Yesterday, a new trailer for Disney's animated Cars spin-off Planes arrived, and it looked like a weak imitation of Pixar.
Now the straight-to-DVD foundation of this film has been solidified as the House of Mouse has just sent over a press release saying that comedian and part-time actor Dane Cook (Dan in Real Life, Mr. Brooks) is providing the voice for Dusty, a small town crop dusting plane who longs to enter the most epic around-the-world air race despite his fear of heights. Originally Jon Cryer was supposed to take the role, but fell away from the project, and we weren't sure whose voice was in the trailer. ...
Actually, it's not "Pixar lite." It's Disney Blue, Disney Red, or Disney Yellow.
Disney Blue would be the Pixar Emeryville studio.
Disney Red would be the Riverside Drive facility in Burbank a.k.a. Walt Disney Animation Studios (Why plural? There's only one).
And Disney Yellow would be DisneyToon Studios on Sonora Avenue in Glendale, the interior of which is decked out to mimic its Pixar sibling. (This Diz Col division is plural, I guess, because of the overseas contractors.)
Blue and Red make movies for the big screen; Yellow handles the direct-to-video operation. But when Mouse Central sniffs more dollars in a theatrical release, well then hey! DisneyToon gets itself a theatrical movie to chew on. (There is a long, honored practice in this regard.)
Planes has been in the pipeline for a while now. I was looking at design work years ago when I trudged through the studio. Elevating a direct-to-video title to the AMC circuit and the big screen isn't new for Disney. Jungle Book 2 went the multiplex route, a decade ago, as did Return to Neverland before it.
Most of Planes was animated overseas, but a small crew of animators were in Glendale, executing many of the money shots. Disney is being pretty smart with its Toon franchises: As Tinkerbelle has catered to little girls, so will Planes go after the young male demographic. (Think merchandise, merchandise, and MORE merchadndise ... in the form of small metal planes.)
The name of the game is moolah.