Pixar has become a force to be reckoned with in the movie industry, churning out hit movie after hit movie since the release of the much loved Toy Story back in the ’90s. It has been a pioneer for the art of computer animation, and led the film industry into the 21st century world of animated movies. Its family films have consistently entertained audiences of all ages around the world, and it Pixar become an invaluable asset to the Disney brand.
Despite its vast popularity, a lot of the magic behind the scenes at Pixar has yet to become general knowledge. There is a surprising amount that most people don’t know about Pixar, and a lot more to the film company than meets the eye. From its complicated back story to the films that were never made, and everything else in between, here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Pixar.
15. Tin Toy was the first computer animated film to win an Oscar
It seems Pixar was always destined for greatness, and it began to pave the way for computer animation right from its early days. In 1988 Pixar released Tin Toy, an animated short film that received critical appraise and an Academy award. That’s right, Pixar managed to bag its first Oscar before it had even released a feature length film. Not only that, but it was the first ever Academy award given to a computer animated film.
The film’s massive success left Pixar wanting to get more from the small toy Tinny, and there were plans for a Christmas special featuring the toy to be aired on TV. The plans fell through due to a lack of funding, but Pixar were keen to pursue a sequel of sorts. When Pixar signed a deal to collaborate on a film with Disney, they planned for a film which featured Tinny as a lead. Although Tinny’s part was replaced, the film Toy Story went on to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship between Pixar and Disney.
14. George Lucas had to sell his CGI company to Steve Jobs because of money problems
It seems like 1986 was a pretty bad year for George Lucas. His new CGI film company that he loved so much was already seeing trouble, due to the financial disaster that resulted from the 1986 film Howard The Duck. And it wasn’t just his professional life that was crumbling. He had also just been through a divorce that allegedly put a significant dent in his fortune. It seemed the company was to be doomed, and that Pixar would also be doomed before it was even called Pixar.
All was saved when he eventually sold off the CGI company (very reluctantly) due to his financial problems. and the combination of the company and its new owner struck magic. The buyer was none other than tech genius Steve Jobs, and Pixar was born from there. That’s right, you don’t only have to thank Steve Jobs for all things Apple, but all things Pixar too. The company soon began to get back on its feet thanks to its re-branding and, as they say, the rest is history.
13. Pixar were going to produce a wine to market alongside Ratatouille
Ratatouille was an Oscar winning film about a rat trying to make it as a gourmet chef in Paris. It was a strange concept, but it worked. However not all of Pixar’s zany ideas proved quite so successful. Alongside the release of Ratatouille, Pixar had planned to launch a wine under the brand of Ratatouille. Given that the film’s target audience was children, it was perhaps not the smartest idea.
The plans were scrapped when it became apparent that it would go against regulations that prevent cartoon characters being used on wine labels, in order to prevent underage drinking. Pixar’s plans to produce the wine didn’t come under scrutiny only for that reason though. The French produced wine was planned to be a Chardonnay, and some of the wine critics out there had suggested Pixar should have chosen a wine that would be more suitably served with the famous dish which the film was named after. Well, what do you expect from an animation company?
12. Disney didn’t actually buy Pixar until 2006
Pixar has long been known as Disney’s animation company, but it has only been owned by the mega-brand for 10 years and they didn’t seal the deal until Pixar’s 20th anniversary back in 2006. By this point the two companies had been making films together for over 10 years, and had produced a range of hugely successful titles including Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc and The Incredibles. Given that these titles had given Disney a new lease on life, as well as keeping them ahead of the game in terms of animation films, you would have thought Disney would have been keener to own it a lot sooner.
Their first film together, Toy Story, was immensely successful and enough to encourage Disney to make another film – A Bug’s Life – with them and then later the sequel Toy Story 2. However it wasn’t until the release of Cars in 2006 that a deal to buy Pixar was announced by Disney. Despite its seeming hesitation to buy Pixar, Disney have proved it was the right decision with the release of multiple more hit films.
11. The ending of Finding Dory was changed because Blackfish
It seems Blackfish has managed to have the grueling impact it intended to and has changed public perception. The popular documentary explores the problems with keeping killer whales in captivity, and had managed to extend its influence out to even Pixar. After Blackfish made whale captivity a beyond controversial topic, Pixar decided that it would be better to be more socially responsible and edited the ending to Finding Dory appropriately.
The initial ending allegedly left some whale characters still in captivity, and there was concern that it would be taken as supporting whale captivity or encouraging it. After the release of Blackfish, being seen to side with Sea World would have caused a stir among fans and Pixar wanted to avoid any controversy. To fix its dilemma, Pixar left a more open ending for the whale characters in Finding Dory, who got to decide for themselves between a life of captivity or a life in the ocean. The new ending went over well, and audiences have been having a whale of a time watching the new Pixar hit. While it might not be the bold political statement that Blackfish was, it was definitely a smart move on Pixar’s part and saved them from a load of backlash.
