Has Pixar Lost The Magic Touch?

Comparing Pixar’s Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and Global Box Office. 


Recently a lot of people have been saying Pixar’s output has been going downhill.

It really started when Cars 2 came out– the badly received sequel to the badly received original. Still the franchise has supposedly made billions for Disney & Pixar so I guess you can’t really blame them for it…

But 14th number 1 films in a row at the box office – that is an incredible run – one that probably  can’t be matched by any other studio (though heir apparent Marvel Studios probably has a good shot).

And really has the quality gone down or are we just more sceptical because they are producing more sequels? It’s tough to maintain quality especially when there are so many factors in play.

It got me thinking, so I’ve put together this little comparison of their movies so far comparing their Metacritic, Rotten Tomatoes and Global Box Office ($m):


From the Rotten Tomatoes Top Reviewer scores you can see the films were all consistently highly rated apart from the blip that was Cars.

However since Cars 2, which crashed into the 30s, the films have been noticeably rated lower than before. Maybe its just the perception of Cars ruining Pixar rather than it actually doing so?


The Metacritic scores below follow a similar pattern but the difference between the higher and lower scores is less pronounced. The highs aren’t as high but the lows aren’t as low either.

The pattern is still same though and the post Cars 2 films have all have a negative knock down.


Now looking at the global box office (note Monsters Uni is still on release and will finish off much, much higher) you can see that really the scores haven’t affected the money these films have made. With the exception of Toy Story 3 and Finding Nemo, most of the films have all fallen within the $400m – $600m range.

So although its easy to say Pixar have lost their spark really it hasn’t put people off going to their movies.

Of course Pixar still have to be mindful of how the public are perceiving their films. One reason they are so successful is simply because the studio has built up such a huge level of trust with parents that every film they release is a must see. But if the quality drops (or if there is a perception of dropping) then Pixar could lose the brand power it has worked so hard to buildup.

Pixar are well aware of what happening.

This week Pixar announced they will try to cut back on sequels and release at least one original film each year. Smartly they are tying to combat scepticism before it gets a chance to cause real damage to their brand. Hopefully it will pay off and we’ll see a mix of great originals and sequels that the audiences actually want to see.

So have they lost the magic touch? No, but like all smart companies they are taking positive steps to make sure they don’t in the future.

And if I were a betting man I would guess Pixar will do just fine.

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5 responses to “Has Pixar Lost The Magic Touch?

  1. I finally got around to watching Monsters University today. It’s a great film. Maybe not on a Finding Nemo or Toy Story tier, but I do think it’s a great prequel. People have been against the idea of this prequel since the day it was announced so I am not really surprised over the review scores.

    I do think that people are really just looking for an excuse to hate on Pixar. Cars 2 really did cause some brand damage. If Bug’s Life were released now instead of Uni, it would have just been another chapter of the so called “downfall” of Pixar. They’ll do fine. I’ve only heard bad things about this film on the Internet and in a few critic reviews. Every person I’ve talked to about Brave and Uni have loved their latest offerings (though not so much Cars 2).

  2. Hi Joseph thanks for commenting.

    I really liked Monsters Uni too. I think as long as they keep the quality up people will accept sequels and I’m pretty sure Finding Dory will be a billion dollar movie in 2015. And let’s face it people love sequels – you just need to look at the top films of any year to see that.

    Pixar seems to have noticed the backlash to Cars 2 (even though it still made quite a lot of money). At their D23 presentation I think every film announced was an original idea. It’s a bit of a catch 22– Cars made so much money on merchandise and that helps Pixar to bankroll more original ideas. But then that of course damages the brand as you point out! I think having Planes come out from the direct to video Disney Toons unit was a good mope cos it helps insulate Pixar from any negative sentiments but allows them to still use those characters and ideas.

    That’s a very good point about a Bugs Life. It’s unreasonable to expect any creator to produce something outstanding every single time and that’s why I wrote the piece in the first place. It was funny that merely being just good or great wasn’t enough. I have a feeling this will also happen to a lesser extent to Marvel Studios – they have had a phenomenal run so far and generally have had positive reviews – you just know there are some people out there sharpening the knives in the hope that one of their films fail.

      • well basically lasseters whole point in helping start pixar was to get disney to see the potential of computer animation…..but now that disneys own computer animated movies are doing better than pixars even outgrossing toy story 3 and lassters in charge of disney animation now anyway theres just no reason to keep pixar around anymore

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