Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New details on 'Ultimate WALL-E' [UPDATE]

Silicon Valley tech news website VentureBeat has new info on Disney Consumer Products' plans for WALL-E merchandising, including in-depth details regarding the 'Ultimate WALL-E' programmable toy robot we heard about awhile back. (Disney will reportedly be making an official announcement on their upcoming products tomorrow.)

About 'Ultimate WALL-E' we learn that the toy will be manufactured by Thinkway, and will retail for $189.99 USD. It will feature 10 motors for realistic movement, and also a "variety of sensors" to allow for voice activation, navigation, and detection of obstacles, among other capabilities.

Also included in the VentureBeat article is information on a previously unheard of product, the 'iDance WALL-E'. The 'iDance WALL-E' (a musical electronic dancing toy similar to the iDog) will sell for $24.99, and have a USB port for computer connectivity and an audio-in jack compatible with MP3 players and genuine iPods.

These sound like pretty cool products. Can't wait to find out more...
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Update: Here's the press release from Disney Consumer Products, officially announcing the "advanced" robotic toys.

In particular, a lot of new facts about 'Ultimate WALL-E' are presented, such as:

  • Was designed in "close collaboration" with Pixar animators
  • Ships with a remote control (used for programming)
  • Features an "innovative touch programming system"
  • Capable of "several emotional states" and "thousands of combinations" of movements
  • Has infrared, sonic, and touch sensors
  • MP3 compatible with built-in speakers
  • Will be sold starting this fall through ToysRUs and DisneyShopping.com

Here's the link to the news release again. I have the feeling this is going to be one of those products people start brawling over at the store...

(Updated April 30)
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Main Page

Title of WALL-E/Peter Gabriel single revealed

A product description added to the Amazon.com page for the WALL-E soundtrack includes the title of the Peter Gabriel single that will be part of the film. The song is called "Down to Earth", and will play during the end credits of the film (according to Variety).

Currently, no track listing has been made available for the soundtrack, which will be released on the storied Walt Disney Records label on June 24.

Third WALL-E vignette: WALL-E Meets a Hula Hoop

Yet another short clip starring WALL-E has been posted to Disney.com. This one features WALL-E discovering a Hula Hoop, to comic results.

A lot of fun to watch...

Monday, April 28, 2008

New WALL-E game trailer

Briefly: A short new preview of the upcoming WALL-E video game has shown up at TeamXbox.

Interestingly, at the end of the video a URL for the official site of the game is shown. The address, wallevideogame.com, however, is currently inactive.

Ex-Pixar CFO to be charged

The Securities and Exchange Commission of the United States (SEC) plans to recommend that Ann Mather, who served for five years as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Pixar prior to the merger with The Walt Disney Company, face civil charges for allegedly having violating U.S. securities laws in the course of her involvement with certain backdated stock option grants at the then independant company.

The news of the impeding legal action was revealed in documents released today by Google Inc., on whose board of directors Mather now sits.

It seems that this stock options backdating story –now nearly two years old– just won't go away...

SF streetcars advertise WALL-E

The ad blitz for Pixar's WALL-E seems to be getting under way, with WALL-E now being advertised (using wraps) on vehicles belonging to the San Francisco Municipal Railway (commonly known as Muni), as shown in the above picture taken today.

(Photo credit: Chris Pederick/Flickr)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Animatronic WALL-E robots coming to Disney parks

According to the theme park news website Screamscape, Disney* is currently building "mobile animatronic" versions of WALL-E which will be able to rove around Disney parks and presumably interact with guests.

The report claims that the first of these will be placed at Disney's Hollywood Studios (previously known as Disney-MGM Studios) theme park inside the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Also, either of the Disney parks which help form the Disneyland Resort in California will feature one as well.

The animatronic WALL-Es will be life-size, standing at about 3 feet tall.

Read the full story here.

*Disney Imagineering is the Walt Disney Company unit responsible for audio-animatronics projects.

Friday, April 25, 2008

WALL-E widget now available

Upcoming Pixar points today to the official Walt Disney Pictures website for WALL-E, which has been updated to include a new widget which can be embedded into blogs and such. Check it out...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Update on The Pixar Touch

Good news: My proof copy of The Pixar Touch arrived in the mail today. I'm just about to start reading it in it's proper order, so I can't say much yet, but it's looking very promising.

