Four years ago, Pixar teased plans to craft a brand new animation about Dia de los Muertos, the Mexican holiday in which friends and family gather in unison to remember lost loved ones. Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson of Toy Story 3 fame were elected at the helm, before the project quickly went dark.
Bringing an end to that radio silence today is Entertainment Weekly, after premiering the poignant synopsis for Pixar’s latest original movie. It’s now known as Coco, and will star Renée Victor, Benjamin Bratt, Gael Garcia Bernal and the up-and-coming Anthony Gonzalez as Miguel, a young Mexican who longs to become a famous musician. Said to be one of Pixar’s most musical projects to date – without strictly being classed as a full-blown musical – Unkrich stressed the importance of assembling an all-Latino cast while chatting to EW, before revealing that due to Coco‘s prolonged stint in development, the studio opted to recast Miguel as time wore on, opening up the field for the young Gonzalez to take point as the film’s lead.
Here’s the extensive synopsis, per EW:
Coco follows the secret musical ambitions of 12-year-old Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), who resides in a lively, loud Mexican village but comes from a family of shoemakers that may be the town’s only music-hating household. For generations, the Riveras have banned music because they believe they’ve been cursed by it; as their family history goes, Miguel’s great-grandfather abandoned his wife decades earlier to follow his own dreams of performing, leaving Imelda (Renée Victor), Miguel’s great-grandmother, to take control as the matriarch of the now-thriving Rivera line and declare music dead to the family forever.
But Miguel harbors a secret desire to seize his musical moment, inspired by his favorite singer of all time, the late Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). It’s only after Miguel discovers an amazing link between himself and De la Cruz that he takes action to emulate the famous singer and, in doing so, accidentally enters the Land of the Dead.
In the beautiful underworld, it’s not long until Miguel encounters the souls of his own family — generations’ worth of long-dead but no less vivacious Rivera ancestors, including great-grandmother Imelda. Still, given the opportunity to roam around the Land of the Dead, Miguel decides to track down De la Cruz himself. He teams up with another friendly (and skeletal) spirit — a trickster named Hector, voiced by Gael Garcia Bernal — to find De la Cruz, earn his family’s blessing to perform, and return to the Land of the Living before time runs out.
Coco has been pegged for release on November 22, 2017. Closer to home, we have the launch of animated sequel Cars 3, which looks set to put series hero Lightning McQueen through the wringer. Look for that one to screech into theaters on June 16, 2017.