Pixar’s Onward Release Date, Cast, Story, News, and More

Pixar brings magic to life with a Weekend at Bernie's twist in upcoming fantasy feature Onward.

Onward Characters Use Magic Staff
Photo: Pixar Animation Studios

Onward, the newest feature film from Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios, is bringing some modern magic to life with an all-star cast. As fine an example of a “high-concept” pitch as Pixar has ever produced, Onward promises wizardry, a quest, and a Weekend at Bernie’s twist to a family reunion. Onward follows teenage elf brothers Ian Lightfoot (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt) on their “extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left out there.” That magic? A chance to reunite with their long-lost father. 

Director Dan Scanlon, known from 2013’s Monsters University and 2009 live-action mockumentary Tracy, assumes the helm here, joined by producer Kori Rae, a producing partner of his from M.U.

…With that said, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of Onward!

Onward Trailer

The new trailer shows Ian and Barley Lightfoot claiming their birthright: their father’s magical staff. As previously revealed, their papa might’ve been an accountant by day, but by night he was a powerful wizard, and he left them a spell that will bring him back into their lives for a day. But what if the boys mess up the spell and only resurrect his bottom half? Well..

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And here is the first teaser, complete wit hits “Hocus Pocus” by Focus musical cue.

Onward Release Date

Onward is scheduled to arrive at theaters on March 6, 2020. 

Onward Cast

The primary Onward cast consists of the following:

Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy films), Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) and Octavia Spencer (The Shape of Water).

Of the voice cast, director Scanlon and producer Rae express in a statement:

“Chris brings equal parts huge heart and fantastic humor to his character,” said Rae.

 “Tom has an infectious charm and sincerity that makes you root for him in every character he plays,” said Scanlon.

 “There is no one funnier than Julia,” said Scanlon, “but she also brings a warmth and loving side to her character.”

 “Octavia can do it all,” said Rae. “We’re especially excited about the depth as well as humor that she brings to her character.”

Onward Story

Here’s the official Onward logline:

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Set in a suburban fantasy world, Disney•Pixar’s Onward introduces two teenage elf brothers who embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left out there.

The feature that we would come to know as Onward was first dangled to the public back at the July 2017 D23 Expo as “the untitled Pixar film that takes you to a suburban fantasy world,” coupled with the imagery of a dragon flying over a small hamlet.

Since then we’ve learned much more about Onward, including when Den of Geek visited Pixar Animation Studios in 2019 to get a behind-the-scenes look at the film. During our time there, director Dan Scanlon elaborated on the film’s actual thematic heart in a story about two brothers discovering their long deceased accountant father was actually a wizard… and his staff can bring him back for a day.

“The story is inspired by my own relationship with my brother and our connection with our dad, who passed away when I was about a year old,” Scanlon said. “He’s always been a mystery to us. A family member sent us a tape recording of him saying just two words: ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye.’ Two words. But to my brother and me—it was magic.”

Magic itself is key to the story of Onward, even if it has a mundanity to it. In the film, an ancient medieval fairy tale world has evolved into our own modern (and often suburban) status quo. Magic did and still exists, but it is like an unfashionable folk song custom.

“Magic is possible, it’s just that nobody really does it anymore,” said producer Kori Rae.

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That may be, but hopefully the movie will have plenty of magic when it opens in March.

Joseph Baxter is a contributor for Den of Geek and Syfy Wire. You can find his work here. Follow him on Twitter @josbaxter.