Pixar Animation Studios is the exemplar of originality in Hollywood. This is what we remind ourselves when we get frustrated that they’ve announced a sequel to Finding Nemo or a prequel to Monsters, Inc. If those sequels turn out to be more like Toy Story 2 instead of Cars 2, then good for all of us. But when we think of Pixar, we think original. They may pay homage to animated and live-action films from across the globe, of course; however, what the animators and filmmakers in Emeryville, California do has always been based on original ideas. Today, after considering a recently unearthed report, it’s time to ponder the opposite: what if Pixar did traffic in adaptations of preexisting material?
Everything in pop culture that we embrace goes through cycles. Something is introduced to the masses, who fall in love with it, and then, after a requisite amount of time, a backlash arises. This is different from a piece of art, whether it’s a film, TV show, or book, being analyzed and criticized from a subjective point of view. Instead, that which is initially beloved begins to wear thin on some members of its audiences even if they are the ones who changed, not the art itself. (Take, for instance, the current season of AMC’s Mad Men, which has received countless plaudits in the past but is now receiving more unfriendly reactions because it’s inherently the same show, unchanging in its sixth year.) Backlash can be vexing, but it is not uncommon. And so it makes sense that the last couple of years, for Pixar, have been full of such a negative turn.
Quoting the late Walt Disney is fairly commonplace in the world of the Disney theme parks. Anywhere you walk in Disneyland or Walt Disney World, you’ll see a quote attributed to Disney, whether or not the quote is totally accurate. (He may not have said, in so many words, “If you dream it, you can do it,” for example.) One quote that is prevalent and does belong to him can be spotted in a plaque at the gateway between the entrance plaza to the Magic Kingdom (or Disneyland Park) and Main Street, U.S.A.: “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.” In short, if you allow yourself to submit to the cloistered theme-park worlds within, you are essentially engaging in a potent, immediate form of escapism.
Depending on your age and attitude, it has become very difficult over the last month to not be cynical about the state of affairs at the Walt Disney Company. Though Disney appears to be, financially, as high as they’ve ever been, the company is cutting costs left and right, up to and including letting long-time employees go. Some of the more high-profile layoffs have targeted, inadvertently, one hopes, touchstones of many a Millennial child. Last year, people thrilled at the idea that Disney was now in league with the seminal video-game company LucasArts as part of buying Lucasfilm as a whole. A few weeks ago, those same people were depressed to hear that Disney shuttered the company for good, essentially outsourcing future video games. And now, Disney’s axed a number of their most venerated employees in the hand-drawn animation department, cementing the notion that hand-drawn animation is persona non grata at a company that built its reputation on that illustrative vision.
Consciously or not, we often look for the existence of the human in the art we consume. Sometimes, that presence is visible, and sometimes it’s just outside of the frame of the filmmaker’s camera or the words on the author’s page or inches away from the artist’s canvas. But we want and expect some form of humanity to be present in what we watch or read. In film, this manifests differently in live-action versus animation, the latter of which has been criticized for the “uncanny valley” effect, when human characters are rendered in such a way that’s off-putting, distracting for perhaps being too realistic, uncomfortably human. Pixar Animation Studios has not yet fallen into the uncanny valley, but it’s interesting to watch the evolution of their computer-animation technology from as far back as their pre-feature shorts up to Brave, in part because so much of their work is infused with the presence of humans even when none physically appear. Except for the films in the Cars franchise.
Great movie trailers are something of a lost art. While we are overloaded with ads for every new big-budget movie these days, they’re getting more obnoxious, cacophonous, and ruinous. Depending on the movie, you can go onto its website or YouTube and see a handful of TV spots—most of which repurpose the same shots, action, and dialogue, but tweak them ever so slightly to stand out—as well as teaser trailers and full trailers that often lay out a movie’s entire plot. If they don’t, they’re almost certainly going to show you some of the most impressive bits of action or the funniest jokes. It feels as if we’ve been clucking our tongues at trailers that spoil the films they sell since the advent of the Internet. So why, exactly, should we watch trailers for movies we know we’re going to see? [Read more...]
Over the last two decades, Pixar Animation Studios has been able to top its competitors by reaching an almost unattainbly high level of quality. Pixar isn’t worried, it seems, with topping DreamWorks, but topping only what they’ve done in the past. Those rival studios—really, any studio making a family film, animated or not—are judged against whatever Pixar makes, but the Emeryville, California company raises the bar mostly so they can clear it before anyone else does. We may become rapidly disappointed at their output when they release something like Cars 2 after Toy Story 3, but it’s only because when Pixar delivers on a promise of brilliance, they do so in such unbelievable, ridiculous, unexpectedly moving ways. Their various consecutive runs of quality are unparalleled in the modern film industry, which they’ve worked hard to be separate from. Pixar works with Disney, fully ensconced in the culture of Hollywood, but being placed hundreds of miles north makes them feel totally separate, even now. And yet, there is one disturbing trait they share with the greater film industry, one that needs to be fixed soon: Pixar has a woman problem.
