It’s about this time of year that we start getting trailers, posters, character teases and snippets of a whole world of childrens’ films coming to our screens. As per usual, Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks will be going head to head, although for now let’s discount Dreamworks because theirs is actually more of a Christmas film. So Pixar and its parent company are facing off for animated film of the summer. Normally it wouldn’t even be news-worthy but this year something has changed.

Despite being part of the same company, Disney and Pixar’s films have always been hugely different. Take 2010 for example; having had disappointing results from their return to a more classic style with The Princess and the Frog (which, incidentally, was fabulous), Disney decided to up their game and make Tangled, a film that used the same animation style as Pixar but was still stylistically recognizable as Disney. The non-verbal but very pretty central-character animals was a giveaway, as was the re-imagining of a classic story and songs, albeit fairly lackluster by Disney’s usual stratospheric standards.

Where Pixar uses their animating skills to show off some new texture (Finding Nemo - water, Monsters Inc. - fur, etc), Tangled had no real reason for being made, per se, other than Disney needed to catch up. That, or they needed a way to update their princess tropes to the standards audiences expect these days. Either way, it wasn’t nearly as good as their classic stuff and Princess and the Frog was better. Changing your way of working for the sake of it doesn’t work, or does it?

This year, Disney are releasing Wreck-It Ralph whilst Pixar are taking on Celtic mythology with Brave. Brave is the tale of a princess who wants more to her life than being a princess. She wants to be in charge of her own fate and so off she goes with her bow and arrow in search of it. Wreck-It Ralph, as you may not know, follows Ralph the Wreck-It guy from an arcade game. He’s bored of being the bad guy so hops on a train to discover a new game to take part in. Now, which one sounds like the Pixar film? Not Brave.

Early reports suggest Brave is another Cars. It’s a good film, and visually stunning, but not good by Pixar’s standards. With that in mind, Disney now have a chance to swipe the yearly summer win from Pixar. It’s as if the companies have made their films and swapped for the release.

It’s going to be an interesting summer now in the animated world. Disney have completely changed their approach to story and seem to have passed the Princess obsession onto Pixar, whilst the young(er) guns have attempted more of a strong-female revival; having their heroine announce she’s not a lesbian however makes it seem like they’re a little wide of the mark, and there’s too much of a fairytale element still. Maybe they got confused as to what they were doing but it’s not looking good. I reckon Disney have it in the bag this year, and Wreck-It Ralph will hopefully herald a new era for them and their fans.