Thursday, July 31, 2008

TPB post hits Digg homepage

Don't mean to be a pompous ass, but my exclusive post from yesterday featuring the five new images of Up stars Carl and Russell hit the homepage of social news site Digg.com about one hour ago, having been voted up, or "Dugg", hundreds of times.

Thusly, The Pixar Blog has received over 10,000 unique visitors in the last hour. That's 167 per minute, or nearly 3 per second.

Hihihihi.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Disney reports Q3 earnings

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS), Pixar's corporate parent for over two years now, reported this afternoon its financial results [pdf] for the third fiscal quarter of 2008.

During the earnings call, CEO Bob Iger spoke about the "solid" quarter, which narrowly surpassed Wall Street expectations, being buoyed in part by positive results from the ESPN network and the Disneyland Resort in Paris.

About Pixar's WALL-E, Iger said:
"WALL-E is a big hit, generating nearly $200 million at the domestic box office so far, and, in a testament to its quality, has been the best reviewed film of the year, animated or otherwise. We believe WALL-E will continue to provide substantial value over time as one of our classic films."
The 'Street' responded sluggishly to the report, sending the stock down roughly $0.75 in after hours trading.

Docter hints at Monsters, Inc. 2

Up and Monsters, Inc. director Pete Docter, through a "non-denial denial", hinted to MTV News recently that a sequel to Monsters, Inc. is being planned, writes Shawn Adler of the MTV Movies Blog (who consistently misspells Docter's last name as Doctor).

He says: "When I followed up with Doctor about [the ideas for a sequel being considered] all he would say is "I can neither confirm nor deny". (And he did it in a nervous voice)."

Adler believes that "Doctor’s revelation... is a far cry from an actual announcement", or confirmation. Yeah, that's what people said back in February when Disney CEO Bob Iger said that it was "a relatively good bet" that there would be a Cars sequel. The film was officially announced to be in production exactly 2 months and 2 days after Iger made his comments.

So now it's "a relatively good bet" that there will at some point be a Monsters, Inc. 2 (Yay!). The big question should be when and who'll be directing. If it's Docter himself, then the film could be out no earlier than 2014/15. If it's another director (and Pixar seems to be more comfortable with switching directors these days) then possibly even earlier than that.

'Up' pictures from Comic-Con

These wonderful never before seen (by the non-Comic-Con-attending public) images of Carl and Russell from Up, as well Carl's house surrounded by development and the hand-drawn concept art, have been uploaded to Flickr.

They're actually photographs of five of the still images that were shown at Comic-Con in San Diego on Saturday. (Cropped and enhanced them using Photoshop.)

On Monday, the Pixar PR person who confirmed BURN-E for me also told me that the stuff presented at SDCC would not be released online. Hence, take a good look now, 'cause I might be hearing from Disney soon...
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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

AWN interviews Pete Docter

The Animation World Magazine (part of the Animation World Network) has published a new conversation with Up director Pete Docter, and boy is it ever a good read.

The Q&A covers topics ranging from the differences between Up and Docter's previous masterpiece Monsters, Inc. to the 12-person research team sent by Pixar to the exotic Tepui mountains of South America to the very square head of Carl Fredricksen, Up's geriatric lead character, who, we learn, was in the balloon retail business.

Read it here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pixar confirms BURN-E; announcement coming soon

Less than one hour ago, a member of the Pixar publicity team was finally able to officially confirm for me that BURN-E will indeed be the extra short film included on the WALL-E DVD/Blu-ray (in stores this November). The person informed me that a "consumer announcement" regarding the short (and presumably the WALL-E DVD) "should be coming out shortly".

Of course, BURN-E has been all but confirmed before this. Since the title was leaked late last month, we've learned that BURN-E is the welder robot who gets locked out of the Axiom in WALL-E. Thus, the short will likely feature him trying to find his way back in.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pete Docter talks 'Up' at Comic-Con [UPDATE]

It's a Pixar movie!
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Update: Docter also spoke extensively about Up to Ain't It Cool News. Read that interview here.

(Updated July 28)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

SDCC 'Up' panel details [UPDATE]

The panel for Pixar's Up at Comic-Con International in San Diego took place this afternoon. Several websites have posted a plethora of (very exciting) details on the event, including descriptions of the clips shown.

