Pixar has been on a high lately with the recent success of its animated sequel Inside Out 2. However, that hasn't always been the case. In recent years, especially after the pandemic, the studio has been in a slum from 2022's Lightyear and Turning Red, 2021's Luca and 20202's soul.

Chief creative officer Pete Docter spoke with Entertainment Weekly and is quite chipper and downright elated about Pixar's future. While Inside Out 2 is a massive boon to the studio, they're still going to emphasize original storytelling and has two non-sequels on their slate: Elio and an as-yet-unannounced project.

Pixar in a “golden place”

Inside Out 2 characters surrounded by money

“I feel like we're in a really golden place where, after a lot of turmoil, every project we have is exciting to me for multiple reasons — both from new looks and technology, but more importantly, original stories and storytellers,” Docter began.

However, he tempered this with caution, “I've been at Pixar for 33 years and I don't think we've ever been in a period of more turmoil and uncertainty than right now, which is kind of exciting. I know that's weird maybe to say.”

He spoke about the recently announced Inside Out series on Disney+ and said that it's already finished and will be released next spring with no specific date set yet.

“But in the first film, remember we go to Dream Production to see how Riley's dreams are made? It semi-explains why they're so weird. We've continued the exploration of the power of dreams and how they affect us in our waking life, as well. So it's pretty cool,” Docter explained.

With an Inside Out spinoff series, how does Pixar choose which one gets a streaming version and which one gets released in theaters? The animation studio boss doesn't exactly have an answer. He likens it to the Wild West with everyone trying to keep up with how things work in a changed world. He also talked about Disney+ being announced right before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and being asked by Disney CEO Bog Iger and co-chairman Alan Bergman for Pixar projects specifically for the streaming service.

Streaming figures are still confusing

“But that was really before anyone had an understanding of the economics of how it all works. How much can you spend on a show, and how do you even track what it made? A box office is super easy. Three people came in, I know I can count the money exactly. With streaming, depending on how you divide it up, do you get more money to do something that's new or that attracts new viewers? It's very squirrely,” Docter elaborated.

When he was asked about his opinion with Pixar reportedly prioritizing sequels over originals, the studio chief said that his statement about delivering more of what people know and leaning away from their [Pixar creatives] personal experiences was misinterpreted.

“All of that's true to some degree, but I think what we're always trying to do is find what are the universal things that everybody believes, both in terms of concepts and in terms of life experience … We're looking for those kinds of big, universal things that people go, ‘I already know that it's an original idea, but it's a concept that I had, too,'” he added.

Pixar's currently announced planned project such as Elio and Toy Story 5 are currently in development. There's another original project before the fifth Toy Story movie will be released. As for franchises, the creative chief said that while he initially thought that there would be a rule or a formula to determine which films turn into franchises or get sequels, there unfortunately isn't.

“It should be something hopefully the audience responded to,” he continued.

Which gets a franchise or a sequel?

As for a third Monsters, Inc. movie, the studio has been looking for ideas, but Docter said they haven't seen enough of them to start developing anything. However, sequels have proven to be quite successful for Pixar. In fact, their most lucrative project to date is Incredibles 2. The studio chief, though, said they're while they're looking at everything, they don't have a list of those films. I'd like to point out that I do.

Going back to Elio, he said that the film asks the questions, “Are we alone? Are we the only intelligent life in the universe? Am I the only one going through this?”

It seems Pixar is on its way to bouncing back to its pre-2020 numbers. With Inside Out 2 doing as well as it has, grossing $295 million globally in its first weekend, it's currently the year's highest box office debut.