Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pixar employee awards [2 UPDATES]

According to the caption for this picture on Flickr (written by the photographer, Jason 'Jayfish' Hull, a systems administrator at Pixar since A Bug's Life) Pixar presented these awards yesterday to employees who've been with the studio for ten years or more. A total of 205 were handed out.

The original sculpture, from which the Buzz Lightyear statuettes were cast, was created by the very talented Jerome Ranft.

(Photo credit: Jayfish/Flickr)
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Update: There's more photos on Flickr here, here and here.

These pics, and their captions, indicate that each statuette weighs 14 pounds and the base bears the name of the recipient below the words "10 Years of Passion & Commitment".

Also, Pixarians who've been at the studio for 20 years plus got a Woody statuette.

(Updated at 1:42 PM)
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Update: And now there's pictures of the awards party. At right, Andrew Stanton, John Lasseter, and others examining the statuettes.

A couple of bonus pics:
  • Founding employee (now Vice President of Software) Eben Ostby holding both awards (good close-up of Woody statuette) [photo]

  • Ed Catmull enjoying what appears to be fried chicken [photo]

(Photo credit: Cwalkatron/Flickr)

(Updated at 8:29 PM)

Friday, February 27, 2009

More talk of Monsters, Inc. 2

Blue Sky Disney has a post up that says that "the rumors are true" that Pixar is working on Monsters, Inc. 2, and that Pete Docter is helming the project for a 2013 release.

Blue Sky Disney doesn't give even the slightest source information, but regardless it's very believable that a sequel is in the works. Last month, yours truly stumbled upon some very convincing evidence.

Enthused?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

'Up' character posters

Ain't It Cool News (AICN), /Film, and ComingSoon.net have gotten exclusive first looks at these three fun new character posters for Up (click to enlarge) that will be used to advertise the film in bus stop shelters soon enough.

Now, the Dug one is really, really cool, mainly because it's the first time we've gotten a close-up view of those mysterious dog collars that allow the dogs to speak. (You have to read some "spoilers" to know about this.)

Any thoughts?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pixar at the 81st Annual Academy Awards

(booming announcer voice)

Full of shine and full of sparkle, from the slick town of Hollywood, California, the 81st Annual Academy Awards ceremony is about to begin! Guests are now arriving at the Kodak Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center for the motion picture industry’s biggest night, watched by millions around the world.*

Pixar’s ninth feature film WALL-E and theatrical short film Presto have been nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for a total of seven awards. They are:

For WALL-E

  • Original Screenplay (Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, and Pete Docter)
  • Best Animated Feature Film of the Year (Directed by Andrew Stanton)
  • Achievement in Sound Editing (Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood)
  • Achievement in Sound Mixing (Tom Myers, Michael Semanick, and Ben Burtt
  • Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures ―Original Score (Thomas Newman)
  • Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures ―Original Song (For "Down to Earth", Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman)

For Presto

  • Best Animated Short Film (Directed by Doug Sweetland)

This page will be updated throughout the night (and tomorrow) with all the latest on red carpet interviews with cast and crew members, category wins and acceptance speeches, photos from the show, and more.

*Telecast live on ABC in the United States starting at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT. Check local listings for international broadcast information.
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Photo credit: Jon Didier/©A.M.P.A.S.

7:15 PM ET: Spotted Pixarians (i.e. Andrew Stanton, Jim Morris, John Lasseter, and Ed Catmull) in the background on the E! Live From the Red Carpet show with Ryan Seacrest. Looking great...
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7:35: Seacrest interviews Peter Gabriel. Asks him about refusing to perform "Down To Earth" at the Oscars as part of a medley. Very civilly says he would have been happy to do it "properly" and looks forward to enjoying the show nerves-free.
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8:30: Ceremony starts. Host Hugh Jackman on stage.
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8:50: No Original Screenplay win for WALL-E.
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9:10: WALL-E wins Best Animated Feature Film Oscar.
Andrew Stanton accepted the statuette. Begins by saying that producers Jim Morris and Lindsey Collins should be on stage with him to accept the award.

Stanton thanked the cast and crew and everyone at Disney and Pixar, in particular John Lasseter, Ed Catmull, and Steve Jobs. Also thanked by name his high school drama teacher who casted him as Barnaby in a production of Hello, Dolly!. Ends by thanking family and the Academy.

Before the award was handed out, Jack Black joked to co-presenter Jennifer Aniston that he makes a ton of money by taking a role in a DreamWorks Animation picture every year and then 'betting it all on Pixar', resulting in huge laughs from the audience and myself.