Has a lot of information I hadn't read or heard elsewhere previously. And quite a few pictures from Pixar's early days, also new to me.

Anyways, I will be writing a full review later on, once I finish reading the book in its entirety. So stay tuned for that.

One more thing: Folks, please, send in your questions for the author. I got only, like, three questions all day today, and just between you and me, they were pretty lame. So, please. You must have something to ask! :)

Giant Luxo lamp at night

Last week, I told you about the positively huge Luxo Jr. lamp that's been put on display outside Pixar HQ.

In my post, I unfortunately neglected to expain the fact that it's an actual working lamp, not just a model. (Lit, in fact, by 18 individual fluorescent bulbs, enclosed inside the enormous light bulb feature.)

I have thus decided to post this new photograph (courtesy of Craig from Pixar, who uploaded it to Flickr) which shows the 43ft tall lamp during the evening.

So cool...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Send in your Pixar-related questions!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked a bit about the upcoming book The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company, which will be in bookstores on May 13.

The book will, of course, deal with Pixar’s history, people, and structure –all the things that have made Pixar so successful. Also, the book will contain some new, never-before-heard accounts from Pixar’s history (like the (quite horrible) one about the baby left in the car during the rush to complete Toy Story 2).

The book’s author, David Price, has kindly agreed to allow me to interview him early next month. And he’s also taking questions from you!

Between now and next Wednesday, April 30, you can send your queries to pixarblogunofficial@yahoo.com (that’s the general correspondence address for this blog). I will be selecting the best questions and will send those over (with my own, via email) to Mr. Price, who’ll try to answer them for you.

All answered questions will be published as part of the Q&A on The Pixar Blog for all to see. (Please note that your email address will not be published.)

I hope everybody gets a chance to send in a question or two!

New cover for WALL-E video game

Amazon.com has just updated the product pages of the WALL-E video game (all platforms) to feature what will be the official release cover of the game, as shown here.

This new cover is very similar (but not identical) to the last theatrical poster released.

I'm totally on the fence as to whether or not it's better than the old cover we got last month...

Second WALL-E TV spot online

The second television advert for WALL-E that has been airing over the past few days has now made its way onto the Web. And here it is!



(via CanMag)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pixar website updated

Briefly: The homepage of Pixar's official website has finally been updated today to feature images from WALL-E, Pixar's ninth theatrical release.

This update ends months of neglect of the site by Pixar :)

'Pixar Story' coming soon to DVD: Iwerks

I just got off the phone with 'Pixar Story' director Leslie Iwerks. I asked her a couple of questions about the film, such as when it'll be released on DVD.

About that, she told me that the documentary should be included with a DVD box set of Pixar films that is due out as early as June. Also, it'll probably be on the WALL-E DVD this fall.

This not too surprising considering that one of her previous films, The Hand Behind the Mouse (which profiled her grandfather, Disney animator Ub Iwerks), has been bundled with previous Disney DVD releases.

Near the end of the call, I asked about whether The Pixar Story would be shown at any more film festivals in the future. She responded by saying that since the film is getting its U.S. cable TV debut tonight (on Starz), no more film festival screenings are planned. (Nothing planned for the Toronto International Film Festival. Bummer.)

Now to try and find some more details on that box set...

Monday, April 21, 2008

New WALL-E vignette on Disney.com [UPDATE]

A brand-new video clip featuring WALL-E has been posted to the homepage of Disney.com. The vignette is entitled "WALL-E Meets a Magnet", and is similar to the "WALL-E Meets a Vacuum" clip we got back in February.

I will be posting a link to a larger, higher quality version of the new clip as soon as it becomes available.

(via martini833 at the Pixar Planet forums)
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Update: Here are the links to the clip in higher quality, as promised. (Personally, I recommend QuickTime.)

QuickTime

Windows Media Player

(Links via ComingSoon.net)

More on 'Inside Steve's Brain'

About two hours ago, I received my copy of Inside Steve's Brain, which is now in stores. I've had a chance to skim through the book quickly, and so I've gotten a brief idea of the book's content and tone.

