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Top 10 Things Disney Does That Pixar Doesn't

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden

That’s not in Pixar’s wheelhouse. For this list, we’ll be looking at the aspects of Disney animated films that have not appeared often or prominently in Pixar films… so far, at least. Also, we’ll be speaking generally here, so not everything is going to apply 100% of the time. Join WatchMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Things Disney Does That Pixar Would Never Do.

Check out the voting page for this list and add your picks: https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Things+Disney+Does+That+Pixar+Would+NEVER+Do. Special thanks to our user liam_schell for suggesting this idea!

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Script written by Garrett Alden

Top 10 Things Disney Does That Pixar Would Never Do


That’s not in Pixar’s wheelhouse. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Things Disney Does That Pixar Would NEVER Do.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the aspects of Disney animated films that have not appeared often or prominently in Pixar films… so far, at least. Also, we’ll be speaking generally here, so not everything is going to apply 100% of the time.

#10: Tie Up Their Conflicts with a Bow

Disney is a magical company that has brought wonder to millions, as well as left audiences wondering how some of their protagonists could have possibly gotten out of things without plot convenience or magic. Pixar, on the other hand, generally sees its heroes forced to confront their problems head-on or struggle through them without taking an easy way out. It’s this struggle that generates a lot of empathy towards the characters and makes us feel that much more for them. That isn’t to say that Pixar hasn’t had some tidy resolutions, but the way in which they resolve has better setup, at least.

#9: Set Most of Their Movies in an Old-Fashioned Fantasy / Fairy Tale World

Pixar has had a few of their movies take place in fantastical or historical worlds, but nowhere to the degree that Disney has. Disney has built its brand on fantasy and magic, as we’ve said, and that means that most of their animated films and other media are set in older time periods and will include something magical or supernatural. Meanwhile, Pixar has built its own image on more contemporary settings with an unusual twist; turning our world into something magical, rather than taking us to a different place or time to achieve the effect.

#8: TV Show Adaptations

Yes, okay, Pixar has had TV adaptations of a few of their most popular film franchises. Remember “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command?” But Disney has a leg or hundred up on them when it comes to bringing their big screen successes to the small screen. The company began bringing its biggest hits from the Disney Renaissance of the 1990s to television, making series for “The Little Mermaid,” and “Aladdin,” among others. The trend has continued to this day, with series like “Tangled,” though with much improved animation. Pixar just hasn’t made the same kind of effort on television that its parent company has.

#7: Broadway Adaptations

Disney doesn’t only have a reputation for packing movie theaters, but also adapting several of their biggest films into hit Broadway musicals. However, although a “Toy Story” musical used to be performed on Disney Cruise Line, Pixar has not found Disney’s level of success onstage, despite having plenty of films with memorable soundtracks. Despite having great music, none of Pixar’s films are musicals, while Disney has musicals galore; meaning that adapting Pixar’s content for stage necessitates writing original songs rather than translating existing ones to a new medium.

#6: Live-Action Versions

Disney has made plenty of smash successes over the years, and they’ve recently begun to capitalize on that by remaking some of their older films using a live-action medium instead of animation. The results have been somewhat mixed critically, but were hugely successful financially. Pixar has not been as eager to reap the rewards of nostalgia through remakes. Whether this is because they’re a younger company, or because they have an ounce of shame, we can’t say. They certainly seem like they would be simpler to realize, given their contemporary settings.

#5: Direct-to-Video Sequels

Releasing a sequel directly to video instead of giving it a theatrical release has proved very profitable for Disney, particularly since many of said successor films are made far more cheaply than their predecessors. While Pixar has several sequels under its belt, almost all of them have been released theatrically. Although we’ve already seen that home media and television are not really Pixar’s forte, they’re also not quite as eager to milk their properties for every dime like Disney seems to be… er, besides the “Cars” franchise, maybe.

#4: Purely Evil Villains

In most Disney movies, you can tell who the bad guy is going to be right away, whether it’s because they just look or act evil, seemingly for the sake of it. While they can be a lot of fun to watch, they’re rarely very complex. However, Pixar antagonists are given more depth, both in their characterization and in their motivations. Even if they’re not sympathetic, we get why they do the things they do, because the world isn’t divided into good people and bad people. Speaking of which…

#3: Flawless Heroes

Just as Disney’s villains are vile, their heroes are frequently models of virtue and heroism, with the occasional quirk. That isn’t to say they don’t struggle or have the occasional flaw, but they’re still largely good people (or animals, or whatever). Pixar protagonists are a bit more flawed in that they’re not always motivated by the best intentions, which makes them very relatable. They can be selfish, jealous, or afraid, and it’s often those character traits and experiences that they have to overcome as much as the antagonist.

#2: Musical Numbers

We’ve already touched on this before, but Disney movies are often musicals with catchy songs sung by the characters, letting us in on their motivations or setting the stage for the story to progress. Although Pixar has original songs too, they’re almost always sung by someone who isn’t a character, even if they do help set the tone or inform on who a character is. That’s not to say we wouldn’t like to see some of our favorite Pixar songs turned into musical numbers – can you imagine a full length “Just Keep Swimming?”

#1: Traditional Animation

Although they’ve gravitated towards computer animated films in recent years, for most of its history, Disney has been seen as one of the giants of traditional, hand-drawn animation. Conversely, Pixar has been a company devoted entirely to computer animated films and short films from its inception. While 2D animation has appeared - though very sparingly - in Pixar films, their chosen medium has always been 3 dimensional, like their characters. It might be interesting to see their take on traditional animation - but if they never did it, we would not be surprised.
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