While Pixar Animation Studios has a new film hitting theaters next weekend with the sequel Finding Dory, the studio’s next effort also happens to be a sequel. Indeed, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that next up on Pixar’s docket is Cars 3, which opens in theaters next May. We know precious little about the follow-up, which will be helmed by first-timer Brian Fee whose first Pixar credit was as a storyboard artist on the first Cars in 2006. But with Finding Dory opening next week, Pixar Chief Creative Officer/the world’s biggest Cars fan John Lasseter has provided the tiniest of teases of what we can expect from the follow-up.
In speaking with EW, Lasseter revealed that the shadow of Doc Hudson will loom large in the next Cars movie:
“Lightning McQueen, he’s awesome. We’ve got some great new characters, some great racing in it. It’s a very emotional story. It’s a little bit more akin to Cars 1, where you get into a deep emotion with him. It’s really a special story. It’s very emotional and his relationship with Doc Hudson, and his memory of Doc Hudson.”
Cars 2 is, frankly, the worst film to come out of Pixar thus far, so for Lasseter to note that the tone will be more in line with the first movie feels like a bit of reassurance. While I wasn’t too fond of Cars when it first came out, I’ve grown much fonder of the pic over the years. Its leisurely pace and Americana-infused landscape is kind of soothing, and the emotion at the heart of the picture is genuine even if the characters aren’t the most memorable in Pixar’s library, and the world of Cars remains slightly terrifying—what the hell happened to all the people?!
The second Cars movie, which Lasseter stepped in to direct in the midst of a creative turnaround, still feels like Pixar’s most pedestrian film, packed with juvenile humor and gags and lacking the emotion that drives the studio’s best entires. While a critical bust, Cars 2 grossed $559.9 million worldwide and the franchise continues to be a major merchandise coup for Disney, so the audience is there for Cars 3. Here’s hoping the film itself is a pleasant surprise.
Cars 3 is one of two Pixar movies we’ll get in 2017, followed by Toy Story 3 director Lee Unrich’s Dia de los muertos-inspired Coco in November. Then Lasseter returns to the director’s chair for Toy Story 4 on June 15, 2018, followed by Brad Bird’s highly anticipated The Incredibles 2 on June 21, 2019.