As expected, Inside Steve's Brain deals mostly with Steve Jobs' career and success at Apple. The sections on his work as a co-founder of Pixar are rather light on new information, and consist mostly of anecdotes already known to most Pixar fans. There are a few vintage quotes from Jobs regarding Pixar, which I hadn't read before, that I enjoyed.

Really, the book is not even so much about Apple as it is about Jobs himself. It's more about his personally and management style. And his quirks, of course.

For example: At one point in his life, before starting Apple, Jobs went on an all-apple diet, hoping it would prevent him from having to shower. To quote Kahney: "It didn't." (This was apparently during his LSD experimentation period.) Even now, Jobs often insists on walking barefoot to the local supermarket to pick up a smoothie.

All this paints a really vivid picture of Jobs, who Wired magazine recently termed an "evil genius".

This book is comprised of either 80% stuff you didn't know, or 80% stuff you already knew, depending on your familiarity with Jobs, Apple, and Pixar.

Either way, it makes for an interesting read. And very entertaining.

'The Pixar Story' reviewed

Toon Zone has published a critical review and analysis of the documentary The Pixar Story, which profiles Pixar's history and success in animation. In the article, Toon Zone writer Ed Liu specifically addresses the documentary's faults, which are said to be due to Disney/Pixar's involvement in the film. (Disney is distributing.)

Liu writes: "It's a good documentary, but it doesn't quite escape Pixar's influential pull... Her film falls into what sounds like an unfortunate mimicry of a company line."

My take: The above statement, I think, is a bit tough, but there is some truth to the criticism. The documentary was, in fact, sponsered and endorsed by Disney and Pixar. Leslie Iwerks, the film's director (who has worked with Disney and Pixar before), got total access to Pixar's archives. She also, among other things, got to interview many of the influentials at the company, including those who usually don't sit for on-camera interviews.

Realistically, then, I wouldn't expect much objectivity from the film (which I have yet to see). Nobody's going to get this kind of help from the subject of their movie, and then turn around and give air time to the not-so-nice facts of the subject's history.

Even so, I don't think that a positive documentary profile of a company is nessesarily a huge negative, at least not in this case. I will simply consider The Pixar Story to be Pixar's history as seen by Pixar. Nothing wrong with that. As a viewer familiar with the company, I'll know where certain details were left out, and I won't really care. I'll just be watching for the fun stuff.

Not to say that I wouldn't love to learn some more sordid details! I just don't think that this film would have been the right place to present them. For that, I'm looking forward to reading The Pixar Touch, which will be published next month. I've posted some details on the book here, and I've got some special posts planned for around the time of the book's release. Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

WALL-E footage shown at NYCC

As expected, footage from WALL-E was presented this morning at the New York Comic Con convention in New York City. We are just now getting the first detailed descriptions of the footage shown.

For the most part, the clips were the same as the ones shown at WonderCon back in February. But there was new footage, consisting of one previously-unseen clip featuring WALL-E and M-O, the cleaning and sanitation robot.

Several websites describe the content of new clip as follows:

Having stowed aboard the BNL Axiom, WALL-E hides as an army of cleaning robots go through the ship. M-O, the smallest of the 'bots, is charged with scanning for any contamination. M-O encounters WALL-E, who is totally filthy (being a trash compacting robot and all). Discovering that WALL-E is 100% contaminated, a very surprised M-O begins to clean him. WALL-E doesn't understand why. He runs away, as a very angry M-O follows him, cleaning up the dirt left behind by his tracks...

So, those are all the details available for now. If anything new related to the event comes up, I'll be sure to update here.

Brad Lewis finishes 9th in charity race

Last month, I reported on how Ratatouille producer (and now Cars 2 director) Brad Lewis would be participating in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity charity race on April 19. Well, today is April 19, and the results of the race are in!

According to the press release made public by Toyota Motorsports about one hour ago, Lewis "finished ninth overall and fifth among the celebrities", even though he had been leading during "the first eight laps and appeared to be on the way to victory." "Before going into the tire wall," that is.

ESPN reporter Jamie Little subsequently finished in first place.

