General view of the Dolby Theatre during the Film Independent's 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival Premiere of Disney Pixar's 'Brave' at Dolby Theatre on June 18, 2012 in Hollywood, California. Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images.
By Scott Bowles, USA TODAY
There's a cost to having Hollywood's hottest hit streak. Someday, it's going to end.
Analysts doubt that day is coming Friday, which will see the release of the animated fairy tale Brave, Pixar's 13th movie - and probably the studio's 13th to finish No. 1 at the box office on its opening weekend. The streak is unprecedented for a modern-era studio.
But the company has appeared mortal lately. Though last year's Cars 2 collected $192 million, it also became the first Pixar movie to earn largely negative reviews from critics and fans. And last year, citing creative differences, Pixar parted ways with original Brave director Brenda Chapman, who now shares director credits with Mark Andrews.
Still, early reviews have been strong, and the film features Pixar's first heroine anchor, voiced by Kelly Macdonald, who plays an upstart princess yearning to be an archer.
Like many of Pixar's hits, Brave is no mean feat for family animation. The film owes much of its roots to classic European fairy tales, which served more as warnings to children than entertainment. And the movie's mother turns into a black bear that looks nothing like Yogi - this is a creature with a behemoth's size and rage.
If he's nervous about No. 13, Andrews maintains a poker face.
"Everybody is waiting for the shoe to drop or for us to fail," he says. "If I thought too much about it, I wouldn't get out of bed."
Still, there's much to encourage him. The studio, which averages about one movie a year, has turned unlikely films into summer hits:
•Ratatouille (2007). Some analysts predicted this story of a rat who loves cooking (and has kitchen access) would be the studio's first stumble. Instead, it did $206 million.
•WALL-E (2008). This story of robot love is nearly wordless in its first half, yet kids and their parents were mesmerized enough to plunk down $223.8 million.
•Up (2009). What do you get when you cast Ed Asner as a grumpy cartoon shut-in mourning his wife's death? In Pixar's case, $293 million.
Pixar is a family-minded studio, Andrews says. "That's why the studio works. They find emotions that resonate with everyone."