Disney Sequel Factory to Close

With the news of Disney’s impending purchase of Pixar, The Los Angeles Times reports today that Disney will scrub the toon unit it has been building for the express purpose of creating sequels to Pixar hits such as Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. The good news for fans is that Pixar will be handling those franchise follow-ups instead.

‘We feel very strongly that if the sequels are going to be made, we want the people who were involved in the original films involved in the sequels,’ Pixar CEO Steve Jobs said during a conference call on Tuesday.

Last year, Disney took over a warehouse in Glendale, Calif. and assembled a team of approximately 150 artists to start work on Toy Story 3. Known officially as Circle 7 but nicknamed Pixaren’t, the crew has spent three months on pre-production for the return of Woody, Buzz and the gang. Now that work is being yanked out of their hands and turned over the Pixar team, which will continue to operate in the company’s facilities in Emeryville, Calif.

This follows yesterday’s news that as the result of the Pixar purchase, Pixar’s Ed Catmull and John Lasseter are now at the helm of Disney’s Feature Animation division. According to internal Disney sources, David Stainton is stepping down from his position, but will remain at the Mouse House. Among the features in the Disney toon pipeline are Chris Sanders’ American Dog (which was heavily promoted at last year’s SIGGRAPH), slated for a 2007 release and Glen Keane’s Rapunzel for 2008.