Pixar Bumps ‘Cars 2’ Up To 2011, Owen Wilson MIA?

John Lasseter just announced to a crowd of journalists assembled at the Kodak Theatre that “Cars 2” has been bumped up to summer 2011, a year ahead of what Disney/Pixar has previously announced in April. He said that animators are currently working around the clock, and that the plot will feature Mater getting his passport as he and Lightning McQueen travel around the world. Suspiciously absent from the description was the character voiced by Paul Newman, who is reportedly in poor health.

Suspiciously absent from the description was the character voiced by Paul Newman, who is reportedly in poor health – odd, perhaps, given that Lassetter told MTV News in June that fans could expect to see much more of Doc Hudson in the sequel.

“Well, you know, his character is coming back,” Lasseter said at the time. “[Newman’s] a good friend of mine, and so we’re just waiting to see [if he comes back as well].”

Lasseter also unveiled additional info around the Disney Channel-slated “Cars Toons,” which will feature different tall tales being told by Mater. These cartoon shorts will be appearing on-air, on line and before Disney movies in the next few years.

Lasseter showed the crowd the first of “Mater’s Tall Tales,” which has the character explaining to Lightning that he was once a fire truck. Future installments will feature Mater as an Evil Kneivel-like dardevil, and a matador.

Although the unmistakable voice of Larry the Cable Guy was back as Mater, I’m virtually positive that an Owen Wilson-impersonator had stepped in to voice Lightning McQueen. Could this mean that Disney/Pixar has decided to sever ties with the actor following his recent troubles, or will Owen Wilson return for “Cars 2”?

With “Cars 2” shifting years, one of Pixar’s previously slated 2011 films will almost certainly move to fill the newly created hole in 2012. “newt” had been schelued for a June 2011 release, while “The Princess and the Bow” was slated for Decemeber. Even money is on “Newt” moving to 2012, as the original “Cars” was a summer release.

Are you looking forward to a second dose of “Cars”? Chime in below.