The panel began with director Pete Docter getting up on stage and talking about Up's plot; he also introduced each of the clips, one of which was an entire, though partially unfinished, sequence from the film.

From both Docter and the clips themselves, audiences learned that the film's star, Carl Fredricksen, is a "grumpy old man" who lives in a big city. He's refused to sell his home to developers who have, in turn, built around it. As has been known for a while now, Carl is a widower. When his wife Ellie was alive, he had promised her that they'd go on a big adventure one day —to some "fantastical" mountains in South America (i.e. Venezuela). Since she never got the chance, Carl really wants to go on the adventure, in keeping with his promise.

(Pixar sent actually sent a research team, which included Pete Doctor, to Venezuela. Pixarian Ronnie del Carmen has a couple of photos of the trip on his blog.)

One day, just when he's about to be taken away to a nursing home, he decides to attach a bunch of balloons to his house, as seen in the film's title card. The house takes off, with Carl shouting “So long, boys!” to the nursing home guys. People on the street and in the surrounding buildings "look on in disbelief" as the house flies higher and higher. Using sails he 'charts a course South', towards Venezuela, looking down at the ground below and then at a picture of Ellie.

The house now floats along smoothly, right between the clouds. Carl sits down to take a rest. Suddenly, he hears a knock at the door... (Clip ends) It will turn out to be a chubby little boy scout named Russell who had somehow stowed away on board the house, Docter explained to the audience, which is said to have received the footage enthusiastically.

The next (and final major) clip began with the house finally landing. Carl and Russell slide to the ground using a garden hose, which can be seen in the above picture. This was followed by some unfinished footage.

With all the clips shown, the question-and-answer portion of the program began. According to reports, a sizable amount of people are said to have left at this point (see update).

Docter proceeded to get a couple of question not related to Up. He was first asked the perennial question about "what sort of classes" are necessary for someone wanting to working in computer animation. After his answer to that, he got asked about the possibility of a Monsters, Inc. sequel. "We’ve thought about it... If we find a story worth telling, we’ll do it. Otherwise, we won't", was his response. Following that, several questioners stood up and asked about the Up's message and theme.

So if reports are correct (see update), it was probably a somewhat tough day for Pete Docter. It happens! All the better on opening day...

Oh, there's one more thing: The official Up website (disney.com/Up) launched as the presentation was in progress. As with the WALL-E site this time last year, nothing much is available on the site, just a Flash 'teaser' of the house flying with Carl standing on the front porch (cropped still pictured above).

(Sources: SpoutBlog; /Film; FirstShowing.net)
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Update: I'm being told that the claim that a fairly large portion of the audience members left at the start question and answer portion (sourced from SpoutBlog) may be quite exaggerated. My apologies if that is the case. I've edited the article to make this clear, and for better general clarity.

(Updated on July 27)

Radio interview with Andrew Stanton

At a press junket held in the Netherlands last week, Andrew Stanton sat down for an interview [MP3 audio file] with Dutch station Radio 3FM to chat (in English) about his role writing and directing WALL-E, which will be released in the Netherlands this upcoming Wednesday, July 30.

The conversation, roughly 20 minutes long, features Stanton discussing:
  • The differences between Finding Nemo and WALL-E
  • How Disney's legendary Nine Old Men and the Pixar "Brain Trust" compare
  • WALL-E's Best Picture Oscar chances
  • John Carter of Mars
  • Disney theme park rides based on Pixar movies
  • His involvement with Toy Story 3
Best of all, you get to hear Stanton momentarily reprise his role as Crush (the turtle) from Finding Nemo. Dude!

Shout out to Harold R. of D-log.nl for sending me the link to the audio file.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Interview with Tim Hauser

Animated Views has posted a very good Q&A with Art of WALL-E author Tim Hauser, where he talks about the book and his long history with Disney and Pixar.

Notably, Hauser reveals in the interview that he is currently working on The Art of Up and another book, The Pixar Treasures. No details were provided as to Treasures, except that it will be published by Disney Editions in 2009.

(via Upcoming Pixar)

BNL website gone

This has just now come to my attention: The Buy N Large website, set up in 2007 to promote the fictitious company behind the events of WALL-E, has been shut down. Buynlarge.com now redirects to the official WALL-E movie site at Disney.com.

