Friday, February 29, 2008

Pixar looking for animator

According to a new job posting on pixar.com, Pixar is looking to fill an animator position at its Emeryville, California studios.

It occurred to me that whoever gets hired from this will get a chance to work on Toy Story 3, and probably Up as well. That is so cool.

Hey is it just me, or is that the sound of all the talented animators at DreamWorks frantically typing their resumes? :)

Next WALL-E trailer coming March 14

About an hour ago, I spoke with someone from Pixar’s press department who was able to tell me that a new trailer for WALL-E will be shown before Blue Sky Studios’ Horton Hears A Who! on March 14.*

The person I spoke to said that the trailer would be “similar” to the one that made it’s way online (for a while) at the beginning of the month, only this will be a “domestic” not international trailer. I'm guessing that means there will probably be just a few changes, like a different voice over, perhaps. She said that the trailer would be available online around the time of it’s theatrical release.

The purpose of my call was actually to ask about the WALL-E clips shown last Saturday at WonderCon by Andrew Stanton. These, she said, would most likely not be made available online for now, if it all.

*So I guess I was wrong about March 7 being the release date for the first theatrical trailer. It happens.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pixar at the 80th Oscars

The event we've all been waiting for is finally here: The 80th Annual Academy Awards.

Today promises to be a big day for Pixar, with Ratatouille nominated in five categories:
  • Best Original Screenplay
  • Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
  • Achievement in Music (Original Score)
  • Achievement in Sound Editing
  • Achievement in Sound Mixing

I will be posting all the latest news and information right on this page, as it happens, so check back often. Oscar headlines will be posted below.
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Celebrities are arriving at the Kodak Theatre. Keeping an eye out for Brad Bird and the crew...

(6:34 PM)
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The show has begun!

(8:30 PM)
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Ratatouille wins Best Animated Feature Oscar

Ratatouille has won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year. This is Pixar’s fifth nomination and third win in this category. Brad Bird began his acceptance speech by saying humorously "I think I'm going to throw up, too", an obvious reference to Linguini's experience in the movie.

Love it!

(8:55 PM)
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Well, that's about it folks. All the categories in which Ratatouille was nominated have been announced.

'Rat' picked up only one award, as reported above. I can't say that I'm not a little disappointed about that, but, hey, it was still a whole lot of fun!

Congratulations to Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Lewis, Michael Giacchino, and everyone else at Pixar who assisted in the production of Ratatouille.

(11:40 PM)

Giacchino 'so glad' to be nominated for Oscar

In an interview with the Courier-Post (a local New Jersey newspaper), Ratatouille composer Michael Giacchino talks about his Oscar nomination, his career in music, and more.

Read it here.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

New WALL-E clips shown at WonderCon

WALL-E director Andrew Stanton was at WonderCon today premiering four (!) new clips from the movie. The clips are not yet available online, but we should be seeing them sometime soon.

Several sites describe the clips as follows:

Clip #1: WALL-E powers up after a solar charge. He gathers stuff in his Buy N Large-branded cooler. While leaving his home, he almost runs over his pet cockroach. He compounds some trash, then examines and collects more human artifacts, including a bra, a boot and a fire extinguisher. (We've seen a bit of this footage before.)

Clip #2: WALL-E meets EVE and immediately falls in love. He shows her around his home. He teaches her the fun of popping bubble wrap. (EVE pops all the bubbles really quickly...) WALL-E plays a VHS tape of an old musical. He begins dancing, EVE tries but accidentally throws WALL-E against the wall. (Again, we've seen some of this before.)

Clip #3: WALL-E tries to stow away aboard EVE's spaceship, but the ship takes off before he can get inside. He nearly falls off, but manages to hang on. The spaceship goes by the moon, which now has a billboard on it, then past Saturn, where WALL-E is amazed by the rings. Finally, the ship reaches the Axiom, the station where EVE is based.

Clip #4: EVE is annoyed by WALL-E, who keeps trying to impress her. She sends him home in a pod. As it turns out, the pod is set to self-destruct. EVE then feels sad. WALL-E, though, escapes and makes his way back to EVE.

During the presentation, Stanton revealed that Pixar regular John Ratzenberger will be playing a character named John. Ha.

Also, there is the possibility that WALL-E could be released in Disney Digital 3-D, although, he said, “We’re not planning for 3-D, but you never know. It can always be done in the post-[production] process."