The race (which sounds like it was a lot of fun) will be televised on the Speed Channel on Saturday, May 3 between 3:00 and 3:30 PM ET.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lasseter introduces Toy Story musical

Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, who also serves as Principal Creative Adviser at Walt Disney Imagineering, attended last week the official premiere of Toy Story: The Musical, which took place aboard the cruise ship Disney Wonder.

A video of his intro to the event has hit the web here, at LaughingPlace.com. Also posted are clips from the show.

During his short speech, Lasseter called Toy Story: The Musical "one of the greatest things that's happened to me, and all of us at Pixar".

(via The Disney Blog)

WALL-E charity screening

Pixar will be putting on a special screening of WALL-E at their Emeryville studios on Thursday, June 12. Tickets are $250, with all proceeds going to the Emery Ed Fund, which helps local public schools. (Pixar's Randy Nelson serves as VP of the organization.)

The event will also include a "wine reception" and a silent auction (of exactly what, I don't know).

More to come...

(via Pixar Planet forums)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

WALL-E soundtrack on Amazon

Briefly: The soundtrack to Pixar's WALL-E has just hit Amazon.com (with cover, pictured) and is now available for pre-order from there.

The CD, which retails for $18.98 ($12.97 on Amazon), will ship on June 24th –three days before the film's release.

Brad Bird to get lifetime achievement award

In a press release today, the Writers Guild of America (West) announced that Brad Bird, writer and director of Pixar's The Incredibles and Ratatouille, will be awarded the tenth-annual Animation Writing Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Animation Writers Caucus of the WGAW.

The kudos will be handed out next Wednesday, April 23, at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, California.

Congrats Brad!

(Photo credit: © A.M.P.A.S.)

WALL-E/Andrew Stanton featurette

A new video featuring director Andrew Stanton summarizing the story of WALL-E is now officially online. (Previously, it had been posted to YouTube in extremely bad quality, then taken down.)

The featurette, which can be viewed here, contains some exciting new footage from WALL-E, which will be in theatres in just under two and half months.

(via Upcoming Pixar)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

'Pixar Story' previews now online

The trailer for Leslie Iwerks' documentary The Pixar Story can now be seen online. It's been made available at the website of the American cable channel Starz, which will be showing The Pixar Story on April 22.

More importantly, be sure to catch the longer previews of the film that are available on the site. They're a lot of fun to watch, especially the one entitled "Emeryville and the Love Lounge".

For more information on The Pixar Story, which follows the story of Pixar's spectacular rise, and amazing corporate culture, see here.

Giant Luxo Jr. on show in Emeryville

A giant version of the Luxo Jr. lamp, star of the eponymous short film, has been placed outside the doors of Pixar’s studios and headquarters in Emeryville, California.

The lamp, with accompanying toy ball, is the same one that was displayed at the Melbourne, Australia showing of the Pixar: 20 Years of Animation exhibit.

More pictures can be found here.

(Photo credit: Clgood/Flickr)

WALL-E at New York Comic Con [UPDATE]

Disney and Pixar will be showing some "exclusive new footage" from WALL-E this Saturday at 11:00 AM at the New York Comic Con convention, which begins this Friday at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. No word on who will be hosting the event.

The footage shown will likely consist of the clips that were presented at WonderCon in February. Still very exciting considering that these clips are unfortunately not available anywhere online.
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Update: Major correction here. User Jibiti at the Pixar Planet forums points to an IGN.com article published yesterday that contains some additional details regarding the event.

Saturday's presentation, it turns out, will be hosted by Eric Moro, Editor in Chief of IGN Movies. Also on stage will be WALL-E producer Jim Morris, who'll be introducing the footage. Some of the clips will indeed be brand new and never-before-seen –not the same as those shown at WonderCon.

I'm actually thinking of flying down to New York for this. Seriously. I've flown to NYC for day trips before as it's a pretty short flight from T.O., near where I live. Don't think I'll find any reasonably priced tickets this late in the game, though.

Plus, I hate comics... :)

(Update at 5:18 PM)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pixar leasing Pompeii ruins? [UPDATE]

An article published online today in the archeology section of the website of Newsweek magazine mentions obscurely the possibility of Pixar renting the famous ruins of Pompeii for use as a "movie set". Warner Bros., Pixar's co-production partner on Brad Bird's upcoming live-action project 1906, is also mentioned in the article as being potentially interested in leasing the site.

