Refuting months of speculation that Walt Disney Feature Animation would be retooled and rebranded exclusively for 2D, Ed Catmull, president of Pixar and WDFA, revealed plans for merely a partial return to 2D last week at the 2007 Investor Conference. Meanwhile, it was formally announced that TOY STORY 3 is being made at Pixar with Lee Unkrich at the helm (co-director of TOY STORY 2, MONSTERS, INC. and FINDING NEMO) and a script by Michael Arndt, Oscar-nominated for LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. Plans are to release in 2010. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are signed as the voices of Woody and Buzz Lightyear.
Catmull reiterated that Pixar's director-centric vision has been adopted at Disney and that quality and storytelling are the keys to a successful business plan, not animation style. "At Disney, you have these remarkable artists who were there, but, in all candor, were not kneaded together in the right way. At the heart of it there has to be a director and the director has to have a vision." Catmull said Disney will offer a mix of 3D and 2D. A new and more flexible pipeline is being implemented to accommodate both. Plans are in the works to build a new Feature Animation studio in Glendale. The first 2D feature in development is THE FROG PRINCESS by Ron Clements and John Musker (THE LITTLE MERMAID and ALADDIN).
John Lasseter additionally confirmed that Disney story artist Chris Williams has replaced Chris Sanders as the director of AMERICAN DOG, the next 3D feature for Disney for release in 2008. Williams caught the attention of Lasseter with his work on Disney's next 3D short that he's developing, GOLGO'S GUEST, about a strange meeting between a Russian frontier guard and an extraterrestrial. Williams is also developing another short, PREP AND LANDING, about two inept elves preparing a house for Santa's visit, according to THE NEW YORK TIMES.