10. There is a secret speakeasy in the Pixar studios
In his memoir, Steve Jobs revealed that the Pixar studios had a secret speakeasy in where certain employees and celebrities would hang out, with their autographs collected on the wall. The speakeasy was known as The Love Lounge and was accessed by crawling through a vent. Unfortunately due to times changing and offices being moved around, The Love Lounge is apparently no more (but who’s to say they aren’t just making it secret again).
But while The Love Lounge is allegedly history, the speakeasy they now have is every bit as awesome as the original. It is called the Lucky 7 room and, despite being posted about online, still remains unknown to most people. To access the speakeasy you’re required to lift up a statue head and press a button, which moves a book case to lead you to the secret den. So if you’re ever in the Pixar studios, make sure to keep your eyes out for it. We’re not surprised that Pixar thought up something this cool. It really does sound like something straight out of a Pixar movie.
9. Lightning McQueen was named after a Pixar employee
Lightning McQueen raced onto our screens in 2006 with the release of Cars and instantly became a part of the Pixar legacy. It is often assumed that the race car got his surname “McQueen” from racing legend Steve McQueen and given the film is all about racing it’s a fair assumption to make. However an interesting piece of Pixar trivia clarifies that he was not named after the famous racer, but his name was a tribute to a former Pixar animator.
The former animator was Glenn McQueen, who was a much loved part of the Pixar team, but sadly passed away after a battle with skin cancer in 2002. Wanting his legacy to live on within Pixar, the filmmakers decided to pay homage to her by naming one of their main characters after her. It is an incredibly sweet fact, and really portrays Pixar as the respectable family film company we know and love.
8. Pixar used to make commercials.
Before Pixar was the mega-giant film company it is now, the team set their sights on more humble projects than their current line up of blockbuster feature length films. Way back in the days when Pixar was still in its infancy, it was in a tricky position. The animators were keen to produce a fully computer animated movie but needed to get themselves the high budget required. The answer came in the form of television commercials.
Pixar had already been approached by big brands about creating advertisements for them and decided to make the most of the opportunity to bring in some money and refine the animators’ skills. Throughout the 1990s Pixar made a handful of successful computer animated TV commercials for brands such as Trident, Tropicana, and several campaigns for Listerine. And that’s just to name a few of the brands, as Pixar had everything from car companies to lottery companies paying for commercials. Eventually, it all paid off when Pixar got to produce Toy Story alongside Disney and its success allowed the company to focus on producing films.
7. Animators of Finding Nemo took graduate classes in ichthyology
Pixar was determined from the start to make sure Finding Nemo achieved the global success and didn’t want to let a single detail get in the way of that. In order to help the film be as perfect as possible the company got its animators to take a graduate level class in ichthyology. Believe it or not, “ichthyology” is not just a random combination of letters, but the word for the scientific study of fish. Yes that’s right, Pixar sent all its animators back to school to help the Finding Nemo animation to be more accurate and true to life. It seems though that they may have missed a fairly important lesson, as none of them seemed to realise that fish can’t talk.
For a children’s animated film on talking fish it may seem a bit extreme to send the animators on an intensive science course, but it seems there may have been method to the madness. It not only allowed animators to have much more in depth knowledge and context for what they had to create, but allowed them to better understand the appearances and movements of fish and their environment. This all contributed to Finding Nemo being the beautifully animated movie masterpiece that we all fell in love with, and for that we are grateful.
6. The idea for 4 Pixar films all came from one lunch
Pixar films are known for being innovative and quirky, so it may not surprise you that a handful of its best titles came from the same minds brainstorming together. What may surprise you is that in the space of a single hour-long lunch these minds came up with the ideas of four separate Pixar blockbusters – talk about brain food! Waiter, I’ll have what they’re having!
The geniuses at hand were none other than John Lasseter and his chief creative staff, who chatted away over the magical meal and furiously scribbled what they came up with onto napkins. The movies weren’t all made swiftly, but the ideas were kept and eventually all four movies were made. The movies in question were A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo and WALL-E– arguably some of the best Pixar films to date. Let’s just hope they have more lunches together to keep the Pixar magic coming.
5. Inside Out was the reason Newt was cancelled.
Have you ever wondered where great ideas come from? In this case, not the little people in your head – but the little people in Pete Docter’s head. Docter presented the idea for Inside Out when Pixar approached him about directing a project for the company. Pixar liked it so much that the idea took off running. However, with the birth of this Pixar movie came the death of a potential film that had been struggling to get off the ground for a long time. The film in question was to be called Newt, and seemed to have a run of bad luck that constantly stopped it from ever coming to life.
Newt first faced trouble with the release of Rio from rival company Fox Animation Studios. The film had the same basic plot as Newt, but with a change of species. Newt was then put on hold until they decided to give it another go, but with a slight makeover. With a new plot ready to set it into action, it looked like Pixar was ready to work it magic. And who better to direct this new movie than Pete Docter? Well, although he was a great choice for Pixar, he lead to the complete scrapping of Newt when he pitched them Inside Out instead. It seems Newt was just not meant to be.
