In a surprising article published this morning on USA Today, Disney and Pixar not only confirmed who the Director for Cars 3 is, but also gave some interesting plot details as well as introductions to two new major characters! Cars 3 Director Brian Fee is a longtime "Pixarian" known for his Story Board artistry from such favorites as Cars, Ratatouille, WALL-E, and most recently Monsters University. Check out our first look at Cars 3 concept art and story details in a full interview with Director Brian Fee after the break!
Championship racer Lightning McQueen, voiced by Owen Wilson, will need help to compete in the increasingly high-tech racing world of the upcoming Cars 3.
That’s where the new trainer comes in — the sleek, yellow Cruz Ramirez is a young Hispanic female race car who instructs Lightning McQueen, as this exclusive concept art depicts during a beach run.
“Cruz Ramirez is trying to figure out how this old dog can learn some new tricks,” says Cars 3 director Brian Fee.
Pixar's anthropomorphic Cars franchise has followed Lightning McQueen as a rookie racing for the Piston Cup in Cars (2006) and around the globe in the World Grand Prix in Cars 2 (2011). But in Cars 3 (in theaters June 16, 2017), McQueen has progressed beyond veteran status.
“Think of where he’d be in his career now in real time,” says Fee. “(McQueen) is not an old man, but he's one of the older cars on the circuit with new rookies coming in. People start to wonder and ask when he might retire.”
These questions grow louder after a race trouncing by upstart Jackson Storm.
“Jackson Storm is the face of these rookies who have come onto the scene,” says Fee. “And McQueen is in a position where his entire racing generation is being pushed out. But it’s too early to be shown the door right now.”
Ramirez aims to help him adapt and close the technical gap. The duo prepare in the racing off-season for McQueen’s one chance to show he’s got the goods in the Florida 500 (the equivalent of the Daytona 500).
“Everyone can relate to feeling like someone is at their heels, that they might be a little outdated in something they used to be very good at, feeling an expiration date. And knowing you need someone to help you get a second chance," says Fee.
Cars 3 is deep in production with some story points still being solidified and major casting (such as voices for Ramirez and Storm) not yet announced. But animation already underway in established scenes.
“We’re still creating the blueprints on some rooms of this house, but we’re starting to paint in other rooms,” the director says.
Fee is well entrenched in the Cars world for his directorial debut, after serving as storyboard animator in Cars and Cars 2, directed by John Lasseter.
“Brian was part of the original story team on Cars, so he really knows the DNA,” says Lasseter, now chief creative officer for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios and executive producer for Cars 3.
Cars 3 will feature McQueen with his signature Cars look and bring back familiar characters from the original's Radiator Springs, including tow-truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), girlfriend Sally Carrera (Bonnie Hunt) and auto-body shop owner Ramone (Cheech Marin).
The story will stay in America, hitting historical race sites throughout the country. “This movie is a love letter to racing and the American way,” says Fee. “We’re inspired by the Americana you see traveling through the South where every small town has a dirt track.”
Cars 3 is scheduled to race into theaters on June 16th, 2017!
It is well documented that many are not anticipating Cars 3 as much as say Toy Story 4 or The Incredibles 2. And I'll be honest with you and say that I am not particularly fond of this sequel's production. With that said, I always loved the original Cars film just as much as any other Pixar film, and while the same ins't necessarily true for Cars 2, I strongly believe that critiques of the second film are far too unjustified. While Cars 2 isn't nearly as good of a film as say Toy Story 3, I still love if for what it is, rather than what some people try and make it out to be.
As far as Cars 3 is concerned, I do like the interesting addition of Cruz Ramirez- she seems like a fresh juxtaposition to that of Lightining McQueen. Plus, she'll surely add some much needed diversity into the stagnant franchise. However, I'm not completely sold on the whole Florida 500 idea and the journeying through historic American racing locations. I feel it is too repetitive of what Cars 2 achieved with the World Grand Prix and the primary races in several cities around the globe. With that being said, I have an open mind to the idea and am keenly interested in how newcomers Cruz Ramirez and Jackson Storm play against Lighting McQueen. And the concept art of Cruz and Lightining racing on the beach is a beautiful-yet-darker aesthetic that I hope is explored visually in the final film!
*Also, the director's neglection of mentioning Mater in this interview gives me hope that he won't play as pivotal a role in Cars 3 as he did in Cars 2.
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