Though it isn’t the first of Pixar’s films to inspire audiences to reach for as many tissues as possible, Up may be the most universally successful at getting grown men and women to do some good old-fashioned ugly crying. Up, released in May of 2009, was the first of Pixar’s films to be presented in both 2D and digital 3D; that latter format allowed many to use their 3D glasses as a shield, to make sure no one around them saw the tears streaming down their cheeks. However, just as it’s a predictable response that the majority of people who saw Up were viscerally impacted by the first 10 minutes, the reaction to the film as a whole has also become slightly stereotypical, summed up as follows: the so-called “Married Life” montage, in which we watch the lead character, Carl Fredricksen, and his wife, Ellie, as they live their lives over multiple decades, culminating in her death at an old age, is excellent. It’s amazing! It’s emotional! And the rest of the film can’t even begin to compete with its devastating, heartbreaking finality.
Last week, this column pondered why, exactly, Disney and/or Pixar Animation Studios were holding back on a teaser trailer for their next film, The Good Dinosaur, which is slated to open in May of 2014. By the time the article was published early Tuesday afternoon, the rumor mill was in high churn about the film’s status. Was its director, Bob Peterson, being taken off the project? Would this explain why he wasn’t present at the Pixar presentation at last month’s D23 Expo? Did this explain his ever-changing Twitter biography? (If only that last question was a joke, but no, that’s something fans were left to ponder as Disney stayed silent.) On Friday, the rumor became news: Peterson had indeed been booted off The Good Dinosaur sometime “over the summer,” and presumably before the D23 Expo. The project is now reportedly in the hands of a mix of people, including the film’s co-director Peter Sohn (known equally well for his behind-the-scenes animation work as for voicing characters like Emile in Ratatouille), Lee Unkrich, and John Lasseter himself.
D23 Expo: Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, Others Reflect On Pixar Films And Source Of Their Inspiration
John Lasseter kicked off Disney’s massive D23 Expo with a look at what is coming next in the world of Disney and Pixar animation. The packed arena presentation was easily the highlight of Day 1 and offered fans a first look at the company’s upcoming slate of animated offerings. Pixar’s highly anticipated roster included next year’s The Good Dinosaur and 2015′s Inside Out. However, it wasn’t all forward thinking taking place on Friday. Late in the afternoon, a handful of Pixar creatives took some time to look back.
At the D23 Expo in 2011, Pixar had a huge presence, as it was the studio’s 25th Anniversary. The first scene from Brave was previewed almost a year before the film’s release, character art from Monsters University was unveiled, 2014′s The Good Dinosaur and 2015′s Inside Out were announced, and a retrospective panel was held with the talented pool of Pixar directors. With the 2013 iteration of the convention just over one week away, the schedule for Pixar panels has just been released. After the break, find out what the studio has in store for show attendees this time!
Pete Docter has an incredible resume, having contributed to the story for Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and WALL-E, in addition to having directed Monsters, Inc. and Up, two of Pixar’s critically-acclaimed films. Although you may wonder why he did not direct Monsters University, the prequel to his first directorial effort at the studio, the reasoning is that he was working on an ambitious original project called Inside Out. The film, which takes place inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl, is a fascinating concept but difficult to describe. After the break, find what Docter had to say about what is making the development process challenging as well!
It’s been just over a month since Pixar’s newest film, Monsters University, opened wide across North America. While the financial response has been solid—at this point, it seems safe to assume that Monsters University will end up as Pixar’s fourth-highest-grossing film domestically, just behind Up—the critical response was slightly more mild, though not outright negative or contentious. (The film has a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes and 65 out of 100 on Metacritic; neither are bad numbers, of course, and this column has recently pointed out the shakiness of using these critic-aggregation websites as the foundation of an argument against Pixar’s perceived decline. But the rapturous response of some of the studio’s recent films is, by and large, not present for Monsters University, earned or not.) The attitude among some film lovers is either that Pixar’s golden days are permanently over, or that a lack of qualitative consistency is going to be the norm from now on.
We’re only a few days away from a very exciting time of year for Pixar fans, the release of their newest film. For their fourteenth effort, as you are no doubt aware, Pixar is looking back with a prequel to Monsters, Inc. called Monsters University, in which we see how Mike Wazowski, James P. Sullivan and the rest of the Monstropolis crew became the adult monsters they were in the 2001 movie through their collegial exploits. And so, why not spend today’s column looking back at that original movie for another monthly look at a Pixar moment? The world of Monstropolis, sometimes more teased at than revealed in full, is a fascinating parallel to humanity, yet its apex is a series of doors to our world.
Late last week, the Walt Disney Company decided to expand our knowledge of their inner workings just a little bit, specific to the future of their animation studios. Anyone who may have been concerned, for example, that Walt Disney Feature Animation would be going the way of the dodo (this writer is among them) could breathe a bit easier because of this news story. In some ways, the entire story is fairly random—why Disney chose to announce its animation slate through 2018 at the end of May 2013, we may never know—but it’s got plenty of information we can parse through. Specific to Pixar and this week’s column, the topic of concern is multiple films in one year.
Depending on who you listen to, cinema is dying. Or cinema is dead. Pining for the fjords, or soon to be buried, don’t forget: the medium of film is in serious trouble. Recently, director Steven Soderbergh—who’s been very public about retiring for the last couple of years, and is finally heading out after his HBO biopic about Liberace premieres later this month—gave an address at the San Francisco International Film Festival, holding court for nearly an hour on how the difference between cinema and movies has opened an immense and irreparable divide between art and commerce, one that few filmmakers can bridge. Over the weekend, this video was posted around the Internet; in it, Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle categorized the problem he saw with mainstream cinema as being the “Pixarification” of films.