What movie could this be for? I doubt it's for 1906, as that takes place in San Francisco, California early in the 20th century. John Carter of Mars perhaps? That's what I'm thinking. Or maybe it's for something we haven't heard anything about yet. Please leave your comments below. They are much appreciated.
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Update: About an hour ago, I phoned the guy mentioned in the Newsweek story as being in charge of the initiative to lease the ruins. His name is Claudio Velardi; I found his number at the website of the Region of Campania, which administers Pompeii. He doesn't speak much English (same goes for me and Italian) so the conversation was pretty tough.

I did manage to ask him what he could tell me regarding any interest by Pixar Animation Studios in the site, and what movie that would be for. He kept repeating that no movie is currently being filmed at Pompeii and that Pixar's involvement would be for putting on "events". I think he either misunderstood the question or had Pixar confused with some other group. Compounding the problem, he was speaking on a cell phone so it was hard to understand his responses.

So nothing new on that front. Will keep trying to find some more facts about this story...

(Updated on April 15)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Toy Story Mania! posters

Check out these Western-style posters now displayed outside the future locations of the Toy Story Mania! theme park attraction. Toy Story Mania! will be opening at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida late next month, and at Disney's California Adventure theme park inside Disneyland in California this June.

To refresh your memory a bit on Toy Story Mania!, it's basically going to be a high-tech midway game starring the characters of Pixar's Toy Story. Each player gets equipped with 3-D glasses and a cannon with which they have to shoot at virtual targets that come up during the game. The player with the most points wins. Advanced animatronics will also add to the attraction, as seen here.

This is really an example of Disney Imagineering at it's best...

(via Disney Information Station)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Video from 'Toy Story: The Musical'

Briefly: The website of the Orlando Sentinel has a new video report on Toy Story: The Musical, which is now showing aboard the Disney Cruise Line ship Disney Wonder.

Watch it here.

New EVE posters on display at Pixar HQ

Flickr user Capitu has uploaded some new photographs of the atrium of Pixar's Emeryville studios. On display there, as you can see, are previously unseen posters picturing WALL-E's female robot friend EVE.

Also displayed are other posters, similarly retro-styled, which have been around for a while now.

Let me just say, I hope these posters are made available for sale, and soon.

There go my savings...

Disney planning 3-D Blu-ray discs

Read this.

Disney has developed a method of digital 3-D presentation for the home. The technology will first be used on the Blu-ray release of the Hannah Montana concert film, which will be on DVD/Blu-ray this August.

Disney and Pixar have got to find a way to put this technology to good use rather than squandering it on a movie for tone-deaf preteen girls!

Actually, I'd be surprised if we don't see a 3-D version of WALL-E or maybe even Finding Nemo on Blu-ray, considering what Andrew Stanton said regarding the possibility of WALL-E being converted into stereoscopic 3-D at a later date.

(Please note that the above logo for 3-D Blu-ray is only a mock-up.)

Bob Iger interviewed

Fortune magazine has published a new interview with Disney CEO Robert Iger in which Pixar and it's acquisition by The Walt Disney Company are discussed.

Responding to a question on Pixar's revitalization of the Disney brand, Iger says,
"A major priority when we did the deal was to protect their culture. But we also wanted to give Pixar a much broader canvas to paint on."

(That's exactly what seems to be happening, with the enormous slate of films currently being produced by Pixar and the Walt Disney Animation Studios, which is now also led by Pixar's John Lasseter.)

When asked about his relationship with former Pixar CEO and now Disney board member Steve Jobs he explains,

"We talk about once a week on average, sometimes just to say hello, sometimes to ask his advice. We don't have to agree on everything... People are aware that Steve tends to be opinionated, which is misconstrued as being bad –I actually think it's a good thing because it provides perspective."
The interview makes for a very interesting read, whether you're a Disney investor or just an enthusiast, so be sure to check it out.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pixar's next short: 'Presto' [UPDATE]

Cartoon Brew has some new information on Pixar's next short film, which, it has been learned, will be entitled Presto. Also included is a still from the film, shown here.

The short, directed by Pixar animator Doug Sweetland, will be having it's official premiere at the Hiroshima International Animation Festival this August, and will be shown in theatres in front of WALL-E beginning June 27.