'Rat' producer Lewis ready for the red carpet

The San Jose Mercury News has published a front-page story about Ratatouille producer Brad Lewis, and his excitement about being at tomorrow's Oscars, where 'Rat' is nominated five times.

"He's like a little kid," says a colleague from the city (as you may already know, Lewis is also the mayor of San Carlos, California).

This would be Lewis' first time attending the event. Still, contrary to popular belief, he would not be allowed on stage, even if Ratatouille recieves any of the big prizes. Academy rules allow producers on stage only in the case of a Best Picture win.

That doesn't mean he won't be dressed for sucess, though. He'll be wearing a tux –"The same one I got married in," he says.

Read the story here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

'Ratatouille', based on a true story...

This is a bit off-topic, but check out this article from the Toronto Star. It's about rats. In a restaurant. Enough said.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

WSJ reveals Toy Story 3 plot? [UPDATE]

A new Wall Street Journal article dealing with the film industry's changing relationship with video game makers appears to reveal the storyline for Pixar's upcoming Toy Story 3.

The article begins:

"In Pixar's coming movie "Toy Story 3," Woody the cowboy and his toy-box friends are dumped in a day-care center after their owner, Andy, leaves for college."

So is this a case of the Journal getting some inside information, or is it just the reporters on the story reprinting a rumor in a serious context? I guess we'll have to wait to find out...
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Update: I have just received an email response from reporter Merissa Marr who co-wrote the story for the WSJ. Earlier, I asked her how the information was sourced and what made her and her co-writer confident enough that the plot will be as described in the article.

She tells me: "As I'm sure you can understand, I can't reveal our sources, in keeping with Journal guidelines. Needless to say, though, we would not have printed the information unless we were confident of its accuracy."

So, it seems that the story is pretty solid. But of course, we'll still have to wait, as always, for official plot information from either Disney or Pixar before we can know for sure.

(Update at 5:56 PM)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Think you know Brad Bird? Think again.

The Los Angeles Times has published a new profile of Ratatouille writer and director Brad Bird.

As it turns out, the man essentially started his career in animation at age three. (Sure explains a lot...) Be sure to check out the part about his less-than-encouraging junior high school guidance counselor.

Read it here.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Welcome to Pixar...

Empire Magazine Online has a new exclusive (and very cool) guided video tour of Pixar's Emeryville headquarters. A must-see.

Watch it here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The STRIKE is OVER!

The Writers Guild of America strike, which threatened to cancel or boycott this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, has officially ended. Over 92% of the writers voted on Tuesday to end the strike. The Oscars will thus be presented, as planned, on February 24. The show will go on!

This is of interest to fans of Pixar because Ratatouille is nominated five times at this year’s Academy Awards. Several members of the Ratatouille production team, including writer/director Brad Bird and producer Brad Lewis, had previously said that they would not attend the Oscar ceremony if it was to be picketed by the writers.

No need to worry about that anymore...

WALL-E video game available for pre-order [UPDATE]

The PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, and Nintendo DS versions of the highly-anticipated WALL-E video game are now available for pre-order from Amazon.com, ahead of game's release date of June 24, 2008.

The PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii versions are currently priced at $49.99, with the Nintendo DS priced at $29.99.
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Update: Several more versions of the game (including Windows PC, Xbox 360, Sony PSP, and PlayStation 2) have now been made available for pre-order, but are not currently listed in Amazon's main search results. Prices vary.

(Update at 8:04 PM)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Michael Giacchino wins Grammy

Composer Michael Giacchino won today the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media for his work on Ratatouille.

Congratulations to Mr. Giacchino!

Ratatouille wins at the BAFTAs

The awards just keep coming for Ratatouille. The film has just won in the Best Animated Feature Film category at this year's Orange British Academy Film Awards, which are presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

Win tickets to the world premiere of WALL-E

The Chicago Sun-Times is giving away two tickets to the world premiere of WALL-E, as part of it's "Outguess Roger Ebert" contest.

Included in the grand prize is round-trip airfare for two to Los Angeles, with hotel, and tickets to a special VIP "after-party" hosted by Walt Disney Pictures.

The contest is open only to residents of the United States.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Programmable WALL-E toy coming

Check out this picture uploaded yesterday to Flickr, and just found by Upcoming Pixar. It shows what appears to be a "programmable" remote-controled WALL-E toy robot, or perhaps a prototype of one.

I'm beginning to suspect that WALL-E will present an excellent merchandising opportunity for Disney and Pixar.

