Few things in Hollywood have elicited a bigger consensual groan than the string of remakes and sequels currently taking up our screens: It seems like audiences are getting tired of the same stories coming back in various forms. Of course, recent releases like Finding Dory, the sequel to Finding Nemo that smashed the box office this weekend, prove that sequels aren't all doomed to serving mediocre reheated ingredients — they can be great, too!
But Pixar has seemingly made a point of distancing themselves from the sequel trend, declaring that all of the studio's unannounced projects would be original stories. This is in stark contrast to the upcoming Pixar movies that have been scheduled so far, which include Cars 3, Toy Story 4, The Incredibles 2... and Coco. So if the spotlight is on original content, what is Coco all about?
Coco Is Inspired By Día De Muertos
The main inspiration for Coco is Día de Muertos (or Dia De Los Muertos, as North Americans call it), a traditional Mexican holiday that takes place every year at the end of October to honor the dead. You're probably familiar with festival goers painting their faces like skeletons, but that doesn't make Día de Muertos gloomy in the slightest — it's a colorful celebration that is central to Mexican culture, and has been acknowledged in many other countries.
Lee Unkrich, the director of Coco, spoke at Disney's D23 Expo 2015 about how he quickly got absorbed by the many themes intertwined in Día de Muertos:
"I'd seen it portrayed in folk art. It was something about the juxtaposition of skeletons with bright, festive colors that captured my imagination. It has led me down a winding path of discovery. And the more I learn about Dia De Los Muertos, the more it affects me deeply."
The Main Character Of Coco Is Named Miguel
The team behind Coco also revealed their main character at the Disney Expo — surprise, his name isn't Coco. Our hero will be a 12-year-old boy named Miguel: Miguel is 12 years old and his adventure will take him well beyond the realm of the living.
In Disney Pixar's official terms for Coco, in the movie, "the discovery of a generations-old mystery leads to a most extraordinary and surprising family reunion." "Coco" can actually mean "bogeyman" in Spanish, which is used to describe imaginary spirits, most of them evil. That might give us a hint to the spirits that Miguel will encounter!
Coco Will Be Directed By Lee Unkrich
Coco will be Lee Unkrich's second feature film as director after Toy Story 3, but he's also gained plenty of Pixar experience as co-director on Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc. and Toy Story 2. The script was penned by Adrian Molina, who's worked in the animation department on Monsters University and Ratatouille.
Coco Hired Mexican-American Cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz As A Consultant
Coco had attracted controversy in 2013 when Disney tried to file a trademark request for "Día de los Muertos," a move that drew plenty of criticism as the significance of the phrase goes way beyond the movie itself. Among the critics was Lalo Alcaraz, a Mexican-American writer and cartoonist. Two years later, the Coco team included Alcaraz as a consultant, showing more attentiveness from the studio's side to portray the Mexican tradition accurately.
Coco Will Be Released The Same Years As Cars 3
Cars 3 is coming June 16, 2017, while Coco is scheduled for release on November 22, 2017 — shortly after the actual festivities in Mexico. It'll be the second time Pixar releases two movies the same year, after Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur in 2015.
And Finally, Coco Has Started Production!
Saving the best for last: Unkrich recently announced that the team had started animation on Coco, so hopefully we'll get to see some visuals soon!