Read the story here.
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Update: Fellow Pixar fan Martini833 has found some additional details regarding Presto in an information supplement [PDF] compiled by The Walt Disney Company's chief archivist, Dave Smith.

The film is described as featuring a turn-of-the-century magician named Presto DiGiotagione, who's become famous for an astounding hat trick. His rabbit Alec is dissatisfied as he shares none of Presto's wild success. While Presto is out eating a lavish dinner, Alec is left behind, locked in a birdcage with a carrot tortuously out of reach.

Also revealed is that Doug Sweetland, the director, will be voicing both the lead characters in the 5-minute long short.

(Update at 7:45 PM)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Brand-new details on Pixar's upcoming films

Quint over at Ain't It Cool News was one of the journalists invited to the media presentation (pictured above) put on by Disney yesterday in New York City . He's written an excellent account of the event, which includes a boat/truckload of fresh info on Pixar's next five films; WALL-E, Up, Toy Story 3, Newt, and The Bear and the Bow.

I'm talking plot details, near-spoilers, brand-new, never-before-heard facts, and more. (Not that I believe in the concept of spoilers.)

I was going to summarize the post here but, frankly, it'd take me forever. It's that detailed. Go read it for yourself!
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P.S. Up really will be a tear-jerker...

Who the heck is Jordan Nagai? [UPDATE]

The revealing yesterday of the voice cast of Up listed actors Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, John Ratzenberger and Jordan Nagai as lending their voices to the film, which will be released to theatres on May 29, 2009.

There's one small problem with that last cast member: He or she doesn't exist, at least not according to the entire internet! There's no relevant mention of a "Jordan Nagai" anywhere on the web, including Google and IMDb, apart from the original news release from Disney which lists Nagai as a cast member, and websites such as this that quoted from the release.

At first I thought that this could just be a case of a typo, a mispelling of the intended actor's last name. But there's no actor with a convincingly similar last name anywhere on IMDb. A first time actor, perhaps?

Do you know who "Jordan Nagai" is? Please let me know.
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Update: We already know! We've known since last December! Please stop commenting on this!

(Updated April 6, 2009)

'Up' rumours debunked

The new details made public yesterday regarding Pixar's 2009 feature Up had the unintended effect of debunking a couple of the rumours which had surrounded the film.

The first of these was a story from December of last year which claimed that Up would be a retelling of the Spanish tale Don Quixote. The outline of Up's plot provided yesterday by Disney and Pixar clearly shows it to be an original story. This comes as no surprise to readers of this blog, as I had reported this past January that Up would indeed feature an original story.

The second of these dispelled rumours is the one from last week that claimed that Harrison Ford and Robin Williams would be providing voices for the film. Having learned who will really be forming the voice cast of Up, we can now ignore that story and the fraudulent Wikipedia entry it was based on. Never believed it anyways...

Despite the above, there are two stories that were supported by yesterday's new info. Firstly, there is the observation (based on concept art) that "the house is flying". The new title card/logo for the film clearly shows a house being held aloft by a bunch of balloons. Secondly, yesterday's synopsis of the film does seem to confirm the "Up will be sentimental" rumour (see here). After all, what's more sentimental than an 78-year old living all by himself, thinking that he never lived life to the fullest? Exactly.

So that's my take on things. Please feel free to leave a comment below. Comments are much appreciated.
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Just want to point out the new still from the movie that's posted above. Though it may look similar to the previously mentioned two-dimensional production art that's been on display at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park in Walt Disney World in Florida, you can see that this image has been rendered into 3D, and there are a few differences in the picture itself. And again, the house is flying...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Title cards for Pixar's upcoming films

I've just found these title cards/teaser posters for Up, Toy Story 3, and the three new films in production at Pixar that were announced today; Newt, The Bear and the Bow, and Cars 2. They've been made available for the press by Disney at their PR website.

Notice that the poster for Up does indeed show a flying house, as had been deduced from the concept art we saw back in January.

Official 'Up' synopsis

With the crush of news we got today regarding Pixar's upcoming projects (see here and here) we also got some new details regarding Up, in the form of a synopsis.

