Chances are strong that we’ll never fully know what went on behind the scenes of Pixar’s ‘The Good Dinosaur,’ which was originally scheduled for release in 2014. After a long delay, the firing of the old director, the hiring of a new director, and extensive retooling to the film’s story and structure, the film is finally scheduled to debut next year. Pixar is now opening up ever-so-slightly about what’s going on with this project, releasing a new piece of concept art and explaining some of the changes the film has undergone.

In a profile on the film over at the Los Angeles Times, new director Peter Sohn says that the central core of ‘The Good Dinosaur’ hasn't changed, but the story itself has gone through some radical reinvention. Here's a direct quote:

The heart of the story remains the same. It’s always been about this young dinosaur growing up. But the world itself has changed a lot. Nature has become a character.

As for the “heart of the story,” here’s how the article describes the film, which is pretty similar to the synopsis we’ve been hearing about for the past few years:

...the film still posits that an asteroid never hit the Earth and the dinosaurs never went extinct; a teenage Apatosaurus named Arlo takes a wild, young human boy named Spot as a pet.

So what exactly when down between Pixar and original director Bob Peterson, who is still employed by the studio and working on films like ‘Finding Dory’ and ‘Inside Out’? By all accounts, it was because the film simply wasn’t working in its original form and that Peterson was slow to make vital decisions to fix it. The members of the Pixar brain trust quoted in the original article say that his stepping down was all about ensuring that a good movie became a great movie, but the change was disastrous for the studio, forcing them to go a whole year without a new release and to fire 50 employees. Peterson himself has refused to comment on the situation and everything on the record has been diplomatic. As for Pixar itself, the studio is trying reposition ‘The Good Dinosaur’ as the next film from everyone’s favorite animation maestros, not a troubled production that reeks of disaster.

And to be fair, it’s a campaign that seems to be working. Sohn is a Pixar veteran who knows his way around a good story and the film itself sounds charming. The new concept art (which you can click on below to get a closer look) features two typically adorable character designs and, like the best concept art, evokes a specific tone. This looks and sounds like a very sweet movie.

Pixar isn’t afraid to make massive changes to films already deep into production. They famously started ‘Toy Story 2’ over from scratch when it wasn’t good enough. They hired Brad Bird to take over ‘Ratatouille’ when the original director was let go deep into development (and ended up with a masterpiece for their trouble). Even ‘Brave’ saw a director change-up, but that was an uglier situation that resulted in a not-so-great film. In other words, this is nothing new; it was just a little louder this time around.

For more details on ‘The Good Dinosaur,’ make sure you check out the article linked above. The film itself is set to open on November 25, 2015.

Pixar