Photo credit: Michael Yada/©A.M.P.A.S.
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9:12: No win for Presto in Best Animated Short Film category.

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9:25: WALL-E and EVE included in, and end, 'romance in 2008' montage.
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10:30: No Sound Editing win for Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood for WALL-E.
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10:32: No Sound Mixing win for Tom Myers, Michael Semanick, and Ben Burtt.
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10:55: No Original Score win for Thomas Newman.

Nominees introduced following excellent live performance of "Define Dancing" from WALL-E conducted by Pixar-favourite composer and Oscar orchestra conductor Michael Giacchino.
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11:02: No win for "Down To Earth" in Original Song category. This is the last category WALL-E is nominated in for the night.

Award presentation was preceded by the controversial medley of songs. John Legend sang "Down To Earth". Very good at the start with Legend solo, not so much afterward with choir (surprisingly) and especially at the finish where they blended the songs (not so surprisingly).
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11:55: The 81st Oscars end with Slumdog Millionaire as the big winner of the night, being awarded the top prize, Best Motion Picture of the Year. A short clip from Up of Carl and Russell dragging the house was shown in a montage of what will be the big movies of 2009.

While I think WALL-E should have taken home more than one statuette, six nominations plus the one for Presto is really an honor for the studio.

I've been reserving this for a while, so let me say it now: Congratulations to Andrew Stanton and everyone at Pixar who helped in making WALL-E, a true animated classic. Yeah!

Thus WALL-E's journey from that famous lunch years ago to critical success and a total lifetime worldwide gross of over $530 million to Oscar gold draws to a close. For your enjoyment, the very first teaser trailer for the film, which premiered with Ratatouille in 2007.



Photo credit: Bryan Crowe/©A.M.P.A.S.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

WALL-E end titles award-worthy

An op-ed in Sunday's New York Times (NY edition in print; online at NYTimes.com) points out that if there was an Oscar for "Best Achievement in Film Title Design" the frontrunner this year would be WALL-E, with its "poignant" end titles/credits designed by Susan Bradley and Jim Capobianco.

Since there is no such prize, "We would like to urge the academy to create this much-needed category," write Emily Oberman and Bonnie Siegler, co-founders of a New York City-based design firm.

I would like to urge the same.

Friday, February 20, 2009

'Bugs' and 'Monsters' Blu-ray details [UPDATE]

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has revealed a release date and details for the highly anticipated debut of Pixar's A Bug's Life and Monsters, Inc. on the Blu-ray Disc high-definition home video format.

Both titles (Region 1) will be sold starting May 19. A Bug's Life is reported to be coming one disc only, while due to space requirements, Monsters, Inc. will be on two discs, the second disc (a DVD) containing a DisneyFile digital copy. There are conflicting reports about this; both may end up as two-disc releases.

The 'Bug's Life' Blu-ray will showcase exclusives such as:
  • An introduction by director John Lasseter
  • A roundtable with Lasseter, co-director Andrew Stanton, and producers Darla Anderson and Kevin Reher
  • Animated storyboards
  • BD-Live features

The Monsters, Inc. Blu-ray will feature an exclusive roundtable with director Pete Docter, co-director Lee Unkrich, producer Darla Anderson, and story supervisor (also the voice of Roz) Bob Peterson. Also included will be an interactive game and BD-Live stuff.

In addition to the above, both Blu-rays "will include all the features" that can be found on the currently available DVD releases.

No technical specifications have yet been released, but expect the best in picture and sound, just as with the WALL-E Blu-ray (read more).

(via Blu-ray.com)

This version adds details and caveat to correction that only the Monsters, Inc. Blu-ray will be a two-disc set.
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Update: TheHDRoom brings us the new "not-yet-finalized (but likely final)" cover art for the discs seen above and reports some additional facts/specs for the releases, as follows:

  • Suggested retail price: A Bug's Life, $39.99; Monsters, Inc., $40.99
  • 1080p video with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Original theatrical aspect ratio presentation (2.35:1 for 'Bugs', 1.85:1 for 'Monsters')
  • Embossed foil O-sleeve packaging

(Updated at 7:24 PM)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

First 45 min. of 'Up' to screen at WonderCon

Disney just announced in an email to press that, following the previously announced Up panel at WonderCon 2009 on Saturday, February 28 between 3:30 PM and 4:30 PM, there will be a special showing of the first forty-five minutes of Up, similar to the hugely successful one at New York Comic Con (NYCC) earlier this month.