Up is described as a "comedic adventure" starring a 78-year man named Carl Fredricksen, who's "spent his entire life dreaming of exploring the globe and experiencing life to its fullest". Due to his age, he thinks life has "passed him by". One day, however, a "twist of fate", and an 8-year old "Wilderness Explorer" named Russell, changes his outlook on life. The pair go on adventures, encountering "wild terrain", "unexpected villains" and "jungle creatures".

(For the unedited synopsis read the press release here.)

This movie really seems like it'll be a throwback to old-school Disney storytelling, which I think is great...

WALL-E, 'Up', and Toy Story 3 voice talent announced

As part of today's major announcement regarding Disney and Pixar's upcoming film's schedule, voice talent for WALL-E, Up, and Toy Story 3 was also revealed.

Quickly:

WALL-E: In addition to Fred Willard, Jeff Garlin, and John Ratzenberger, who we aleady knew about, Sigourney Weaver and Kathy Najimy will also be part of the cast.

Up: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, John Ratzenberger and Jordan Nagai.

Toy Story 3: As expected, Tom Hanks and Tim Allen; Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, Estelle Harris, John Ratzenberger, and Ned Beatty.

Here's the news release again. I will be posting more details in a while. I'm in a real hurry to get to something extremely important. Please consider this post to be incomplete.

Got to run...

Three new Pixar films revealed

Three feature films currently in production at Pixar have just been announced by The Walt Disney Company. Dick Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, and Pixar chief creative officer John Lasseter made the announcement at a press event held in New York City today. The news came as part of a broader announcement regarding The Walt Disney Studios' animated film release schedule through 2012.

The new films are as follows:

Newt (2011)

The first release for the year 2011 will simply be entitled Newt (officially spelled in all lower case, as in newt), and that will be directed by Pixar's Gary Rydstrom for a summer release.

Newt is described in the news release as the story of "the last remaining male and female blue-footed newts on the planet", who though hating each other, "are forced together by science to save the species". (I'm loving this!) The main characters of the story are named "Newt" and "Brooke".

The Bear and the Bow (2011)

For release during the 2011 holiday season, Brenda Chapman (who worked on Cars) will be directing The Bear and the Bow, which is being billed as "Pixar's first fairy tale". (Hate the title, but that's just me...) This is the rumored film starring a princess from Scotland we heard about a while back.

It's description is as follows:

"Merida, though a daughter of royalty, would prefer to make her mark as a great archer. A clash of wills with her mother compels Merida to make a reckless choice, which unleashes unintended peril on her father's kingdom and her mother's life..." (I'm hating the plot as well, sorry.)

Voices for the film will be provided by Reese Witherspoon, Billy Connolly, and Emma Thompson.

Cars 2 (2012)

Cars 2 will indeed be hitting theatres in the summer of 2012, as previously rumoured. Ratatouille producer Brad Lewis will be directing. The film will revolve around Lightning McQueen and Mater, who find themselves in a "new world of intrigue, thrills and fast-paced comedic escapades around the globe."

All the films will be released in the Disney Digital 3-D presentation format, in addition to their regular release.

The press release, which has a lot more information, is available here.

So there you have it. This is just insanely huge news. Stay tuned...

Monday, April 7, 2008

AWN discusses WALL-E

Early this morning, we got a nice preview of WALL-E courtesy of ComingSoon.net, which reported on a media event held by Pixar this past February, around the time of the WonderCon convention.

Now the Animation World Network (AWN) has joined in, publishing a lengthy (and very informative) article detailing the event (and the included interview with director Andrew Stanton), as well as the first half-hour of the movie.

Read it here.

Security at Pixar

Getting inside the doors of Pixar's studios and headquarters is in itself no easy feat. But actually going into one of Pixar's presentation theaters, where films (or parts of films) are being screened in advance –that's even tougher, says Patrick Klepek of the MTV Multiplayer blog who writes today about his recent experience with Pixar security.

In his post, Klepek, who was one of the people invited for a tour of the Emeryville, California campus last week, describes Pixar's security screening process, which he says took around an hour, and involved a patting down and the checking of any electronic devices, among other things.

After reading this, Pixar has suddenly become even cooler to me...

ComingSoon.net previews WALL-E

The entertainment website ComingSoon.net has published a bit of a preview/review of Pixar's WALL-E, which will, of course, be released to North American theatres on June 27.

