Through a series of articles written up on Entertainment Weekly and Vanity Fair, Pixar shed new light on a new film they’re working on that you heard of briefly at the 2015 D23 Expo. It’s called “Coco” and it’s being directed by Lee Unkrich (director, co-director of the Toy Story films).
As Unkrich shared at the Expo, his new film would delve into the world of the dead, as taken from Mexican folklore. It centers around the main character Miguel, who is a passionate young musician. Sadly, his family isn’t supportive of his music passion because of what happened to them in the past where Miguel’s great-great grandmother was said to have been cursed because of her late husband Ernesto’s decision to abandon the family to pursue a career in music.
Miguel eventually finds out about his musical roots and seeks to find Ernesto’s most prized possession, his guitar, so he can use it in a talent competition. Ernesto passed away and was buried with his guitar, so Miguel on the eve of the famous Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, quickly makes a decision to visit the mausoleum to retrieve it.
Little did he know that his decision would trigger its own magic leading Miguel into the very colorful and lighthearted realm of the Land of the Dead. During his time as a “living ghost,” Miguel meets his dead ancestors who look like the colorful skeletons that are a popular staple for the holiday.
Miguel’s mission quickly changes after meeting with his great, great-grandmother and decides to find Ernesto and get some answers. Together with the help of Hector, a “skeletal trickster,” Miguel must quickly find Ernesto and learn how he can break the curse upon his family “before time runs out.”
The voice cast was also announced, which consists of an all-Latino ensemble. They include Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Renée Victor, and newcomer Anthony Gonzalez who voices Miguel. All of the actors will be tasked with singing as well since Unkrich confirmed there will be some songs.
There’s still a lot of unanswered questions that we have as we’re sure that you have now too, but that doesn’t mean that there’s so much to look forward to on this film. It’s unique in that every element of the story is in someway tied to Mexican culture, and films about culture seems to have attracted a large audience.
Just this past week, Disney Animation’s “Moana” keeps surpassing benchmarks at the box office as it now is on its way at making nearly as much if not more as “Frozen” did back in 2013. But while box office ticket sales are important to measure the success of a film, there’s so much more riding on “Coco” than it was bargaining for.
First, the filmmakers need to make sure their ability to tell a real life story based on real people is accurate and honorable. Back in 2013, the secrecy of the film was almost broken when Disney tried to trademark the phrase Dia de los Muertos. Upon the severe backlash they received, Unkrich with the help of his Mexican story trust team committed that they would make every effort to tell the story as culturally truthful as possible.
Secondly, the film will be the only film from the John Lasseter-lead studio for the next few years with an original story with original characters, with Cars 3 due out in June 2017 and “Toy Story 4” and “The Incredibles 2” in following years. In a time where sequels have been known to be the lesser products of a studio and an easy way for them to make money, “Coco” could disprove that entirely especially for a studio that was known for its original stories when it first started making films back in 1995 with the award-winning “Toy Story”.
If not, that identifying mark on Pixar might find the rest of their films, originals included, dead on arrival for audiences in the future.
“Coco” is slated for release in November 2017.