Sunday, March 30, 2008

Harrison Ford to voice 'Up' character? [2 UPDATES]

A Wikipedia entry written several hours ago claims that actor Harrison Ford will be lending his voice to Pixar's upcoming film, Up.

Now, I love Wikipedia (over 2000 edits!), but I'm not buying this story until I get some more concrete evidence, like a listing on IMDb (or IMDb Pro). I will, however, be making some phone calls tomorrow morning...

Thanks to reader Phil H. for the tip.
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Update: Up's Wikipedia page has now been edited to list comedian Robin Williams as working on the film. This story is becoming less believable by the hour...

(Updated at 11:06 PM)
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Update: Couldn't get through to any publicists. Apparently, they're not too keen on talking to bloggers... The more I think about this story, the more completely bogus it sounds.

(Updated Mar. 31)

First WALL-E TV spot

Watch it here. (I tried embedding; didn't work very well.)

My take: Although I enjoyed the spot, and think it's quite well done, I would have preferred to see an advert focusing on the more spectacular aspects of the film, rather than the "comedy".

There is good reason for the focus on the lighthearted elements of the film, though. As with last month's Super Bowl spot, Pixar is trying to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. And that's a good thing.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Hollywood fears recession impact

Could the likely financial recession (or, perhaps, depression) affect Disney's (and every other film company's) finances and release schedules in the future? That's one question posed by Hollywood trade publication Variety in a new article published today.

This is of interest to Pixar enthusiasts because, if that turns out to be the case, we could see Pixar's budgets reduced, among other possible negative impacts.

Would not be good news...

(Note: Disney and specifically Pixar are mainly discussed under the heading "slate financing". Not for the uninitiated.)

Ed Catmull gives university speech

Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull spoke today at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, giving a speech entitled "What Goes Wrong Behind Blockbuster Movies".

He went on to recount the well-known story of how Pixar started over production of Toy Story 2 only nine months before the film was to be released. "We just had an idea that was a good idea and we put a team on it and they screwed it up; they couldn't do it," he said. "[Then] we put a great team on it and they fixed it."

He also told of the suggestion at the time by Disney corporate that Toy Story 2 should have been produced as a lower quality direct-to-video film. Direct-to-video? What an outrage!

Read the full story here.
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You know what I think? Pixar should bring the scrapped version of TS2 out of the "vault" (if it still exists), and release it (nearly) as is for the educational and collector markets. Good idea, or not? You tell me.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ed Catmull to speak at SIGGRAPH 2008

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) announced today in a press release that Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull will be a featured speaker at SIGGRAPH 2008, the computer graphics and "interactive techniques" conference and exhibition.

Dr. Catmull, who currently serves as President of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, is well known for his achievements in the computer imaging and graphics industry, being one of the original designers of Pixar's RenderMan software, among other things.

SIGGRAPH 2008 will be held in Los Angeles, California from August 11 to 15.

Read the press release here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

'1906' details emerge

Peter Sciretta of /Film reports that an insider has told him that Pixar is "busy" building scale models for Brad Bird's upcoming live-action feature 1906, which will be produced by Pixar in association with Warner Bros. and Walt Disney Pictures.

(As a side note: A PR person at Warner Bros. recently confirmed for me that WB will be distributing, not Walt Disney Pictures.)

According to the post, the film, which is rumored to be slated for a winter 2009 release, will apparently re-create San Francisco circa 1906, using computer imaging based on period photographs.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Finding Nemo Blu-ray delayed until 2009

Pixar's Finding Nemo will be released on the high-definition Blu-ray disc format sometime in 2009 (presumably spring) not this coming fall, as had been previously expected, according to the website Blu-ray.com.

Also of note, Disney/Pixar will be releasing WALL-E on Blu-ray this fall, at the same time as the DVD release. Simultaneously, another one of Pixar's films will be released in the format; which one is not yet known.

On this last point, it can't be Toy Story or Toy Story 2. Both films will be given theatrical re-releases (in 3-D presentation) in 2009 and 2010, respectively. A Blu-ray release would make no financial or marketing sense. So that leaves only A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., and The Incredibles as release candidates. I suspect it'll be The Incredibles. You?

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Update: No such release for 2008 with WALL-E. See here.

(Updated Nov. 4)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

WALL-E concept art on display

/Film reports on the new pieces of concept art from WALL-E that have made their way onto Flickr. The images are being displayed as part of the Pixar: 20 Years of Animation exhibit, which is now showing in Finland.

I actually saw the pics this morning but wasn't sure of their source, so I opted not to post until more details became available.

Let me just say that if these images are any indicator, the $40 bucks I paid to pre-order The Art of WALL-E will be well worth it!

Some humour...

