The Pixar Story: Constructed Narratives of the Animation Studio

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The constructed narrative of Pixar Animation Studios is predicated on the studio’s groundbreaking research and the development of computer-generated animation technology. Since the release of Toy Story (Lasseter, 1995), the world’s first fully CG animated feature film, the studio has sustained prominent commercial success and critical acclaim. In 2006, the Walt Disney Company purchased Pixar for $7.4 billion, a deal that has proven invaluable to the success of Disney’s animated feature films. Prior to the acquisition market research suggested that mothers with children under the age of twelve generally rated Pixar’s brand higher than Disney’s (Price 252). The recent success of Tangled (Greno and Howard, 2010), Wreck-It Ralph (Moore, 2012) and Frozen (Buck and Lee, 2013) demonstrates a renewed trust in the Disney brand. In a recent Variety article Disney’s CEO Robert Iger partly attributed this success to the purchasing of Pixar (Graser 2014). However, since entering this Post-Disney period the common narrative of Pixar as infallible has been disputed. Following the phenomenal success of Toy Story 3 (Unkrich, 2010), the studio has been unable to replicate the flawless “Pixar formula”. Furthermore, the delayed release of Inside Out (Docter, 2015) and The Good Dinosaur (Sohn, 2015), and the announcement of further sequels to the Cars franchise, the Toy Story series, The Incredibles (Bird, 2004) and Finding Nemo (Stanton, 2003) suggests that the studio’s acquisition by Disney has initially had a negative impact on Pixar.

This paper aims to look beyond the frame of Pixar Animation Studios, and the effect of the Disney-Pixar merge on the narrative and brand identity of Pixar from an industrial context.


Graser, Marc. ‘Disney’s Frozen Plans: Theme Parks, Broadway, Videogames and Beyond’. Variety. 5 Feb 2014.

Price, David A. The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company. Vintage Books, 2009.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventSociety for Animation Studies 2015: Beyond the Frame - Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Jul 201516 Jul 2015


ConferenceSociety for Animation Studies 2015: Beyond the Frame
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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