Last week, I was invited to attend a reception celebrating Pixar’s 25th Anniversary as part of a 2-day press junket for the studio’s films of the year, Cars 2 and Toy Story: Hawaiian Vacation. When I first heard about the reception, I thought that it would simply be the members of the press, along with a few people from the animation studio. I was never glad to be more wrong as not only were many of Pixar’s directors and producers there, but each one of them were extremely kind and more than willing to mingle.
The reception celebration was the first item on the to-do list of the big event, so I was still a bit dazed as I had literally just walked into the studio I had seen so often in pictures and videos. We went up the stairs and were greeted by a nice selection of artwork from their films that were spotlighted as part of the 25-year celebration. It was great to see Pixar highlighting their anniversary, as they have been rather modest about it so far. (Feel free to click the images to view much larger versions!)
When we first arrived, people from the studio were still heading into the party. Mostly, I hung out with two individuals for whom I have much respect, Martin from Upcoming Pixar and Greg from Pixar Talk. First up, we had a great conversation with Bob Peterson (co-director of Up and voice of the hilarious Dug from the film). He was very kind and forthcoming and much taller than I ever imagined!
We also met and spoke to the great Pete Docter (director of Monsters, Inc. and Up), who is currently working on a film that remains unannounced. Docter seemed to be genuinely excited about the film, which is likely to arrive in theaters sometime in the next few years. If you are looking for details on the project, I know nothing (and would not say anything – otherwise, I would be on the run from the Disney/Pixar ninjas, who would descend upon me quickly). Docter was as generous as he seems in interviews in which he has appeared. Personally speaking, he is one of my favorite directors at the studio and his next film is one of my most anticipated. As he brought us the extremely imaginative Monsters, Inc. and the incredibly emotional Up, I think we are in for a real treat when his work hits the big screen once again.
Others who we were able to meet and converse with included Dan Scanlon, Darla K. Anderson (producer of Toy Story 3), Katherine Sarafian (producer of the upcoming Brave), and Jonas Rivera (producer of Up). Scanlon confirmed to us that he would be directing Monsters University, which was very exciting to hear, as it was not yet public knowledge. After talking with Pixar, we were given the go-ahead to make an official announcement of his directorial role. Dan is one of the funniest people at Pixar (as Lee Unkrich will attest to), and it clearly showed during our conversation. I think Monsters University is in great hands, and I am excited to see what he does with the 2013-bound film.
Overall, it was a fantastic night, as I was able to meet and greet many of the great people at Pixar who have given us a ridiculous amount of instant-classics. John Lasseter did not drop by until after we had left to get a tour of the new Pixar building, but I did get a chance to have a brief conversation with him the next day. You might think that speaking with him would be intimidating, as he is the Chief Creative Office of Pixar and Disney, but he is just so genuinely happy that he makes it easy to talk to him.
The night is one I will never forget and it did not even end there! After the tour, we watched Toy Story: Hawaiian Vacation – boy, that was fun!
Much more to come from the press event, including our first impressions of the Toy Story Toon and Cars 2!