Disney aficionado Jim Hill has pointed out a funny in-joke contained in Pixar's Ratatouille.

Remember the scene with the (somewhat crazy) old lady who shoots at Remy and Emile with her hunting rifle? Well, if you look closely at the box of shells she grabs you'll see (as shown above) that the shells have the brand of R.B. Cheny, which happen to be U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's initials and surname, though the last name is intentionally misspelled. Cheney, of course, is known for having accidentally shot his hunting buddy thinking it was a quail.

As you'd expect, lawyers came in and tried to stifle the fun a bit. Hill reports that attorneys at Disney corporate demanded the misspelling of the surname to avoid any legal problems. I'm not a lawyer, but I can tell you that there is no way anybody could ever get sued over something like this. It's clearly parody, which is protected under law.

WALL-E: The Intergalactic Guide

I've been wanting to post on this for a while, but thought it'd be best to wait until I had a cover to show...

Book publisher Dorling Kindersley (DK), best known for its illustrated reference books, will be publishing WALL-E: The Intergalactic Guide, a children's book based –obviously– on Pixar's WALL-E. It will be released on May 19, and will retail in the U.S. for $12.99.

The 48-page book, designed for 8 to 12 year olds, is described on the DK website as an "essential guide to background info and extra glimpses into Wall-E’s life on the trash-cluttered Earth".

You can pre-order it here, at Amazon.com.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

WALL-E animation mostly done

I have no idea whether this is accurate or not, but the fxphd blog is claiming that major animation has wrapped on WALL-E, and that the crew is now working on re-takes and the like.

According to the report, Pixar will be throwing a party on Sunday, June 1st in San Francisco to celebrate the film's completion.

Death of Justin Wright

Some incredibly sad news here: Upcoming Pixar reports on the death of Pixar artist Justin Wright, who worked for over a year at the story department. Wright, who is credited as having worked on the end titles to Ratatouille (pictured), died Tuesday night due to heart troubles, according to a post on Pixar story supervisor Ronnie del Carmen's blog. He was 27.

For more on Wright, see his college profile here.

Sad news indeed...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Inside Toy Story Mania!

Another day, another Toy Story Mania! story...

The Daily Travel & Deal blog at the Los Angeles Times website has a special "sneak peek" of the attraction, which, as reported yesterday, will open starting in May.

Read it here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Toy Story Mania! opens this May

Theme Park Rangers (an Orlando Sentinel blog) is reporting that the Toy Story Mania! attraction, based, of course, on the characters of Pixar's Toy Story, will be opening late this May at the Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park in Walt Disney World in Florida.

The Disney's California Adventure version will open about a month later, in late June.

For more on Toy Story Mania!, see here and here.

Theme Park Rangers also reports that Toy Story: The Musical (rehearsal pictured above) will premiere this Thursday, March 20, not April 10 as previously reported.

WALL-E international trailer online again

The international theatrical trailer for WALL-E is now at disney.co.uk/movies. This is the trailer that was seen online prematurely last month, and was subsequently removed. It is also now available in several different languages at the various Disney international sites.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I like this trailer better than the "domestic" one that was released last week. Although it's shorter and contains less footage from the film, it has a much more epic feel.

This John Carter of Mars stuff puzzles me

Jim Hill of Jim Hill Media has published some new information regarding the John Carter of Mars trilogy of films that Pixar is rumoured to be producing.

Frankly, this rumour confuses me. Pixar has always been about original storytelling and brilliant animation. First 1906 (which I am excited about), and now this. Makes you wonder...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

First 'Up' cast member listed on IMDb Pro

Early yesterday, I posted regarding actor Paul Eiding's role in WALL-E, as listed on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Well, IMDb Pro (that's the pricey industry version of IMDb) has now listed Eiding as part of the cast of Pixar's Up, (due to be released in theatres in 2009) making him the first actor to be so listed.

As with WALL-E, Eiding will be providing "additional voices".

Link (IMDb Pro subscribers only)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Toy Story Mania! video preview

Check out this video preview of Disney's upcoming theme park attraction Toy Story Mania!.

From MSNBC.com, via The Disney Blog.

Disney worried about WALL-E controversy?

The drumbeat of controversy seems to be getting louder over Pixar's WALL-E, and now Disney corporate is said to be concerned, according to an article published online today by writer Jim Hill.

Disney PR is said to be worried over the movie's portrayal of the humans of the future as fat blobs who, through their rampant consumption, ruin the earth. The concern is that the film will be seen by some as a condemnation of capitalism, American culture, and fat people. (Really? I thought it was a movie about a cute and lovable robot named WALL-E.) As a result, the more "serious" elements of the film have been downplayed in the trailers.

Personally, I do think Disney has some reason to be nervous, but not too much. Something similar has happened before. Remember Happy Feet, and the minor controversy that followed its release? (If not, watch the video posted below.)