Too bad. It was pretty funny...

Bomb squad called to Pixar headquarters

Apologies for the overly sensational headline :)

The San Mateo Daily Journal has published an article on the reason behind the listing of the San Mateo County Bomb Squad in the Special Thanks section of the WALL-E end credits.

As it turns out, back in 2005 the squad lent Pixar their "vintage" Mini-Andros robot (pictured), usually used to neutralize explosives, so that Pixarians could spend a few hours studying and recording its movements, taking, in fact, "thousands" of pictures, that according the police sergeant interviewed in the Journal story.

Why this robot? Well, it's old —kinda like WALL-E. According to the article, San Mateo County, which, like Pixar, is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, is one of only two counties in the United States still actively using the Mini-Andros. The 'bot first went into service in 1993.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Barack Obama loves WALL-E

No matter how busy you might be, you now officially have no excuse not to see WALL-E. Just ask Barack Obama.

The U.S. Democratic presidential candidate and junior senator from Illinois told the media today that he saw WALL-E with his daughters last weekend in his hometown of Chicago.

His thoughts: "WALL-E was great. Thumbs up. It's terrific. I really enjoyed it."

(via Upcoming Pixar)

(Photo credit: David Katz for Barack Obama/Flickr)

'Up' elevator advertising

To coincide with this weekend's Comic-Con in San Diego, at least one elevator at a local hotel has been wrapped in a cool Up flying-house-and-clouds theme, reports /Film, which has three pictures of the advertisement.

The inside of the elevator doors bear the tagline GO UP! 05-29-09 –May 29, 2009 being the film's release date.

*On Saturday, Comic-Con attendees will be getting their chance to enjoy an exclusive 'first look' at Up. Check back here Saturday evening for all the latest to emerge from the show.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pixar comic books coming [UPDATE]

In an unprecedented announcement tied to San Diego Comic-Con (which runs through Sunday), Disney Publishing Worldwide and BOOM! Studios revealed this morning that a line of comic books based on characters from Pixar's Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Cars, WALL-E, and most exciting of all, The Incredibles, will be produced starting at the end of this year.

A preview book (cover pictured) will be available at the BOOM! Studios Comic-Con booth for $5.

Read the full story at IGN.com and Comic Book Resources.
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Update: The Disney Snowglobes blog has some plot details regarding the first series of Incredibles comics. The series will should span "about four issues" and will deal with "Mr. Incredible slowly losing his powers and trying to keep [the] secret from his family."

(Updated on July 24)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pixar Studio Night at SIGGRAPH

Pixar will be putting on a special "Production Studio Night" at this year's SIGGRAPH conference, which takes place in Los Angeles next month (August 11-15).

(Sony Pictures Imageworks and Pixar biological parent Lucasfilm will also be hosting their own production nights.)

The event, scheduled for August 12 as part of the SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival, will feature conversations with John Lasseter and Leslie Iwerks, director of The Pixar Story (which will be screened for attendees), as well as other industry notables.

Complete details are available at the SIGGRAPH website.

This is not the only presentation at SIGGRAPH 2008 to feature a high-profile Pixarian: As reported back in March, Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull will be one of three keynote speakers at the computer graphics conference.

(via MarketWatch)

Monday, July 21, 2008

'Monsters, Inc.' ride in works for WDW

Jim Hill Media has a new article up today about a Monsters, Inc.-themed ride (a rollercoaster) that's being planned for Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park inside Walt Disney World in Florida. (Disney is said to be aiming for a Fall 2011 opening.)

The article has some great descriptions of the ride's different features which will include an "elaborate recreation" of the Monsters, Inc. lobby and 'scare floor', as well as the 'door vault' sequence. And there will be audience participation.

Now this sounds very exciting. These are the type of attractions that make Disney parks so wonderful.

Of course, a Monsters, Inc. ride would be only the latest of many, many, attractions to open at Disney parks based on Pixar's movies and characters. John Lasseter is, after all, the Principal Creative Adviser at Walt Disney Imagineering, The Walt Disney Company's theme park and attraction design and development arm.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

AICN gets exclusive Lasseter access

Quint of Ain't It Cool News has published the first of a series of posts based on his experiences following Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, who since Pixar's merger with The Walt Disney Company also serves as Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar's sister studio.