Amazon currently has both the Toy Story Ultimate Toy Box Collection and Cars Director’s Edition Blu-ray/DVD box sets discounted by 50%. The Toy Story set is 10-discs and collects all films of the trilogy in Blu-ray, DVD, and digital copy formats. The complete 11-disc Cars set holds the two feature films, along with Cars Toon: Mater’s Tall Tales. Additionally, the recent 8-disc Lion King Trilogy set is 50% off as well. This is the last day of the deal, so act fast! [Read more...]
A few months ago, not only did I have the chance to talk to Cars 2 composer Michael Giacchino and story supervisor Nate Stanton – I was lucky to also be able to talk to the supervisors of the animation process on the film. Shawn Krause and Dave Mullins served as supervising animators for years before Cars 2 was released in theaters. I spoke with them about their job, how it is working together, and the intricacies of the animation process at Pixar. Read on to view Part 1 of the interview here! [Read more...]
We have learned that the Cars 2 bathroom clip we shared with you earlier today (part of two clips we unveiled) features a voice of a Pixar employee. The voice of the pink car that functions as the on-screen toilet attendant is none other than Pixar character technical director Sonoko Konishi. She also had a voice role as the pink Japanese reporter car in the original Cars. That is a lot of pink for Konishi! Read on for a brief look at how she came to Pixar and just how many films she has worked on during her time at the studio. [Read more...]
Last year, we had a great time counting down to the Blu-ray and DVD release of Toy Story 3 on our PixArt page, as artists shared some fantastic artwork with us. Now, we are pleased to announce that we will be counting down to Cars 2‘s release on June 24. Who will be contributing art for the event? That is a great question! That is where we need your help. Read on for all the details on how you can contribute to this great countdown here. [Read more...]
Pixar’s website tends to receive an update or two with each new feature film release. With Cars 2 fast-approaching, the animation company is featuring a few random stills from the film with each reload of their official site. Two of the stills have been previously released by Disney, but there is a surprise still that we have not seen before, and Upcoming Pixar was the first to catch it:
Today’s serious Cars 2 momentum continues, as Disney/Pixar has just released four brand new stills from the film, which Stitch Kingdom was the first to post. The fantastic new images showcase the action, heart, and charismatic personalities that we are sure to see in the new Pixar film.
Click to view them in a larger size, because they get much, much, much bigger.
In conjunction with the New York International Toy Fair, Disney Consumer Products held a Cars 2 panel, where they spoke about the film, a few new characters, and (of course) the more than 300 toys that will tie in to Pixar’s upcoming movie. Film stars Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer were also on hand to discuss Pixar and their time spent shooting the film. I have kept this article largely spoiler-free, but there are a few plot details (nothing substantial) that are discussed.
[UPDATE 1: Added a gallery of high-resolution photos from the media event at the bottom of the post.]
[UPDATE 2: Added a video recap of yesterday's event below.]
Disney/Pixar has formed a partnership with the Australian-based V8 Supercars (akin to NASCAR) to help raise awareness of the studio’s upcoming film, Cars 2. The first of several stages set forth in the agreement includes a life-size version of MACK. Voiced by Pixar ‘good luck charm,’ John Ratzenberger, MACK is an essential part of Lightning McQueen’s crew, as he manages the transportation of the race-car. [Read more...]
As the promotion for Cars 2 kicks into full gear, Disney/Pixar has done a great job at staying connected with us. The Twitter account for the studio has been continuously active, and the Facebook page for the film has been a nice source of new character images and descriptions. The Cars 2 official website compiles all of the characters that have been announced, along with a few cool extras. [Read more...]
In an interview with MovieWeb posted earlier today, Toy Story 3 director, Lee Unkrich, talks about the overwhelming success of his film:
It was very, very cool to see this little movie we made in Emeryville, California be embraced by so many different cultures around the world.
The interview then shifted to Pixar’s upcoming films. I have listed the highlights of the interview: [Read more...]
After the release of Cars in 2006, Pixar has been releasing shorts set in the Cars universe, entitled Mater’s Tall Tales. Each story revolves around Mater telling what is seemingly a tall tale about himself. On Friday, July 30, a new “Cars Toon” is set to premiere on the Disney Channel, “Monster Truck Mater”. This is now the sixth episode in the Mater’s Tall Tales series, following such episodes as “Unidentified Flying Mater”, and “El Materdor”. The official description for the episode follows:
Jim Hill Media is reporting that John Lasseter is being brought aboard the production of Pixar’s next release, Cars 2, to co-direct. Lasseter had stepped back from day-to-day duties at Pixar when he became Chief Creative Officer at Disney, as well as the Principal Creative Advisor for their theme parks around the world. [Read more...]