Inside Out had a much greater success in getting off the ground, but even that needed tweaking. The five fun feelings we see in the movie are the result of some major cutting back, as there were originally going to be 27 emotions in the film. Deciding this would be not only excessive but confusing for the audience, Pixar scaled things back and made the film achieve a glory that the prematurely dead Newt was never destined for.
4. Disney intended to replace Pixar with Circle 7 Animation.
Two years before Disney bought into Pixar, it had set about replacing its dependency on Pixar with internal division Circle 7 Animation. Disney initially created it for the purpose of creating sequels to Disney-owned Pixar properties, and intended to create sequels to Toy Story, Monsters Inc, and Finding Nemo. The company was set up in 2004 before Disney owned Pixar, but by that point they had already had a string of hit films together.
The company never made it off the ground and after two years was deceased and Pixar was merged into Disney instead. Many of the staff from Circle 7 Animation received jobs in either Pixar or other Disney studios shortly after, but other than that little remains of the Circle 7 Animation legacy. It produced none of the sequels it was intended to, and when Pixar produced them instead none of Circle 7’s scripts were used. It seems that you just can’t get any better than Pixar, and that it is indeed a force to be reckoned with.
3. Toy Story 2 Was Remade
Toy Story 2 was Pixar’s first attempt at a sequel and third feature length film. At this point, Pixar had a strong reputation but still could not afford to release a bad film – especially one that would damage the legacy of its first film. With this in mind, Pixar worked hard to produce Toy Story 2 to the same standards as its predecessors. However the sequel was initially in the hands of Disney, and was intended to be direct-to-home release.
Disney had been known at this point for having lower quality of animation in its sequels but felt that this one was worthy of the big screen. Disney decided to stretch it to a cinema release, and got Pixar involved in helping to do so. At this point though, Pixar decided it was not happy with the product and instead opted to remake the film rather than lower its standards. Despite being advised not to overwork, many Pixar animators worked long hours to get the film finished in time and developed carpal tunnel syndrome. One animator even forgot to drop his child off at school and left them in the car all day. Despite all the difficulty and stress, their hard work paid off and Toy Story 2 proved to be the perfect sequel.
2. There Is a Pixar Universe Theory
Pixar films cover an incredibly broad scope and vary greatly in everything from story, time period and species. Pixar has released films about everything including monsters, robots, toys, cars, ants and dinosaurs – oh and occasionally people. Their time periods vary greatly too, from the days of the dinosaurs to the days where Earth is void of life. Their grip on reality itself varies greatly too, with the likes of talking toys and rats who cook in restaurants. So with all this going on in Pixar films, is it really possible for it to all happen in the same universe? According to one fan theory, it most certainly is.
Although the theory was created before some of Pixar’s latest releases, it included all the films from when it was originally suggested and puts them in a timeline explaining links between the films. It explains that in the Pixar universe, animals can sometimes talk or behave like humans if they descended from the animals that had been experimented on by the witch in Brave. It goes on to explain the nature of certain technology, creatures, and sentient objects in the universe and their relationship with people. It suggests that eventually humans evolve into or are taken over by the monsters of Monsters Inc that travel back in time to scare kids for energy. The biggest twist of the theory brings the timeline full circle by explaining that Boo ends up becoming the witch from Brave when trying to work out time travel to find Sully. All that maybe confusing enough, but there are still mysteries left to be solved when it comes to certain Pixar Easter eggs. For instance, what is with the code A113 and the Pizza Planet Truck in nearly every film?
1. Pixar Is Already Set To Release 4 More Films
This is possibly the coolest fact you’ll ever read about Pixar, and primarily because it promises a whole lot more of the movies we love coming to screens soon. Pixar has set itself up to continue dominating the big screen by planning to release at least one feature length blockbuster every year until 2019. The upcoming projects are set to delight audiences with the return of some familiar faces, as well as the introduction of a completely new story. The new story set for release is Coco, which has already excited many with its promise to explore the Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos . But if Coco doesn’t sound like it’ll float your boat, then try some of the newly promised sequels on for size.
Although the scheduled release of Cars 3 in 2017 is probably not much to get excited for, considering that Cars 2 received lukewarm reviews, to say the least, there are other films coming that audiences have been eagerly awaiting. Perhaps the most exciting of these is The Incredibles 2, the long awaited (very long awaited) sequel to Pixar’s superhero extravaganza that was The Incredibles. It is probably the most highly anticipated Pixar sequel of all time, and promises everything we could ask for – but no capes!
Also on the list is Toy Story 4, the announcement of which received a mixed response. While on one hand every Toy Story film has delivered an excellence that has only strengthened its legacy, on the other hand, Toy Story 3 was a beautiful ending to a potentially perfect franchise. We can only hope Toy Story 4 continues its predecessors’ tradition of making us laugh, cry and sing along to its catchy soundtrack.
Do you know any cool Pixar facts we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments.