The first time a non-Pixar title was shown before a Pixar feature film in theaters, it was in November 2017 when Olaf’s Frozen Adventure played before Coco. Although the piece was contentious among filmgoers, the pairing made sense: Frozen was Disney’s biggest animated film in years, and the crossover between Frozen and Coco audiences was obvious.
Now, Disney is rolling out another non-Pixar short before of a Pixar movie, but this one is less sensical: The Simpsons in a short called Playdate with Destiny. A tweet from the official Simpsons account confirmed that a short would open before Onward, Pixar’s new movie with Tom Holland and Chris Pratt.
It’s unclear if any of the other Simpsons family members — including Lisa, Bart, Marge, and Homer — will appear in the short or if it’s just Maggie and a mysterious date. While it’s likely that some Onward moviegoers will also be Simpsons fans, it’s a bizarre partnership for a Pixar movie. The Simpsons isn’t exactly Frozen.
As one friend, a Disney aficionado-turned-historian, told me, “It makes absolutely no sense, aside from shoving one Disney-owned thing in front of another.” That’s what it all comes down to at the end of the day: Disney now owns The Simpsons, thanks to a $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox. The Simpsons is a mega-popular IP that Disney wants to control. Incorporating The Simpsons into bigger Disney projects, like a Pixar movie, or making it a staple on the Disney Plus streaming platform (an addition that left many confused) is a near-perfect example of company synergy — a nightmarish example, perhaps.
This won’t be the first time that Disney uses The Simpsons to flex its own dominance. In an upcoming episode of The Simpsons, the family will be thrown into a version of a world that Marvel Cinematic Universe fans will immediately recognize. Parodies based on popular Marvel characters, including Thanos and Iron Man, will take center stage. To hammer the synergy home, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige will voice the episode’s version of Thanos, and Avengers: Endgame directors Anthony and Joe Russo will also lend their voice talents. It’s a beautiful marriage of Fox old and Disney new.
But The Simpsons and Marvel make more sense than The Simpsons and Pixar. Hey, as long as it’s better than Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.