I feel like the canary in the coal mine. I’ve been very uneasy about the spate of upcoming Pixar sequels – Toy Story 3 just came out, which I believe is the least of the franchise, Cars 2 is coming, Monsters, Inc 2 is on its way – and the latest bit of news about the company makes me even uneasier. According to Movieline Pixar is moving into direct to DVD business with a Cars spin-off to be called Planes.

Remember when Pixar’s John Lasseter was against this stuff? When he rescued Toy Story 2 from the ignominy of a cheapie cash-in and made one of the best animated films ever out of it? Movieline posits that a DTV Planes allows Pixar to make a buck on the Cars world’s bizarre popularity with the 2 year old set while not ‘diluting’ the cinematic franchise. I guess that makes sense, although I don’t know how much there is to dilute.

The optimist would look at this and say there’s no reason that Pixar’s usual commitment to great storytelling couldn’t shine in a DTV release. The pragmatist would understand that this is how business is done – you want more Ups, you have to deal with a couple of Planes. The cynic looks at the spate of sequels and the new DTV business and thinks that maybe we’ve seen the peak of Pixar. (EDIT TO INCLUDE: I didn’t even realize that Pixar was going back and 3Ding their old films, which was reported on Slashfilm this week. That feels sort of cynical) To quote Hunter S. Thompson: “With the right kind of eyes, you can almost see the high-water mark – the place where the wave broke and rolled back.”