A few years ago, I had lunch with the head of a major motion picture studio, who declared that his central problem was not finding good people—it was finding good ideas. Since then, when giving talks, I’ve asked audiences whether they agree with him. Almost always there’s a 50/50 split, which has astounded me because I couldn’t disagree more with the studio executive. Pixar President Ed Catmull on the culture that generates Pixar's artistic and commercial success.
Grantland: "This is the Animated Movie Sadness Index. It’s very simple, though perhaps easy to get confused by. This is not a ranking of sad moments from animated movies. For example: Charlotte dying in Charlotte’s Web was a sad moment. But Charlotte wasn’t a sad character, nor was Wilbur, so they aren’t here. Because this Sadness Index charts characters with sad backstories — tragic figures with dark histories, who endure the most awful of circumstances."
At first glance, you might think The Incredibles is just a fun superhero movie. But remove the capes and tights and you're left with an in-depth architectural narrative with its own beginning and end.
Merida, Pixar's "Brave's" red-headed heroine will be crowned Disney's 11th princess on May 11. And just in time for her royal coronation, she has been given a "Victoria's Secret" makeover. This makeover has caused some outrage in the blogosphere, and has even inspired a change.org petition launched by A Mighty Girl, a girl's empowerment website.
Thousands of movie posters from the Mouse, from Alice's Day at Sea (March 1, 1924) to Wreck-It-Ralph (November 2, 2012). Includes US and foreign posters, historical and modern versions (the changes in poster design are particularly interesting), trailers and advertising material. The site (in French) covers movies produced under the Disney umbrella (including Touchstone, Hollywood Pictures and Pixar but not Miramax): shorts and feature films, animated and live action movies, classic and less classic works.
How Disney Bought Lucasfilm—and Its Plans for 'Star Wars' is an interesting BusinessWeek article on how one media conglomerate went about buying another, and how it plans on improving the value of both. [more inside]
Does It Matter If the Heroine of 'Brave' Is Gay? [Contains spoilers for Brave]
The Prize - a two minute clip/trailer from Pixar’s Brave. You can also see some lovely production art and sculptures here.
Google, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Disney, Pixar, Intuit and Lucasfilm are facing a lawsuit for their for their "no poaching" agreements (Bloomberg, TechCrunch). [more inside]
40 Year Old 3D Computer Graphics, created by Edwin Catmull and Fred Parke (with some help from Bob Ingebretsen) in... wait for it... 1972!
It was bound to happen eventually. After a quarter-century, 26 Academy Awards, and an unparalleled streak of eleven artistic and commercial triumphs, Pixar's latest project, Cars 2, is Certified Rotten. Critics have assailed the film as a slick but hollow vehicle for Disney's $10 billion-dollar Cars
merchandising industry "lifestyle brand," replacing the original's serviceable tale of small-town redemption with zany spy games, hyperactive chase sequences, and even more lowbrow aww-shucks potty humor from Larry the Cable Guy. But it's not all bad news! Along with a fun new Toy Story 3 short, preceding today's (3-D) premiere showings is a first look at next year's Brave -- a darkly magical original story set in ancient Scotland featuring the studio's first female lead (and director). Evocative high-res concept art [mirror] is available at the official website, and character sketches have leaked to the web, with the apparently striking teaser trailer sure to follow. Also, be sure not to miss the sneak peak of Brave's associated short, "La Luna"!
Unlike many cinematic exports, the Disney canon of films distinguishes itself with an impressive dedication to dubbing. Through an in-house service called Disney Character Voices International, not just dialogue but songs, too, are skillfully re-recorded, echoing the voice acting, rhythm, and rhyme scheme of the original work to an uncanny degree (while still leaving plenty of room for lyrical reinvention). The breadth of the effort is surprising, as well -- everything from Arabic to Icelandic to Zulu gets its own dub, and their latest project, The Princess and the Frog, debuted in more than forty tongues. Luckily for polyglots everywhere, the exhaustiveness of Disney's translations is thoroughly documented online in multilanguage mixes and one-line comparisons, linguistic kaleidoscopes that cast new light on old standards. Highlights: "One Jump Ahead," "Prince Ali," and "A Whole New World" (Aladdin) - "Circle of Life," "Hakuna Matata," and "Luau!" (The Lion King) - "Under the Sea" and "Poor Unfortunate Souls" (The Little Mermaid) - "Belle" and "Be Our Guest" (Beauty and the Beast) - "Just Around the Riverbend" (Pocahontas) - "One Song" and "Heigh-Ho" (Snow White) - "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" (Cinderella) - Medley (Pinocchio) - "When She Loved Me" (Toy Story 2) - Intro (Monsters, Inc.)
