Pandemic or no pandemic, Disney is going to get their productions through to their audiences. The question at that point becomes “Will it simultaneously release in less-full cinemas and Disney+, or will it just premiere straight to streaming?” This has been the thing for their recent animated films (solo Disney or Disney-Pixar), with “Raya and the Last Dragon” managing to snag theaters with Disney+ this past march while Pixar’s “Soul” last year was Disney+ only. With the Disney Investor Day reveals of new upcoming animated movies, it looks like the former approach will become more prevalent, as Pixar’s “Luca” this June and their upcoming for next year, entitled “Turning Red.”
And as Polygon tells us, that 2022 Disney-Pixar film just released its first trailer. If reviews of the recently-released “Luca” tend to paint it as a “safe” Pixar story choice (mer-people disguising as humans and living among them in 1950s-60s Italy notwithstanding), then “Turning Red” looks to be a return to bombastic ideas. It also draws on three thematic factors: more-recent nostalgia, creator provincialism and cultural sensibilities. But that is to be expected from director Domee Shi, veteran Pixar creative since 2015’s “Inside Out,” and who also created the Pixar short “Bao” which screen ahead of “Incredibles 2” in 2018.
The trailer takes viewers to a school in Canada (note the flags), where a math class is in session and a bespectacled schoolgirl with Oriental facial features is solving quadratic formula equations. When her seatmate alerts her that her mother is outside in the schoolyard, viewable through the classroom window, the girl begins to panic and hyperventilate. Her anxiety is intensified by her mother’s attitude, seeming to want to see her in class and making a scene with school staff. Ultimately the girl’s embarrassment reaches critical mass and…she goes poof.
What follows next is the girl, Mei Lee (Rosalie Chiang), turning into a giant red panda, fleeing from school and roof-hopping across town with her mother Ming (Sandra Oh) in pursuit, as “Larger than Life” from the Backstreet Boys blasts away in the background. Upon reaching home Mei tries to calm herself down, which does return her to human form (only to go panda again in her excitement). All in all, Domee Shi looks to re-explore her Chinese-Canadian immigrant experience as seen in “Bao” in a bigger, feature-length adventure. Already the trailer has been getting positive reactions, as with the reveal that the story takes place in the early 2000s.
“Turning Red” is scheduled to premiere in cinemas by March 11 of 2022, when optimally the circumstances will allow for more people in theaters. This is the first Disney-Pixar release of that year, to be followed by “Toy Story” spinoff “Lightyear,” an origin story for the character depicted by the action figure, starring Chris Evans.
Images: Vulture, Disney Wiki – Fandom