(Photo credit: Argyle/Flickr)

NYT discusses Toy Story Mania!

The New York Times has published a lengthy article regarding the history and development of the new Toy Story Mania! attractions currently under construction at Disney's California Adventure and Hollywood Studios theme parks.

A very interesting read...

Link

Your Friend the Rat wins Annie

Pixar's short Your Friend the Rat, which was released on the Ratatouille DVD, won yesterday the Annie Award for Best Animated Short Subject.

Quite a big day for Pixar!

Ratatouille wins big at the Annies

Pixar's Ratatouille was the big winner at yesterday's 35th Annual Annie Awards, which recognized the year's best achivements in animation.

'Rat' won 9 awards, including Best Animated Feature and Best Writing in an Animated Feature Production. The Ratatouille video game also picked up the award for Best Animated Video Game.

Once again, congratulations to everyone at Pixar who worked on the film!

Go here for a complete list of nominations and wins.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Brand-new WALL-E trailer now online [UPDATE]

The first full-length theatrical trailer for WALL-E has just been released online.

It's one of the best trailers I've seen in quite a long time. Very well edited, and has an amazing score.

I'd post more details, but go see for yourself! The only thing I'll say is, this movie is going to be huge.

See it here.
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Update: The new trailer has been removed from the Empire Online page at which it could previously be seen. A notice on the page now reads: "Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Wall-E trailer is no longer available. Sorr-E."

I guess they put the trailer up before they were allowed to. Oh well...

I will be updating this page if anything new happens (like a new place to find the trailer) so don't forget to bookmark!

(Update at 1:43 PM)
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Update: The trailer is now up at
YouTube. The quality is not very good, but at least it's better than having to wait! I will be posting links to better quality sources as soon as they become available.

(Update at 5:31 PM)
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Update: The trailer has been removed from YouTube "due to a copyright claim by Pixar". It can still be found here, at WorstPreviews.com.

(Updated Feb. 10)
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Update: The trailer has now been removed from WorstPreviews. A notice on the page reads, "Removed by Disney". We should be seeing the trailer officially released sometime in the next month.

(Updated Feb. 15)
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Update: Now available at Disney UK.

(Updated Mar. 17)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Just for fun...

(Click to enlarge.)

Remember those old Where's Waldo? books, where you had to find "Waldo" amid a crowd of thousands? Well, I've got something similar for you today.

Try to spot Ratatouille director Brad Bird in the above picture taken during Monday's Oscar nominees luncheon!

Hint: He's not too far from documentarian Michael Moore, who may be easier to spot...

(Photo credit: Todd Wawrychuk/©A.M.P.A.S.)

'Cars' sequel likely: Disney CEO Iger

Yesterday, in a post about Disney's quarterly financial results announcement, I wrote:

"During the earnings call, Disney President and CEO Bob Iger was particularly upbeat about Pixar's popular franchises, such as Toy Story and Cars."

Well, an article just posted at Forbes.com says there's more to that confidence than meets the eye, especially when it comes to Cars.

Disney, the article explains, is actively building the Cars franchise, and will continue to do so well into the next decade. This will include new merchandise, theme park attractions, et cetera. When it comes to attractions, it's "fairly certain you'll see more creativity and investment... [related to] that franchise.''

But the biggest news of all contained in the article is Iger's disclosure that it's "a relatively good bet that ultimately they'll be a sequel" to Cars.

Big news indeed...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pixar animator Mark Walsh talks to The Independent

A new article is up at The Independent in which animator Mark Walsh, who served as supervising animator on Ratatouille, talks about his career at Pixar and how he got started.

Walsh also talks about where the technologies used by Pixar are headed. He says: "Ratatouille is state of the art, but our next film, Wall-E, will be even better. Five years from now, Ratatouille will look as dated to us as Toy Story does now."

Wow.

And you won't believe it when you read where the original animations from Toy Story were being stored. Really, you won't.

Read it here.

Disney Q1 earnings announced

The Walt Disney Company, of which Pixar Animation Studios is now a wholly-owned subsidiary, revealed today its financial results [PDF] for the first quarter of fiscal 2008. The results were presented via a live webcast of the earnings call which began at 4:30 PM EST.

During the earnings call, Disney President and CEO Bob Iger was particularly upbeat about Pixar's popular franchises, such as Toy Story and Cars.

Good news for Disney shareholders (of which I am one), the stock has so far gained $1.58 per share or 5.25% in after hours trading.

