So it looks as if Disney may seal the deal to buy Pixar as early as Tuesday–and it’s at least possible that John Lasseter will end up running Disney animation. In some ways, this seems overdue–wouldn’t Pixar have been a steal in about 1994, right before Toy Story debuted? But it also feels odd to consider the notion that the greatest animation studio of its all may invigorate itself by…buying out another studio. (Not to mention the fascinating side story of Steve Jobs potentially helping to run Disney. If you’d told me in 1978, when I first heard of the man, that he might someday be a logical candidate to be chairman of the company that Walt Disney founded, I would have been utterly bewildered.)
Anyhow, it’s going to be fascinating to watch this play out, and I’m already full of questions. Such as:
Does John Lasseter want to run Disney animation? What would such a perch give him that he doesn’t have at Pixar, except more problems? Would he take leave at the first opportunity? For that matter, do he, and the other members of the Pixar brain trust, see the merger as a great idea, or a tragic end to a wonderful independent animation studio? (Would Steve Jobs agree to the acquisition if Lasseter hated the notion?)
Is the Pixar studio going to become the Disney animation studio? That is, is the building in Emeryville going to be become the nerve center of Disney animation production? Or just an outpost?
What does this mean for the leading lights of current Disney animation, not to mention all the foot soldiers working on Disney’s own CGI features? Is Glen Keane going to work for John Lasseter? Will there be massive layoffs? Would someone like Mark Dindal, who, whatever his talents, seems unPixarian flourish under a Lasseter regime?
Could you keep the Pixar goodness going indefinitely? Pixar has been around for about twenty years now, with some of the same people and much the same culture. How long would the qualities that make it Pixar take to evaporate within Disney? Five years? Fifty? If John Lasseter were to become President of animation, would his successor be another storytelling genius, or a suit?
Will Disney stop releasing pap? Pixar is, above everything else, an extremely tasteful company. Would John Lasseter put a stop to cheapquels? Could he? Would Disney have a Classy Animation Division and a Swill Division? Or might John Lasseter want to produce sequels to Disney films–and actually make good ones?
Might we see the Pixar folks make some hand-drawn features? Sounds like a good idea to me?
Does the Pixar name disappear? It’s not without value. Will future Toy Story-related products refer to Walt Disney’s Buzz Lightyear?
If none of the merging I mull over above happens, then what? Might Pixar just continue as Pixar, producing its own films its own way, while Disney also makes its own CGI films in a parallel fashion?
Okay, that’s enough questions for now. Got any answers, or wild guesses? Or questions of your own?