There could well be some publicised controversy surrounding WALL-E, but I suspect that any such silliness would be limited to the United States (and particularly Fox News), and would not hurt the film at the box office whatsoever.

As with most things, though, I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

video

Folks, it's a movie. About a robot. Who falls in love with another robot. Who lives in space. Get a grip, people! Get a grip!

IMDb lists new WALL-E cast member

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is now listing actor Paul Eiding as providing additional voices for WALL-E.

Eiding has previously done voice work for every Pixar feature, except the Toy Story films, The Incredibles, and Ratatouille.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

New opportunities at Pixar

Pixar is looking to fill three new artistic positions at its studios in Emeryville, California.

They are:
Art Director
Character Designer
Sketch Artist


Check out the job postings here.

'1906' to be Disney/Pixar/Warner Bros. collaboration

An article out today in the trade publication The Hollywood Reporter explains (sort of) the production structure of Brad Bird's upcoming live-action film, 1906.

The film, which will be based on the novel by James Dalessandro, which centers on the story of a college student investigating the murder of his father around the time of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, will be a co-production between Warner Bros. and Pixar. John Walker, who produced The Incredibles, will serve as executive producer.

The article refers to Pixar as Disney/Pixar, leaving me (and others) wondering as to what Walt Disney Pictures' role will be in the film. Among many other questions that still remain.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bob Iger discusses Pixar

Disney chief executive Robert Iger talked quite a bit about Pixar during a question and answer session held today as part of the McGraw-Hill Companies' 2008 Media Summit in New York City.

When asked about the Walt Disney Company's $7.4 billion acquisition of Pixar in 2006, and whether it was the smart thing to do financially, he responded by saying, in part, "No, we didn't overpay... Purchasing Pixar, even at that price, was the right thing for us to do, at that point, strategically… The talent that exists at Pixar is incredibly rich.”

Continuing his response, he joked, “Actually in more ways than one, thanks to the acquisition. Those lucky fellows.” And, he said, “As a CEO, I sleep better knowing that that talent is at the company.”

Listen to entire Q&A here, at the The Hollywood Reporter.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

WALL-E theatrical trailer premieres online

Another spectacular full-length theatrical trailer for WALL-E is now available for viewing online, at Apple Trailers and the official WALL-E site.

This is the same trailer that will be released in theatres this Friday with Blue Sky Studios' film adaptation of Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears A Who!.

As expected, this trailer is similar to the first full-length trailer we saw at the beginning of February, only this one is intended for a “domestic” (i.e. American) audience, rather than an international one.

Although this trailer features way more footage of WALL-E and EVE, and introduces some of the other robots, I think I enjoyed the international trailer (which has yet to be released officially online) just a touch more. The soundtrack, I guess.

Brad Lewis: Auto racer

Ratatouille producer Brad Lewis can now cross "drive a race car" off his to-do list. Well, not really a race car. More like a Toyota Scion.

Anyways...

Lewis, who is currently directing a yet-to-be-announced (i.e. secret) project at Pixar, will be taking part in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race for charity on April 19th in Long Beach, California.

Go, Brad, go!

New WALL-E trailer online tonight

ComingSoon.net reports that the first domestic theatrical trailer for Pixar's WALL-E will hit both Disney.com and Apple Trailers at around 8 PM PT/11 PM ET tonight.

Stay tuned...

Food Network to re-air "Pixar Movie Mission"

The Food Network is re-airing the "Pixar Movie Mission" episode of the cooking series Dinner: Impossible. (The episode was originally aired at the beginning of November of last year.)

In the show, chef Robert Irvine (who was recently revealed to have included some less-than-honest statements in his résumé) visits Pixar's studios in Emeryville, California, and cooks up a storm for the hundreds of artists, animators, and staff members working there.

Air times:
U.S. / Canada
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Talking about the Food Network... Am I the only one who would be thrilled to see a Ratatouille-themed cooking show? Call it "Cooking with Remy". Add in a few great recipes, some classy French-sounding music, and you've got a show! Seriously. I mean, who wouldn't watch?

(Realistically, though, it would be quite a challenge for Pixar, from a technical and logistical standpoint. Having to model new food for every episode, then record the voice work, animate the show, etc. It would be pretty tough...)

Monday, March 10, 2008

'Up' to be released in 3-D

This is breaking news: Disney is said to have announced at the ShoWest film industry convention that Pixar's Up, which will hit theatres in 2009, will be released in the Disney Digital 3-D format. (Of course, 3-D releases are also shown in regular 2-D in theatres with no 3-D capability.)

It seems that Disney and Pixar have really fallen in love with the technology. More to come...

