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Andrew Stanton to Direct Pixar's 'Finding Nemo' Sequel

DISNEY BLAME GAME: Andrew Stanton

The director, who stumbled with the live-action flop "John Carter," returns to his animation roots with a follow-up to his 2003 undersea adventure.

Andrew Stanton is heading back to animation, signing on to direct a sequel to Pixar’s Finding Nemo, the 2003 modern classic he co-directed.

Victoria Strouse, who wrote the 2008 Black list script The Apostles of Infinite Love, is writing the script and Lindsey Collins is producing. A 2016 release date is being eyed.

PHOTOS: An Essential Guide to Pixar's Movies

The move could be perceived as a return to a safer ground after the disastrous results of John Carter, Stanton's big live-action debut. The movie’s performance forced Disney to take a $200 million write-down. And while the filmmaker may still harbor live-action dreams, Nemo 2 will effectively take up all most of his time for the next four years or so.

The move is also a safe one by Pixar, the company that once was praised for cranking out original film after original film, but now seems to trying to balance commercial prospects with unique creations.

The Toy Story sequels were considered exceptions to the rules but Cars 2 was seen as a pure commercial play, even by Pixar’s own animators, who weren’t happy to work on it.

The company is in the midst of a sequel to Monsters Inc. and a sequel to Nemo -- which won the Oscar for best animated picture, garnered several others, and really elevated the company and the animation genre -- is sure to be greeted by some scorn and skepticism by Pixar and animation fans.

Nemo is considered one of the jewels in the treasure chest and will only raise questions whether sequels to Wall-E (directed by Stanton) and Up are far behind.

Pixar is hard at work on three new original projects which will hit screens in the coming years: The Good Dinosaur (directed by Bob Peterson and slated for May 30, 2014; untitled inside the mind project (from Up's Pete Doctor, with a June 19, 2015 release); and an untitled movie about Dia de los muertos (directed by Nemo co-director Lee Unkrich).