'Finding Dory' Director Andrew Stanton Explains What's Stopping a Pixar Cinematic Universe

'Finding Dory' Director Andrew Stanton Explains What's Stopping a Pixar Cinematic Universe

Nov 16, 2016

This part of the post is normally where we'd try to introduce you to the movie we're talking about, but Finding Dory doesn't need an intro. It's a sequel to one of the most beloved films of all time. It's a pop culture monster. You already know all about it, even if you haven't seen it. But you probably have seen it, because it's currently the highest grossing movie of the year at the United States box office. 

On the statistical off chance that you did miss Finding Dory in theaters, however, it is out this week on Blu-ray, DVD and DigitalHD, so it's very, very easy to catch up. This home video release gave us a chance to chat with Finding Dory (and Nemo) director Andrew Stanton. We already shared a bit from the interview about why Stanton is taking a break from animation, but that's not all we talked about. We also chatted about his real motivation for making a sequel over a decade after the original, as well as hypothetical plans for a Pixar Cinematic Universe.


Movies.com: When I told my five-year-old I was talking to the director of Finding Dory, he wanted to know why you made this film. 

Andrew Stanton: I wasn't looking at it like I need to make a sequel to Nemo, or that I even had a particular story to tell. I was looking at it like a parental thing. I created these characters from the first movie, they end up becoming your kids, you care about them, you value them, you feel like you know them really, really well. I had not watched Nemo for many, many years, until they wanted me to watch it in 2011 to approve the 3D version. And I realized Dory had a fear of abandonment on the inside and wasn't at peace with who she was. Just like you would care about your kids and want them to be content and at peace, I felt obliged to finish her story.

So it wasn't as if I thought, 'Oh, here's another movie!' it was more, 'I need this character to be wrapped up.'

Movies.com: That's a good motivation.

Stanton: And it's a pure one. I can't stop other people from thinking whatever they want to think, but I'm like 'Who waits 13 years to make a sequel?' That's a weird conspiracy theory. It was simply because I kind of got woken up by seeing it and realizing, 'Oh my gosh, I didn't finish her.'

Movies.com: Pixar is known, and commended, for making big changes to films they've been working on for years when something doesn't work. I know the flashbacks were a late addition to Finding Dory, but were there earlier pivots as well?

Stanton: That was the biggest pivot and the most late in the game. The only other one – and it didn't come all at once but it's cleaner to pitch it this way – was the first draft had the parents also having short term memory loss, which is based on a line from the first movie about it running in the family. So I kind of took that as the rule, and then it quickly became annoying, difficult and frustrating. There wasn't anything fun about making it or watching it. Then once we un-tethered ourselves from that obligation, it opened things up and untethered us from the film and brought us all these other questions and led us to all these answers. That was the biggest pivot.

Movies.com: Has there ever been any serious, concerted talk of creating a Pixar Cinemative Universe with interwoven narratives?

Stanton: Not yet. I'm sure if the idea was good enough...look, we're game for anything. It's not like we want to repeat ourselves. People have asked if we'd want to do something episodic or something more mature, but it would be a horrible reason to do it if that's the motive. Hopefully you always have a great character story idea and then the format of how you would do it follows. That would be the desire.

You're just making a product if you're doing it for any reason other than character and story. And we have yet to have an idea or character story that demands we do a crossover. But I'm telling you, the second something seems to support that, we would do it.


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