Pixar Developing Straight-to-DVD Cars Spin-off?

Movieline is reporting that Pixar, the studio that once balked when they learned Disney was preparing a straight-to-DVD sequel to Toy Story 2, is now developing Planes, a direct-to-video spin-off/sequel to the studio’s Cars franchise.

As some might remember, Pixar has flirted with straight-to-video projects in the past. The studio initially planned for Toy Story 2 to be a 60-minute direct-to-video sequel. Early work on the film was deemed good enough by the Disney brass that plans were made to develop the film as a theatrical release instead. Likewise, Toy Story 3 was initially developed by Disney as a hastily-produced straight-to-DVD sequel before Pixar stepped in and took over control on the project.

For the last 15 years, Pixar has established itself as the go-to source of quality feature-length animated movies. As the studio grows, though, it’s only safe to assume that it would want to branch out and try new things.

Earlier this week concept art was released for Pixar’s upcoming television series produced in conjunction with the Discovery Channel. Reign of the Dinosaurs will be the studio’s latest attempt at a weekly animated production after its earlier flirtations with the format, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command and Car Toons.

Planes, it seems, will be the next stage of the studio’s evolution.

The Buzz: I am at the point where I feel I can unconditionally trust Pixar with whatever they want to do. Chances are, I will enjoy it. That said, I’m a little worried about the potential dilution of their brand name. The emphasis on sequels instead of original stories — especially sequels to a project like Cars, easily my second-least favorite of Pixar’s movies — makes me nervous.

I’m willing to give Planes a shot but something tells me this might be the start of a potentially troublesome era for Pixar. From here, how long until we are seeing Toy Story 1 & 1/2 told from Sid’s perspective or A Bug’s Life 5?

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