Quint got the never-before-given okay to "shadow" Lasseter for one day each month as he works at WDAS (located in Burbank, California) as a very involved executive producer* on the studio's next release Bolt, which will be in theatres this November.

(via Upcoming Pixar)

*While nearly all online sources currently omit mention of Lasseter as an executive producer on Bolt, Walt Disney Animation Studios publicity recently confirmed for me that he will indeed be credited as such.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

RT and IGN talk to WALL-E crew [UPDATE]

Rotten Tomatoes and sister site IGN have posted two excellent articles built around dialogue from Andrew Stanton and key members of the WALL-E production team ―producer Jim Morris, co-producer Lindsey Collins, sound designer Ben Burtt, story artist Derek Thompson, and animators Angus MacLane, David DeVan, and Rodrigo Blaas.

The first article deals exclusively with the making of WALL-E; the second with the "philosophy of Pixar", or "what it's like to work at the greatest animation studio in the world".
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Update: Rotten Tomatoes and IGN have now added two more articles.

At RT, we find Derek Thompson explaining the storyboard process for WALL-E. Over at IGN, Andrew Stanton talks a bit more about the history and development of the film. The article incorporates more production photographs, including one of Stanton directing some of the live-action actors in front of a greenscreen.

(Updated July 17)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

'Up' character seen in 'Ratatouille'

Some exciting news about one of the characters that will be appearing in Pixar's next release Up found its way online today.

If you recall the scene in Ratatouille pictured at top, around 16 minutes into the film, where Remy is barked at by a dog who remains off-screen, except for his shadow –well that same dog will be seen in Up.

This reference –the latest in a long line of Pixar in-jokes– was discovered on the special commentary feature of the Ratatouille Blu-ray disc, where director Brad Bird mentions that the dog (a drawing of which is included in Animated News' post on the subject) will be in 'Pixar's next film after WALL-E'.

Surprisingly, the comment had not been previously noticed, even though the 'Rat' Blu-ray has been out for around eight months now.

Rotten Tomatoes tours Pixar

Rotten Tomatoes has added a new photo tour of Pixar's studios, famously located in "fashionable" Emeryville, California.

The tour consists of 18 photographs (including the one shown above) of the studios and the surrounding property.

I know, I know, I've linked to this kind of thing before but, personally, I can't get enough of this type of thing...

(Photo: Rotten Tomatoes)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Vet game designer working with Pixar

The big news in the world of gaming today is the revelation that well-known video game designer Warren Spector, who's game development studio was acquired by Disney in 2007, is working on games in conjunction with Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios (formerly Walt Disney Feature Animation).

It all started with an entry posted yesterday on Spector's blog where he says:
"My team and I have been working hard on our own and (get ready for the cool factor to go way up) in collaboration with folks from Disney Feature Animation and Pixar. If I say anymore, I’ll get in trouble, so let’s just leave it at that."
What could this be about? On the Pixar side of things, put your money on Toy Story 3. It can't be Up; Pixar's contract with game publisher THQ runs through Up, ending thereafter. Or perhaps it's something else entirely...

(Photo: Wired)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

WSJ critic calls for WALL-E Best Picture nom

Film critic Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal adds his voice today to the suggestions that WALL-E should be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar at the next Academy Awards –the "nomination it so richly deserves", as he puts it.

In the editorial, Morgenstern expresses concern at the known possiblity that Disney corporate may not campaign for WALL-E to get the Best Picture nod due to historical doubts about whether an animated picture can break out of the Best Animated Feature category. Thus, he tells Disney: "Do the right thing". (Echo that.)

This is great. To see the mainstream media paying attention really gives one hope that this could be Pixar's year for a Best Picture nom. Or win.

Friday, July 11, 2008

How WALL-E met 'Dolly' [UPDATE]

Entertainment Weekly (EW) has published a very special short Q&A with WALL-E director Andrew Stanton where he discusses his legendarily unusual choice to incorporate into WALL-E songs and footage from the movie-musical Hello, Dolly!.

Also, tacked on is a separate chat with Jerry Herman, who conceived the music of Hello, Dolly! (both the film and the stage musical it's based on) nearly half a century ago. As previously reported, Herman is ecstatic over WALL-E's use of his songs. He says of Stanton: "I think this guy is some kind of genius".

Well said, Jerry, well said.
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Update: Hollywood trade publication Variety has also spoken to Herman, in particular about the prospect of a new Broadway production of WALL-E's favourite musical.

(Updated at 11:42 PM)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

'Up' at Comic-Con

Collider.com has obtained some details directly from Disney regarding the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con panel for Pixar's Up.

The panel will be taking place at Comic-Con on Saturday, July 26th between 3:00 and 3:30 PM. Not surprisingly, director Pete Docter will be attending the event to present "the first-ever look" at Up, Pixar's tenth feature film, set to be released to theatres next year on May 29.

As for when the rest of us will get our first glimpse of the movie, I suspect we'll be seeing the first teaser trailer attached to Disney's unspeakably dumb-looking Beverly Hills Chihuahua, which hits theatres on October 3.

Thanks to JV for the tip.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Inside a Pixarian's closet

No, this is not some sick fantasy! It's a feature of the fashion section of today's Wall Street Journal, which profiles the style sense of WALL-E co-producer Lindsey Collins.

In the piece, Collins takes the WSJ on a tour of her wardrobe and talks about her choice of clothes for various occasions. For example, she talks about her decision to wear a white EVE-inspired gown to the WALL-E wrap party.

Read it here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

TIME on WALL-E's Best Picture chances

TIME has published online an article dealing with the hot topic that is the possibility of a Best Picture nomination or even win for WALL-E at the upcoming 81st Academy Awards.

The piece looks at WALL-E's chances when faced with the Academy's historic bias against animated films, balanced by the extraordinarily postive critical response the film has gotten.

Unbelievably, though, the article says that it is currently "not clear" whether The Walt Disney Company actually wants to campaign for the top prize.

This story isn't going anywhere. Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

WALL-E crosses $100 million mark

WALL-E has passed the 100 million dollar mark at the North American box office, achieving an estimated gross of $104 million in the eight days since its release.

According to Variety, WALL-E is the fifty-eighth film in the history of The Walt Disney Company to hit the $100 mil mark.

Excellent!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

WALL-E trailer girl invited to wrap party

Don't know why this story took this long to come out, but anyways...

Remember the young woman, "Courtney", who a while back posted onto YouTube a video of herself crying at the WALL-E teaser trailer, particularly every time WALL-E appeared? (If not, see video embeded above.) Well, as it happens she was invited by Pixar to the WALL-E wrap party which took place in San Francisco on June 1st; just yesterday she posted her account of the "adventure" on her blog.

Speaking at the party, Andrew Stanton expressed Pixar's appreciation of her fandom by saying,

"Six months ago... we were only halfway done with the film, and we weren't exactly sure how we were going to get it done. We were exhausted. And then, one day, a movie showed up on YouTube showing a girl watching the trailer for WALL-E... When we saw that, we knew we were on the right track." "Well," he continued, "We invited Courtney here tonight."

Needless to say, lots of applause followed. Later on in the evening she got to chat with Stanton and also Brad Brad, among other Pixarians. The next day, she got a tour of the studio. Really, you must read her complete post; a lot more specifics.

Does sound like a lot of fun. Hmm. Guess what I'm going to do when the Up teaser is released... ;( Just in time for the WALL-E Oscar party :)

(via Cinematical)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

'Presto' now on iTunes

Pixar's most recent short film, Presto, which is being shown in theatres before WALL-E, has been made available for purchase (must have iTunes installed) for $1.99 from the iTunes Store (currently U.S. and Canada only).

The comedic short, which follows a magician and his disgruntled rabbit, runs 5 minutes 17 seconds.

(via Upcoming Pixar)

'Hello, Dolly!' songwriter loves WALL-E

Jerry Herman, who decades ago composed the tunes of Hello, Dolly!, is thrilled to see the prominent use of two of them –"Put On Your Sunday Clothes" and "It Only Takes A Moment"– in WALL-E, reports the Hartford Courant.

He tells the newspaper: "It really blew me away. You're talking to someone still in a haze. I couldn't believe how beautifully the songs expressed the entire intent of the film."

As it turns out, Herman was "not aware of how the songs were going to be used"; he was thinking something along the lines of background music.

This is not in the article, but Herman probably has more reason to smile: Royalties. And he's hoping for renewed interest in the film and musical, perhaps even a Broadway revival.