what really struck (and held) my fancy was the fact that I hit this headline only a few minutes later: "Pixar Created An Experimental Shorts Division, First Film Is SMASH AND GRAB."
Sure, I love shorts, so my ears perked right up. But the real gold nugget in here was the point that the division in question was designed "to create short films WITHOUT EXECUTIVE OVERSIGHT, to explore new creative visions and increase studio opportunities."
Emphasis mine. AND HOW.