It's been nearly a year since the deal that allowed the Walt Disney Company to acquire 21st Century Fox and its many entertainment assets was finalized, and we're still seeing the various big and small changes to spin out of that massive acquisition. While many superhero fans have been focused on the impending introduction of the X-Men and Fantastic Four into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that's far from the only major victory achieved. Disney also got The Simpsons, one of the most recognizable and popular entertainment brands in the world, as part of the deal, and the company is still finding ways to make those beloved characters a bigger part of its overall image.
In the past, this has included things like putting The Simpsons front and center in ads for things like Disney+, but now it also includes theatrical exhibition. The official Simpsons Instagram revealed that, for the first time, the show will premiere a brand-new short film in front of a Disney release. The short, titled "Playdate with Destiny," will follow Maggie Simpson and will play in theaters everywhere in front of Pixar's latest adventure, Onward.
Short films created by Pixar animators running ahead of their feature films have been a tradition at the studio since A Bug's Life was released in 1997. With the exception of Coco (which was released with the Disney short Olaf's Frozen Adventure) and Toy Story 4 (which was released without a short), all subsequent Pixar releases have included a Pixar-created short film, many of which have gone on to receive acclaim in their own right. Since Geri's Game, which ran with A Bug's Life in 1997, Pixar animators have won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film four times, including the most recent win for Bao at last year's Oscars.
As we've previously mentioned, this is not the first time a non-Pixar short has run with a Pixar feature, as Disney chose to boost its own animated property with Olaf's Frozen Adventure back in 2017. But this is the first time since the acquisition that The Simpsons has been placed in the midst of a hype wave surrounding a new Disney animated feature release, though. Is Disney simply trying to boost its association with the Simpsons brand, testing the waters for more Simpsons animation on the big-screen (long or short form), or both? Time will tell, but next week families everywhere will get a dose of Simpsons fun before the Pixar lamp hops onto the screen.
Onward is in theaters March 6.