Ever since the release of Up, many of us (translation: I) have been anxiously awaiting for Pete Docter’s next directorial effort. His next film was announced at the D23 Expo two years ago. It was described as taking us inside the mind of a girl, with emotions embodied as characters. While we had a very brief synopsis, we still did not have an official title. A few months ago, there were reports that the film had been given a title, but had not yet been announced to the public. Today, in conjunction with CinemaCon, Disney/Pixar has officially titled the film Inside Out.
Over the last year or so, there’s been a trend online where people create short videos in which they list a series of problems they spotted in a mainstream movie, from Skyfall to Looper to The Dark Knight Rises. These videos all have received a disturbing amount of traction, as if their creators deserve a pat on the back for seeing what the rest of us, apparently, didn’t see or chose to ignore. These bite-sized excuses for modern film criticism are created by people who presume they’re being insightful, which is far from the truth. Better still, when they’re called out for their unnecessary whining, as happened when Looper’s director, Rian Johnson, got audibly frustrated at one of these videos, they half-heartedly shield themselves behind the “Oh, it’s just a joke!” excuse. Among Pixar films, Brave avoided this nitpicking—at least on such a grand scale. But if this video is any hint, we may need to batten down the virtual hatches because the nitpickers are already unloading on Monsters University. [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.
We have covered projects that Pixar employees work on their own outside of the animation studio because, similar to the films that they work on, their own projects are often creative, ambitious, and imaginative. Does reinventing the emoticon fit those characteristics? Pixar artist Matt Jones is currently working with Facebook to provide us with a broader set of emoticons to choose from. Find more details after the break!
First Look: Concept Art For ‘The Good Dinosaur,’Inside The Mind’ Film, And ‘Dia de los Muertos’ Film
This past year has been the busiest that we have seen from Pixar, with the release of Brave, La Luna, PartySaurus Rex, Finding Nemo 3D, Monsters, Inc. 3D and the opening of Cars Land in Disney California Adventure. On New Year’s Eve, the animation studio is looking directly ahead, as a number of original films are in the works. Pixar has shared brand new concept artwork for several of its upcoming films over the next few years, which you can take a peek at after the break!
Chronicle Books and Pixar have worked together for over a decade to deliver art books filled with gorgeous pre-production artwork created during the development of films from the animation powerhouse. Years are devoted to exploring ideas in art form at the studio, so getting a chance to take a peek at the behind-the-scenes process is often awe-inspiring. With Monsters University on deck for release this summer, that means another art book will be making its way to stores. Actually, The Art of Monsters University was recently listed for pre-order, giving us a look at the possible cover for the book. Take a look at it after the break!
There have been a rash untitled Pixar films that have been announced over the last few years – The Untitled Film About Dinosaurs (now called The Good Dinosaur), The Untitled Dia de los Muertos Film, and The Untitled Film That Takes You Inside The Mind. From the little that we know about these three films, I have found the Mind film to be the most intriguing, mostly because it is to be directed by Pete Docter, who sat in the director’s chair for Monsters, Inc. and Up. We had been unsure of when the film would receive its title, but a report has just emerged that the Docter film will be called The Inside Out.
Before Pixar’s focus turned to feature films, the studio mastered the art of the short. Back in the 1980s, animation technology was far more limited than it is now, but John Lasseter and company were still able to blow audiences away with revolutionary computer animation but more important than that, stories with heart. After the release of Pixar Shorts Volume 1 , which collected such memorable shorts as Luxo, Jr., Tin Toy, and For The Birds on DVD and Blu-ray, many have been anticipating a Volume 2. The time is now, as the Blu-ray and DVD for the second volume has just gone up for pre-order!
One of the reasons why Monsters, Inc. is one of my favorite Pixar films is the imaginative world created by director Pete Docter and his supporting staff – the character design and architecture of Monstropolis are incredibly creative, bringing a unique bustling city to life on the screen. Back in 2001, Monsters, Inc. was the first film to receive the “Art of…” treatment from Chronicle Books, which has gone on to release a stunning art book for each subsequent Pixar release. After being unavailable for sale through retailers for years, the hardcover book is now back in print! [Read more...]
Cafe Where Pixar Came Up With ‘A Bug’s Life,’ ‘Monsters, Inc.,’ ‘Finding Nemo,’ and ‘WALL-E’ Shuts Down
Hidden City Cafe is well-known in Pixar lore, as it is the location of a very special lunch that studio employees had – a lunch where they came up with the ideas for four of its films. Andrew Stanton, John Lasseter, Pete Docter, and Joe Ranft (RIP) gathered for a memorable meal at the cafe, as they outlined ideas that went on to become A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, and WALL-E. The cafe has often been visited by Pixar fans, to get a taste of the birthplace of so many of the studio’s films. However, when one fan recently dropped by, he discovered that the place had been shut down. [Read more...]
Each year at CinemaCon, movie theater owners gather to get a preview of coming films from movie studios. This year, Pixar used the Disney presentation to announce the title for its previously untitled film about dinosaurs. Additionally, Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich, who was rumored to be working on a brand new Pixar film, is now confirmed to be working on a film due in 2015 or 2016. Get a rundown on the big news after the jump! [Read more...]