Pixar should feel pretty comfortable doing what they'd like from atop their movie studio throne -- over 15 years they've pocketed 26 Academy Awards and critic raves across the board -- but even they like a challenge. For their next project, the animation masterminds have taken a page from Papa Disney's playbook, tackling their very first fairy tale, "Brave."
Entertainment Weekly has a first look at production art for Pixar's 13th film, which is set in the Scottish Highlands and tells the tale of a princess, Merida, who defies her parents' sacred rituals and sends the kingdom into a shambles.
The details of Merida's adventure are scarce, but we do know that she's a skilled archer and will run into a host of characters. Included are a Wise Woman, who will grant her a important wish, and a couple of funny Lords who live in the kingdom. When it was first announced a few years ago the film was titled "The Bear and the Bow," so perhaps we'll see a few Scottish Grizzlies in there too (do they have those in Scotland?). The cast includes Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane and Kelly McDonald, who voices Merida.
EW's images suggest a varying tone then the brightly colored films of Pixar's past -- swamps drowning in mist, dim sunsets and vibrant, yet earthy tones -- reminiscent of Dreamworks' "How to Train Your Dragon," but still in tune with the studio's artistic craft. The paintings are all concepts of what the finished project may look like, but it's safe to say the Pixar isn't worried about venturing out of their mold a bit.
"Brave" has been in gestation for quite awhile, with the recent announcement that director Brenda Chapman ("The Prince of Egypt") had been replaced by Pixar-insider Mark Andrew (the short "One Man Band"), but both filmmakers will see their names on the final product. The switcheroo is notable if only that Chapman was set to be the first female director at the studio, while now only seeing co-director credit. At least the film still has a female lead!
"Brave" is set to debut on June 22, 2012 and we might be seeing our first look at actual footage sometime around the release of "Cars 2," which hits theaters June 26, 2011.
See the rest the pictures over at EW.