The article is based on a screening of only the first 35 minutes of the film that was enjoyed in February by the ComingSoon.net team. This is really the first actual critical appraisal we've seen of any part of the movie, so I am extremely hyped right now.

A few highlights: The piece, while not overly negative, suggests the movie is "preachy", and terms this a "potential flaw". (Well, we've heard that before...) Also, it explains how the film is set up. For example, billboards, newspaper articles, and the like are used to "fill in" the storyline. Sounds great. And apparently, so are the visuals. (Already knew that.)

Additionally, included on the page is a link to a recorded audio interview with WALL-E director Andrew Stanton. Be sure to listen in.

Again, I am so hyped... Need sedative. Need sedative now.

(via Upcoming Pixar)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

WALL-E game trailer

This looks like it's going to be a lot of fun to play...

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Update: I've now embedded the video in a far higher quality than was available on YouTube.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Even more WALL-E video game screenshots

Just this past Thursday, I was thrilled to see a handful of new screenshots from the much-awaited WALL-E video game. Today, the website WorthPlaying.com has just under two dozen (!) never-before-seen screenshots from the game.

Check them out here.

Friday, April 4, 2008

WALL-E screening at Pixar headquarters

The folks over at DailyGame.net write about a screening of scenes from WALL-E that took place yesterday at Pixar's studios in Emeryville, California, and the tour of the headquarters that went along with it.

On the tour, Tom Porter, who is working as associate producer on WALL-E, revealed that "the last bit of audio" was recorded yesterday, and that with "about 210 shots left to [be] complet[ed]", the film should wrap completely by the end of this month.

You've got to read this article...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

More WALL-E video game screenshots

IGN.com has five new screenshots from the Nintendo Wii version of the WALL-E video game, which will be released in stores this June.

See them here.

(via Nintendic)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Pixar donates $150,000 in software

Pixar has donated $150,000 worth of its industry-standard RenderMan computer image rendering software to the California State University at Fresno, commonly known as Fresno State.

The software, which is now being tested by the university for use in courses, will greatly improve the speed at which films can be created by students.

Read the full story here at the Central Valley Business Times.

Disney's retail strategy for 'Up'

A new article is up over at Jim Hill Media dealing with Disney's merchandising strategy for Pixar's Up, which is due to be released in theatres in the summer of 2009.

In the article Jim Hill writes,
"Given that this new Pete Docter movie stars a 70-year-old superhero... the belief in-house at Disney Consumer Products right now is that there just isn't going to be all that much demand for "Up" action figures. Which is why the Mouse has decided to take almost a boutique approach to this Pixar picture. Putting a very limited line of "Up"-related merch out there in to help support the release of this film."
So Disney is said to be looking at a very conservative approach when it comes to putting out products based on Up's characters.

As is often the case with Hill, a negative spin is put on the story. Well, I think that this plan, if true, is a very good idea. A glut of products is one thing that can really cheapen a movie's image. However, if this is the strategy, Disney and Pixar are going to have to really promote the movie in other ways. Otherwise, the risk is obviously that kids (and adults) won't be too hyped about the movie once it come out. And that's never good. Hype, hype, hype. Tastefully done. That's what it's all about.

I so wish I was in marketing...

Pixar changing its name? [2 UPDATES]

Upcoming Pixar reports that an "anonymous tipster" has told them that Pixar will be dropping the word Animation from the studio's full name of Pixar Animation Studios, thus becoming only the Pixar Studios.

This change will be supposedly be made this June in anticipation of Pixar's upcoming live-action releases, 1906 and the rumored John Carter of Mars films.

This may well be just another April Fools' joke (apparently on the part of the tipster), and frankly I hope that it is. I think Pixar Animation Studios has a ring to it. If Pixar wants to expand creatively into live-action (which I'm still on the fence about), then a perhaps a special live-action film banner would be a good idea. A separate banner would also facilitate the inclusion of grittier fare. But what to call it?
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Update: Now I'm really thinking Upcoming Pixar's post is just a prank. However, that still leaves open the issue of what Pixar will actually call itself once it's releasing live-action films.
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Update: UP has confirmed that the story was indeed an April Fools' joke :)