What is Pixar’s Brave?

There’s an interesting word in a recent Coming Soon interview with Pixar’s Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera. One word. One surprising and so far unexplained word.

As well as discussion of Up and a potential sequel to Monsters Inc. the conversation turned to general work practice at the Pixar studio. While working on Up, did Docter have much involvement with the other in-development pictures? Here’s his answer:

Once in a while, we’re at these meetings where we all look at Toy Story 3 or Brave or whatever and we all give comments and notes, but that’s just like a day here or there.

What is this Brave?

Well, to be honest nobody really has much of an idea. Yet. But there is some speculation doing the rounds, and I have a hunch of my own.

One of the films we know Pixar to be developing at the moment is The Bear and the Bow. Could Brave be a new title for this film? It certainly seems to be a story about bravery… but I’m not buying into that yet. The Bear and the Bow is a great title and really captures the folkloric vibe that suits the story of that movie.

My own suspicion (though it is only a vague one and I definitely wouldn’t stack any chips on it yet) is that Brave is a new adaptation of Thomas M. Disch’s The Brave Little Toaster.

Already adapted into an animated film – and two sequels – the original novel was billed by the author as “a bedtime story for small appliances”. He set the novel up for an adaptation at Disney, though that never quite happened. Later, the deal shifted and Hyperion produced the film, though it was distributed by Disney in 1987.

That film had numerous Pixar links, though a few are admittedly tenuous. It was co-written by Joe Ranft, later a key story man for Pixar. It had a David Newman soundtrack – part of the family of composers that includes Pixar collaborators Randy and Thomas. Thirdly, John Lasseter himself wanted to adapt the film during his tenure at Disney. This would have been done using the same 3D-2D hybrid of CG backgrounds and hand-drawn characters of Lasseter’s infamous Where the Wild Things Are test.

But would Pixar really now mount another film about inanimate objects coming to life, after the Toy Stories and Cars? A 2006 CNN interview with John Lasseter suggests so. Here’s the man himself, recounting his interest in adapting the story at Disney:

A friend of mine had told me about a 40-page novella called The Brave Little Toaster, by Thomas Disch. I’ve always loved animating inanimate objects, and this story had a lot of that. Tom Willhite liked the idea, too, and got us the rights to the story so we could pitch it to the animation studio along with our test clip.

When it came time to show the idea, I remember the head of the studio had only one question: “How much is this going to cost?” We said about the same as a regular animated feature. He replied, “I’m only interested in computer animation if it saves money or saves time.” We found out later that others had poked holes in my idea before I had even pitched it.

This ultimately led to Lasseter’s employment being terminated at Disney, but also his forging the connections that made Pixar happen.

I’m thinking there’s a fair chance that The Brave Little Toaster might be coming back, even that there’s an outside chance of Lasseter himself directing. Or maybe he can’t stand the thought of that darn Toaster and the trouble it caused him. It might be a few months, or even years, until we find out. The Brave new frontier of appliance merchandising and Pixar-branded toasters may just be awaiting us.

via Upcoming Pixar.

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