(via ComingSoon.net)

Friday, March 7, 2008

WALL-E video game cover

The cover art for the WALL-E video game (published by game developer THQ) has finally made its way online.

For availability info, see here.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Toy Story musical premieres April 10

Variety reports a date for the first public performance of Toy Story: The Musical –April 10, 2008.

The show will, of course, be taking place aboard the Disney Cruise Line ship Disney Wonder, and will begin when the ship docks at Port Canaveral, Florida.

For a refresher on Toy Story: The Musical, see here.

Ratatouille 2? No. Nothing yet. Perhaps.

At today's annual meeting of Disney shareholders in Albuquerque, a kid got up and asked a question about a possible sequel to Pixar's Ratatouille. The response? "No decisions have been made" on a possible Ratatouille 2, but "one never knows".

As a consolation prize of sorts, John E. Pepper, Chairman of the Board at Disney, offered to send the kid a Remy toy. He's got a whole lot of them at home, he said. (It was pretty funny.)

So, Disney and Pixar are leaving the door (slightly) open for a sequel to 'Rat'. Not really news, but interesting...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Disney shareholders’ meeting tomorrow

The Walt Disney Company is holding its annual meeting of shareholders tomorrow in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A live audio webcast of the event will be available at the Disney investor relations page, starting at 9:00 a.m. PST/12:00 p.m. EST. (A re-play will be accessible until March 20.)

I will be listening in on the webcast, and will keep you informed if any developments related to Pixar arise.

Jobs left Pixar board in dark about cancer

A new report out today in Fortune magazine about Apple Inc. CEO and Pixar co-founder Steve Jobs claims that Jobs hid the fact that he had been diagnosed with a rare treatable form of pancreatic cancer from everyone at the then-independent Pixar, including the board of directors, until after he had the required surgery. (This happened in 2003 and 2004.)

Apple's board, on the other hand, was informed and spent months distressed over the situation, including whether or not they were obligated to share the news with shareholders. Jobs is said to have waited an astonishing nine months before seeking mainstream medical treatment, which was successful in treating the disease.

The 4-page story, written by Peter Elkind, editor at large at Fortune magazine, also discusses the stock option troubles at Apple and Pixar, which are still being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The story can be found online here, at CNN Money.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Pixar granted four patents since January

A search of the U.S. Patent Collection Database reveals that Pixar has been awarded four patents by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) since the year began.

The patents, which were applied for between 2004 and 2005, are for quite obscure computer animation-related inventions, such as something termed "rig baking", the drawing of which is pictured above.


One of the patents lists a Philip Bradley Bird as an inventor. I wonder who that is. Never heard of the guy.

Here's the list:

Disney "most admired" entertainment company

Quick story here: According to new rankings published by Fortune magazine, The Walt Disney Company, Pixar's corporate parent since 2006, is America's most admired entertainment company.

I'm pretty sure Pixar had something to do with that...

(via The Disney Blog)

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company

Early last month, I wrote a post on the upcoming book by Leander Kahney, Inside Steve’s Brain, which will deal with Pixar co-founder Steve Jobs. Today I’m profiling (shortly) another very exciting Pixar-related book, this one entitled The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company, written by David A. Price.

The Pixar Touch will examine in detail Pixar’s history (including the not-so-bright sides, such as the feuding), Pixar’s people (Ed Catmull, John Lasseter, and again, Steve Jobs), and of course, what makes Pixar work as a company.

The book will be published in hardcover by Knopf (an imprint of Random House), and is available for pre-order from Amazon.com for $18.45 USD. The book will go on sale May 13.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Will 'Up' be a tear-jerker? [UPDATE]

Upcoming Pixar is reporting on a rather unusually-sourced Pixar rumor.

An entry on –get this– a high school reunion web page states the following:

“Met my husband at Pixar (who is now producing a 2009 film called "UP"-get your tissues out!)”

So does this mean that Pixar’s Up will be a really sad, sentimental story? It sure seams that way from the above quote. And what’s with the ALL CAPS spelling of Up? Makes you wonder.

Just a little background: The entry was written by Michele Rivera (née Spane), who is credited on The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) for her work on creative resources and publicity for Finding Nemo. According to her entry on the reunion site, she has also worked at Pixar’s consumer products division for Monsters, Inc., The Incredibles, and Ratatouille.

Sure is an interesting rumor...

(Note: The entry in question is near the top of page 5 on the reunion site.)
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Update: The text of the entry has been removed from the site. The plot thickens...
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Update: I've been able to find some info on the husband of the person who wrote the post. His name is Jonas Rivera, and he's worked at Pixar in different roles since Toy Story. IMDb Pro does indeed list him as producer on Up.

That's about it for now. I will keep you posted if any new details emerge...

(Updated Mar. 2)