Chilean graphic designer Juan Pablo Bravo (Flickr profile, blogspot blog) makes some pretty awesome character infographics. (Warning: the following links go to large sized flickr photos) 70 Disney Villains : 250 Disney Characters :
100 200 Pixar Characters (sorta previously) : 50 Movie Cars : and his most recent (and my personal favorite) 600 Hanna-Barbara Characters (via). [more inside]
Toy Story 3 hits theaters today, and it's already winning universal acclaim as an enchanting and heartbreaking wonderwork, employing understated 3D and a "real-time" perspective that deftly capitalizes on the nostalgia and can't-go-home-again angst of a generation that grew up with the series. It has a strong pedigree, with 11-year-old predecessor Toy Story 2 the rare sequel to equal its forebear, 1995's Toy Story (itself the first CGI feature in history). And it joins a lofty stable of films: over the last 15 years, Pixar has put out an unbroken chain of ten commercial and critical successes that have grossed over $5 billion worldwide and collected 24 Academy Awards (including the second-ever Best Picture nom for animation with Up), a legacy that rivals some of the greatest franchises in film history. But there's rumbling on the horizon. Although the studio has been hailed for its originality (of the 50 top-grossing movies in history, only nine were original stories -- and five of them were by Pixar), two of their upcoming projects are sequels, both of them based some of their least-acclaimed films (Cars 2 in 2011 and Monsters, Inc. 2 in 2012). And while 2012 will also bring
The Bear and the Bow Brave, the first Pixar flick to feature a female protagonist [previously], fellow newcomer Newt has been canceled. With WALL-E/Up/Toy Story 3 guru Andrew Stanton focusing on his 2012 adaptation of John Carter of Mars and with forays into live-action already in development, does this mark the end of the golden age of Pixar? Or is this latest entry lasting proof that even the toughest case of sequelitis can be raised to the level of masterpiece? [more inside]
People have been trying to make the appearance of three-dimensional movement almost as far back as the first movie cameras. The very first efforts used stereoscopy (more pre-vious-ly), which wasn't functional for theater-settings. In 1915, the first public test of 3D film was deemed unsuccessful, as images presented with green/red lenses detracted from the plot, but that didn't stop people from trying to make 3D films. Polarized glasses are another inexpensive method of simulated 3D, while shutterglasses are a more costly method. Up to 1998 or so, there were approximately 187 3D movies made, not counting porn, cartoons and shorts (which bring the 1998 total to 263). 2009 is supposedly the year that 3D movies really take off, as it has been reported that 3D films are expected to gross over $1bn (£700m) at the box office next year, a five-fold increase on their $200m haul in 2008. There are some really big titles coming, including the "3D drug trip" that is Avatar, and all of the announced future Pixar releases will get the Digital Disney 3-D treatment. But 3D isn't limited to the big screen and big companies. The next format war could be over 3D TV. And now the independent production company MeniThings has released the feature-length movie, Battle for Terra. [via mefi projects, and a bit more on the movie after the jump] [more inside]
Behind Pixar’s string of hit movies, says the studio’s president, is a peer-driven process for solving problems. How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity (alternate print link for those having trouble with the first link), by the co-founder of Pixar and the president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios Ed Catmull. [more inside]
While the latest Pixar/Disney animated film, Wall-E (teasers, trailers and clips) debuted as the No. 1 movie this past weekend and has been met with critical acclaim, including a 97% "Fresh Rating" at RottenTomatoes and a 93% ranking by critics and 90% by viewers at MetaCritic, the film has outraged the radical right. "[M]y kids were bombarded with leftist propaganda about the evils of mankind..." "...I will do my part to avoid future environmental armageddon by boycotting any and all WALL-E merchandise and I hope others join my crusade." "I agree that the Malthusian fear mongering was annoying."* [more inside]
In 1983, John Lassetter and Chris Wedge created some test footage that integrated CGI and traditional animation [YouTube] for Disney. The work it was based on? Where The Wild Things Are. The movie was never made and Lassetter left to start Pixar, which redefined how animated movies were created. Curious to see the shorts that led to Toy Story and its followers? Pixar's put all their short films online.
Disney eats crow. Disney, whose former CEO Michael Eisner rejected the idea of Disney being hired to market Pixar's movies, who insisted on owning their sequel rights, and who apparently hoped Finding Nemo would flop so that he could get better negotiating terms with Pixar, is now in talks for buying Pixar outright for approximately $6.7 billion in stock. Steve Jobs gets his revenge... again. How much revenge? 50.1% of $6.7 billion dollars, apparently.
Pixar Dumps Disney: "It is impossible to know how bad this is for Disney." On the other hand: Disney can begin creating sequels to all of Pixar's films, something it could not do under its current arrangement and is almost certain to exploit. On the third hand: One film executive suggested that Mr. Jobs could now be considered a candidate to run Disney if indeed Mr. Eisner ever left.
It's the plot, stupid. USA Today runs their usual insightful commentary about the upcoming release of Lilo and Stitch. It obsesses over the absence of CGI graphics pointing to Atlantis as evidence for the failure of traditional animation to draw box office. Funny me, I thought that Atlantis bombed because of a plot better left in 50s serial format, a cast of sterotypes rather than characters, and no sense of humor beyind dirty French jokes repeated over and over again. And is huge success of Pixar due to their pioneering animation, or their brilliant comic talent? What causes FX myopia anyway? Granted I can understand why fanboys obsess over the wrong things in a movie. Do the studios set it up by trying to hype each new summer release as the next big technical development (while the artistic development gets trumped by Waking Life and Insomnia?)