Pixar Post - Julie
In a recent interview (with The Australian) Ed Catmull describes the collaboration between the "Brain Trust" of both Pixar Animation Studios and Disney Animation Studios - which helped assist in roadblocks from each studios latest hits 'Inside Out' and 'Zootopia'.

They were kept separate for years until Pixar was “a little stuck” with Inside Out. The Disney Braintrust “looked at the film and they helped pick at a problem that was in the way. As soon as we heard [their answer], we realiszed it was true and ‘oh, we’ve got two groups of people who like each other, they want each other to succeed, they speak the same language, they know what it means to give meaningful notes and they’re fresh eyes’. Later, the Pixar Braintrust found two flaws holding back Zootopia.
“Then I realised not only do we have a Braintrust, which is unique in the industry, but we have two of them,” Catmull says with a laugh. “And it gives Disney an incredible strength to have two groups, who once per film can give feedback to the other — and only once per film, because no longer are they fresh eyes.”

The article sparked a few additional questions and we want to know your thoughts — how do you feel about the blending and overlap of the two studios? Do you think the overlap is better because it helps improve the animation between the two studios as a whole? Do you think the two studios should stay separate in order to keep two unique identities (therefore potentially crafting films with greater variance between them)? 

(To read the rest of the interview and our complete wrap-up click here - http://pxrpst.co/1Rh2cPf)
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I think the blending of Disney Animation and Pixar Animation is great. I love both studios equally. They have both made amazing films that have changed the world forever. The merger is great, I think it is great that Disney and Pixar Animation are helping each other out, to make their films the best they can be. I loved some of the recent WDAS films (Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6 & Zootopia), I also have loved some of the recent Pixar Films (Cars 2, Brave, Monsters University, Inside Out & The Good Dinosaur). So I think it is really great that the two are helping each other out to make their films as fantastic as possible. I admire Disney and Pixar Animation for that, putting in the extra effort to make their films great! I'm interested to hear on what you and TJ, think about this blending, Julie. 
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I think it would be terrible if the two studios were to merge, given how independent and unique both are right now, so I'm not too sure what to think of this. I'm a bit concerned that, yes, this does erode their independence a bit, but Catmull does say that the other studio only looks at it once because only once can the other studio be a fresh pair of eyes.

I think most of the discussion around the blending of Pixar and WDAS has largely been centered on the Pixarfication of WDAS, due to Lasseter and Catmull from Pixar being placed in charge of WDAS in 2006. Wreck-It Ralph and Zootopia are two original stories that I'd say more closely resemble something Pixar would make, instead of what we traditionally expect from Disney; however, WDAS still dabbles in what they used to do, as we've seen with The Princess and the Frog and Frozen. I call it Pixarfication because it seems to me that WDAS, much like minor players in the market such as Warner or Illumination, is shifting towards what Pixar does simply because Pixar has been the most successful; alternatively, you could also say WDAS is simply modernizing and resemblance is coincidental. But if Pixar's folks are in charge of WDAS and running it with Pixar tactics like the Brain Trust, then it is inevitable that it will become more like Pixar - which was the intention of Disney, after all.

What I wouldn't want though, is Pixar becoming more like Disney. With films like Brave (Merida is the only Disney Princess from a Pixar movie) and Coco (looks like WDAS will lose their exclusive hold on musicals next year) it's arguable that Pixar is moving closer to Disney, but other than those two examples I don't think there's enough to draw any direct comparisons. Inside Out feels like a Pixar movie through and through, even though now I'm finding out apparently WDAS helped out a bit with it.

My main concern is Disney trying to make "Pixar" synonymous with "Disney." Of Disney's three major film acquisitions - Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm - Pixar is the only one subjected to having "Disney" stuck to its front to make "Disney•Pixar" and the only one where the Disney logo shows in front their movies. Marvel is still Marvel, it doesn't become Disney•Marvel and the Disney logo doesn't show in front of Marvel films.

Take a look at this, for example:

This is one of many of Disney's attempts on social media to brand Pixar movies like Up, Toy Story, and The Incredibles as "Disney" movies alongside WDAS movies. It's gotten to the point where my less knowledgable friends call Pixar movies "Disney" movies. Sure, it's technically correct in the sense that Pixar is owned by the Walt Disney Corporation, but personally I think it misleads people into thinking WDAS and Pixar are not separate entities, especially since posts like these purposely exclude any live-action or television properties from Disney, including Marvel and Star Wars.

This kind of strategy may make sense for business, if you take a look back to the mid-2000s, when WDAS was floundering and Pixar was on fire — blending the two would certainly have helped WDAS films at the box office, even if it's in a misleading way. And Disney's purchase of Pixar certainly helped accelerate that, since now WDAS is run by Pixar's top officials. But it's misleading to the public and I think it's unfair for Pixar to be lumped in with WDAS and have both be branded as just "Disney".

Looking back, I'd say Pixar has been pretty successful at maintaining their independence in the past two decades, so I don't think there will be ant drastic changes to that for a while, unless Pixar movies stop making enough money to satisfy Disney. However, given Disney's exploitation of the Pixar brand, their soft push for more Pixar sequels, and now things like this (the Brain Trust thing in the article), it does make me wonder where Pixar will be in the next ten, twenty, or thirty years in terms of their independence. I'd much prefer separate entities, but if stuff like this helps make their movies better, I'm also fine with that - there's no reason to shy away from experimenting with new strategies. But if Pixar and WDAS were ever to merge, that would definitely be a big cause for concern because then that's the complete loss of the identity of one of the two studios, and with that their distinct style, history, etc.

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Pixar Post - T.J.
I definitely agree with some of the comments that Pixar is not going anywhere for now. I only include the words "for now" because you never know. Like it was mentioned, Disney has a big profit motive (since they're a business you can't blame them) and if Pixar were to ever self implode and some of the senior leaders were no longer there, you just "never know". I mean, there were serious talks of what should happen with Disney Animation for a while there...so time will tell, but I don't see any reason why it would change anytime soon. 

But...we're here to talk about "now" though. I definitely have some concerns at a high level because I think having two very unique voices is best achieved by a pretty thick line between the companies. There has been blurring of the lines which I was never OK with (like Planes...which I felt diluted the Cars franchise), but others that haven't been of any concern. Catmull has said that when anyone in animation does well, it raises the entire industry. To that end, I agree 100%. Which is where I'm OK with sharing ideas, tactics and such (like the overall Brain Trust).

It does make me wonder though how and if this would have changed if Steve Jobs were still able to be active with the company. He so strongly believed in controlling things from end-to-end (the software and the hardware for Apple and the story, look and feel for Pixar). Pixar has always had a slightly more open-ended sharing view (with the ability to purchase Renderman and the Pixar Research Library)...but that was set up by Catmull's beliefs early on. But would Steve feel differently since they're under the same parent company...we'll never fully know! I mean, I know he set up the purchase deal, but it was very clear that he wanted the companies to be individual (at least at that time).

I guess one of the other reasons this idea came up for me was around Disney's dominance. As more and more articles talk about how Disney has taken the throne from Pixar it just doesn't make me feel good hearing that. It seems weird that on one hand people talk about how they're the same company (including the Marketing Reptile Patrol chatted about), but when it comes time to comparing the films, people want to push them as far apart as possible. 

I'm definitely happy that the films will benefit from the success of both companies together and for now, that's my take.
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