Inside Steve's Brain

Leander Kahney, who wrote The Cult of Mac, has authored a new book entitled Inside Steve's Brain, which profiles Pixar co-founder and current Apple CEO and Disney board member Steve Jobs.

While the book, which is being billed as “an insider’s guide to the unique leadership style of Steve Jobs” will focus mostly on Jobs’ history at Apple, it will also touch on his role at Pixar, particularly his relationship with John Lasseter.

Inside Steve's Brain will be published by Portfolio, an imprint of the Penguin Group. It will hit shelves on April 17.

Monday, February 4, 2008

My thoughts on the WALL-E Super Bowl spot

Well, we finally got to see the WALL-E Super Bowl ad we had all been waiting for. I quite enjoyed it, although I was a bit disappointed not to see any new footage from the film. (But then again, how much could have fit in a 60-second spot? Not much.)

From some of the reactions I’ve read online, I think it’s safe to say that a few people were also bit disappointed, for other reasons. For example, Peter Sciretta of /Film wrote:

"I am probably the biggest supporter of this film, but it worries me terribly that Disney (or is it Pixar) seemingly has no faith on the concept to sell itself...

I’m getting the strong feeling that the company doesn’t have faith in the audience to understand the idea behind this latest Pixar story. Instead they are hoping to give the film (what the people in the industry call) “the rub” from the companies’ other films and personalities.”

I disagree with the above assessment. If anything, what we saw yesterday was part of a well thought out marketing strategy designed to make WALL-E appealing to as wide an audience as possible.

Yesterday’s ad was clearly aimed at younger viewers, and the much-loved characters from Toy Story help in establishing a connection with the audience. Buzz and Woody were a perfect fit. I certainly don’t see anything wrong with them being part of the spot. It’s an example of good marketing, not a lack of confidence in the film’s concept.

The ad was fun and effective. It may be that “professionals” can "see through" the strategy, but the target audience –kids, their parents, and animation fans in general– see the commercial at face value: Simple and enjoyable.

I think the spot also balanced well with the more “grown-up” marketing for WALL-E that we've seen, such as the Buy N Large viral site. Most of the jokes on the BnL site are not of the type that kids would ‘get’. They’re often complex and clearly aimed at an older demographic. Yesterday's ad was just the opposite. So we see balance, and balance is almost always a good thing.

Simply said, I don't believe there's any reason to worry. In fact, there are quite a number of reasons not to worry. Remember all the doubts about Finding Nemo and The Incredibles? Exactly.

So, that's my take on things. Leave your comments below. (Your opinion counts!)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Pixar turns 22

In all the excitement about today's new WALL-E Super Bowl ad (and you'll read my take on that tomorrow) I almost forgot that today marks Pixar's 22nd anniversary! That's right: Pixar was founded on February 3, 1986.

A (well deserved) round of applause is in order...

WALL-E official site redesigned

The official website for WALL-E has been given a major redesign. Previously there was nothing much on the page, only the teaser trailers we've gotten so far.

Now there are a bunch of options: Build-A-Robot, Games and Mash Up* (coming soon), Downloads (desktop wallpapers!), Gallery (very limited), Videos (including the new Super Bowl commercial), and About (quite self-explanatory).

Check it out.
*The "Mash Up" feature will apparently involve WALL-E squishing stuff!

Watch the WALL-E Super Bowl spot

The much-anticipated WALL-E Super Bowl commercial has finally aired and is now on the web!

See it here. You have to. Really.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

New WALL-E character/cast member listed on IMDb

A new WALL-E character and cast member has been listed on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). The character is called "Hover Chair Son" and is to be played by an American kid actor named Garrett Palmer.

If you can remember, a while back we learned of a character called "Hoverchair Mother"; they must be related or something. And as with "Hoverchair Mother", the role is not designated as being voice only.

I doubt they'll be major characters, though.

WALL-E discovers the vacuum

A new WALL-E-themed video has just been posted to Disney.com. It's WALL-E trying to operate a Buy N Large-branded vacuum cleaner.

So funny...

Update: Here's the link to the clip on YouTube. It's of surprisingly good quality.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Disney confirms WALL-E Super Bowl ad

In a press release today, Walt Disney Pictures has confirmed what has long been rumored: That they will indeed be airing a "special preview" of Pixar's WALL-E during this Sunday's Super Bowl.

(Check TV listings for local broadcast information.)

The spot will be made available for download online immediately after the game.

Make sure to check back here on Sunday!