Considered by many to be the greatest animation studio to ever exist, Pixar has a monopoly in the way of successes. Of their twenty films, only one—The Good Dinosaur—has flopped, and only one has received a “rotten” score on Rottentomatoes. The studio has also won a staggering fifteen Academy Awards, nine Golden Globes, and eleven Grammys. Indeed, Pixar’s reputation exceeds itself; having been founded by Edwin Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith and eventually being bought by the House of Mouse itself: Disney.
The story of Pixar’s acquisition by Disney is in of itself a story; a very difficult one that resulted in Disney threatening to make sequels to Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo. Of those three, the third Toy Story was the closest to being made while the Finding Nemo sequel has absolutely nothing on it. Perhaps we’ll cover that another time. For now, we’re here to talk about one of the very few Pixar films to have never been made: Newt.
Announced in April of 2008 and slated for release in 2011, Newt (which was stylized as “newt”) was to center on the last remaining male and female blue-footed newts, Newt and Brooke. However, the two loathe each other, but are “forced together by science” to save their species and thus go on an adventure.
The film was to be the feature film debut of Gary Rydstrom, who prior to this had directed the Pixar short “Lifted” and had won seven Oscars for his sound work. Conceptually, the film was a bit different from many of Pixar's other movies; a romantic adventure film centering on the possible extinction of two animals.
In September of 2008, Newt was delayed until 2012, taking over the old release date held by Cars 2. From there, time ticked away. No news on any progress on the film was made and nary a peep on another potential delay was heard. In 2010 however, that changed. The film was instead removed entire from Disney's A to Z Encyclopedia by the chief archivist, Dave Smith. Immediately, many suspected that the film has been canceled. Backing this theory up was an email that was received from Smith's email address, albeit unsigned, stated that, “The film has been cancelled”. This matched up with what many industry insiders had been claiming, including someone at Pixar who anonymously stated:
"We have taken newt off of our development schedule to allow our creative teams to focus on these upcoming projects."
However, Pixar's animation head, John Lasseter wouldn't comment until the following year when Cars 2 was released. Lasseter, who helmed the sequel, stated that the reason for the films cancellation was due to the animated film, Rio. The two films shared similar premises and rather than release something similar and be seen as a copycat, they opted to shelve the project. This news was met negatively, primarily due to the mixed reception Rio received.
In place of Newt's 2012 release date, Pixar would release Brave, which contained a small reference to Newt—as did 2010’s Toy Story 3. As for Brave, it went on to garner generally positive reception, many calling it a return to form for Pixar after the poor reviews Cars 2 earned.
Over the years, a lot of concept art for Newt has emerged. What’s presented below is but a small amount of what I could find, but I give most of the credit to the Disney and Pixar fandom sites.
Supposedly, the film's soundtrack was also leaked onto the internet; a piece of it anyways.
Although Newt was canceled, not all of it was completely disregarded. In March of 2014, Ed Catmull stated that prior to its cancelation, the project was handed to Pete Docter, director of Monsters Inc. and Up. Rydstrom, for his part, had moved onto other projects.
Docter agreed to take the project over, but also said he had a better idea. After presenting the idea, Catmull and Lasseter agreed that it was better and they went through with it over Newt. Meanwhile, that idea would become the basis for Inside Out.