The screening will happen at the AMC Loews Metreon 16 theatre located directly across from the convention venue, the Moscone Centre. Showtime is at 7:30 PM but the recommendation is "to arrive at the theatre early" as "seating [will be] limited to the first 250 guests". Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera will introduce the screening.

No cameras, audio/video recording devices, mobile phones, or talking dogs will be allowed in; all must be checked at the door. Natch.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stanton discusses WALL-E Oscar nods

ReelzChannel's got a short, 7-question Q&A with Andrew Stanton. In it he answers questions about the six Oscar nominations bestowed on WALL-E --the most ever for a Pixar film and tieing with Disney's Beauty and the Beast for the most nominations for an animated film period.

Read it here.
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Remember: The 81st Academy Awards happen this Sunday. The Pixar Blog will be the #1 place anywhere (not just online, mind you) for all the latest on Pixar at the Oscars!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Gabriel refuses to perform at Oscars

Hollywood news and gossip site Deadline Hollywood Daily reported yesterday that Peter Gabriel will not be performing "Down to Earth" —his Oscar-nominated song from WALL-E— at the Academy Awards later this month due to a dispute with the show's producers. And now it's confirmed.

Gabriel, who issued a statement explaining his decision, is upset that the producers offered to allot only 60-65 seconds of a planned medley to each of the three nominated songs, this apparently to shorten the length of the Oscars show. The producers counter that 90 seconds were offered. No word yet on how, or even if, the song will be performed now.

Gabriel says he still "very much look[s] forward to attending the ceremony."

(via Animation Magazine)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

'Up' at WonderCon

Following on the heels of the huge showing at New York Comic Con, the WonderCon convention will be the site of another exciting event promoting Pixar's Up.

Pete Docter will be in attendance on Saturday, February 28 to present a special look at the movie. The hour-long panel begins at 3:30 PM and takes place in the Esplanade area. No further specifics have yet been made public. Do expect a strict ban on all types of recording, photography, and electronic devices.

As should be evident from the above banner, WonderCon 2009 runs from Friday, February 27 to Sunday, March 1 at The Moscone Center (South) in San Francisco.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Docter and Rivera talk 'Up' in NYC [2 UPDATES]

Yesterday in New York City, a select group of journalists were invited to participate in a roundtable interview with Up director Pete Docter (pictured at left) and producer Jonas Rivera.

No big headlines, but some really interesting points on the origins of Up's story and much more.

Read the transcript at Cinema Blend.
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Update: A couple more recent must-read Q&As with Docter and Rivera:

(Updated Feb. 11)
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Update: And finally, /Film has a video interview conducted at NYCC.

(Updated Feb. 13)

Two Grammys for WALL-E tracks

Peter Gabriel's "Down to Earth", from the WALL-E soundtrack, won the Best Song (Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media) Grammy just about an hour ago, at the 51st annual Grammy Awards, taking place tonight in Los Angeles.

WALL-E composer Thomas Newman's composition "Define Dancing" was given the Best Instrumental Arrangement prize.

The motion picture awards, and several others, are handed out prior to the start of the televised ceremony, during the Grammy "pre-show".

Newman was on hand to accept both awards.

WALL-E wins BAFTA award

Briefly: WALL-E won in the Animated Film category, one of three in which it was nominated, at today's Orange British Academy Film Awards, presented in London by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

The prize was accepted by producer Jim Morris.

Catmull accepts Gordon E. Sawyer Oscar

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

Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull, also president of Walt Disney Animation Studios, accepted the Gordon E. Sawyer Award statuette at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Scientific and Technical Awards, held last night in Beverly Hills, California.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that "attendees yelled and stood for Catmull" as he accepted the special Oscar that, according to the Academy, is meant to honor "an individual... whose technological contributions have brought credit to the [motion picture] industry." Catmull proceeded to thank George Lucas, Steve Jobs, John Lasseter and everyone at Pixar and Disney in his speech.

During the presentation, host Jessica Biel had some nice things to say about Pixar's films, including WALL-E, and suggested that animated films deserve to be considered for Best Picture.

Highlights from the Sci-Tech Awards will be included in the Academy Awards telecast two weeks from now, on February 22.

Congratulations to Dr. Catmull on winning this award.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

'Up' special screening reports [UPDATE]

A lot of Up news came out of New York City today, where three events were put on to showcase Pixar's tenth feature —a special press-only screening of the film's first forty-five minutes yesterday, the New York Comic Con panel this afternoon showcasing five individual clips, and a public screening of the first fifty minutes this evening, also at NYCC.

The consensus from those that attended is unsurprising: Pixar has created another instant classic. Another winner. And this with a temporary score and unfinished animation!

Below are links to some of the best reports available, including some selected quotes. A lot of, frankly, thrilling details about Up can be found within. Please note that these stories do, to one degree or another, contain what some may refer to as "spoilers".

"Carl Fredricksen is bound to go down as one of (if not) the most human and sincere Pixar characters ever created."

  • Comic Book Resources (NYCC panel. Summery of the Q&A with Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera, as well as of the clips shown.)

"You can guarantee that if the rest of the movie is nearly as heart-warming and fun as what we saw, this is going to be another beloved Pixar classic."

"This footage has that same magical feeling that Monsters, Inc does (and every Pixar movie does), and that's of course thanks to director Pete Docter."

"The bottom line is Pixar has delivered another rollicking winner. When the screen cut out after the 45 minutes had passed, the crowd let out an audible, frustrated sigh."

  • /Film (NYCC screening. Most complete report, contains a detailed description of the movie's first 45-50 minutes.)

"Make no mistake: The first segment of this film is Pixar at its finest... Honestly, the film is worth watching for the first 10 minutes alone."
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This post has been updated (Feb. 8) to include two additional story links (/Film and Comic Book Resources).

Pixar's next short: 'Partly Cloudy'

The folks at Upcoming Pixar have discovered the title of Pixar's next theatrical short film, to be seen with Up on May 29: Partly Cloudy. The reference is to an entry for the short found in the latest supplement to Disney archivist Dave Smith's book Disney A to Z: The Official Encyclopedia, a very authoritative source.

From the brief entry we learn that Partly Cloudy is being directed by animator and story artist Peter Sohn (pictured), better known as the voice of Emile in Ratatouille. No synopsis is provided.

On Wednesday, responding to an email I sent asking when we could expect to "learn the title and synopsis" of Pixar's next short, a senior studio publicist told me, "We might be ready to talk about it in March or April." So we should learn more then. Exciting, isn't it?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Brad Bird on '1906' and Toy Story 3

Brad Bird (director of Pixar's The Incredibles and Ratatouille) spoke to MTV News yesterday on the topic of his upcoming live-action film 1906 and also Toy Story 3. His comments are now up at the MTV Movies Blog.

On 1906 Bird says: "The best way to sum [it] up would be that it's a romantic, epic, mystery with lots of action in it, based around events leading up to and through the earthquake in San Francisco in 1906."

Bird calls 1906's unique production structure —a Warner Bros. picture with involvement by Disney and Pixar— "Pixar-adjacent". (Go to the post to read his complete comments.)

MTV reports that the film is in the early stages of pre-production and that filming locations are being scouted while the "finishing touches" are put on the script.

About Toy Story 3 we learn that "it's about ready to go into [full] production". Bird declined to elaborate further on the story and such, saying only, "There are some new characters, yes. It's going to be a lot of fun."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

See 50 minutes of 'Up' at NYCC

New York Comic Con announced today on its official blog that the first fifty minutes of Up will be screened at the convention this coming Saturday, Feb. 7 at 6:30pm inside the IGN Theater. Director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera are scheduled to attend the event.

Seating for the special screening is said to be "EXTREMELY limited" and thus attendees are urged to arrive one hour before for a security check-in. Electronics such as cameras, cell phones, and recording devices will be strictly prohibited.

Note that this is a seperate event from the Up panel that will happen earlier in the day, between 2:30 PM and 3:30 PM, also at the IGN Theater.

New York Comic Con takes place this year from February 6-8 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in beautiful New York City.

(via Toon Zone)

Happy 23rd anniversary, Pixar

On February 3, 1986, Pixar became an independent company. That makes today its 23rd anniversary.

Congratulations to all those who helped make Pixar what it is today.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Spot the Pixarians!

Photo credit: Greg Harbaugh/©A.M.P.A.S.

Several Pixarians were in attendance at today's Oscar Nominees Luncheon, held at the The Beverly Hilton, where each nominee was handed an Official Certificate of Nomination by A.M.P.A.S. president Sid Ganis in advance of the 81st Annual Academy Awards taking place later this month.

Among them were Ed Catmull (see here for why), Pete Docter, and, of course, Andrew Stanton (who stood next to the drool-inducingly-hot Penelope Cruz and Anne Hathaway). Other familiar faces included WALL-E sound designer Ben Burtt, as well as Byron Howard and Chris Williams, directors of Disney's Bolt.

Challenge: Try and spot them in the above picture. Click to enlarge.

For last year's version of this, which included a hilarious Michael Moore fat joke, go here.