Sunday, April 26, 2009

'Up' wrap party

I just got back from Buffalo. It's 2 AM. Seriously.

The Up wrap party took place Saturday evening in Oakland, California, and it was, by all accounts, a big success. Attendees were greeted by a variety of Up-themed decorations and in-jokes and received blue Up wristbands and other such party favors. Nearly every well-known Pixarian was present.

Hundreds of pictures from the gathering have since been uploaded to Flickr, including the one shown above taken by user Cwalkatron.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tom Hanks on Pixar and Toy Story 3

Nicest guy in Hollywood (also my favourite actor, pictured at right as Forrest Gump) Tom Hanks has been talking more about Pixar and Toy Story 3 in particular lately, where he will, of course, be reprising his role as Woody.

Speaking with Variety in a piece published online an hour ago, Hanks said in part:

"Being in the hands of the people at Pixar, it's like getting into the JPL [Jet Propulsion Laboratory]. You're with folks who invented the art form in many, many ways and never seem to rest on their laurels. It's like I've been invited to a great party for a third time.

"We wouldn't be doing this if there wasn't a story where it's like, 'How do you guys come up with this?'"

He talked further about the challenges and rewards of recording voice work for an animated film.

Hanks also discussed 'TS3' briefly with Empire magazine earlier this week, recounting how the studio showed him a complete story reel of the movie before he signed on. His response: "This is great, let's get to work!"

Sohn talks to AWN about 'Partly Cloudy'

An engrossing three-page Q&A with Partly Cloudy director Peter Sohn is up at the Animation World Network (AWN).

Sohn talks about the short film and its influences, John Lasseter's advice for him, the technical aspects of animating the clouds, and whether the matching of the short with Up was intentional or not, just to name a few of the many subjects discussed.

The AWN interview also contains several stills and pieces of concept art from the short, such as the one seen at the top. And be sure to check out the 30-second clip from the short on AWNtv.

The Pixar Treasures

The Pixar Treasures can now be pre-ordered from Amazon.com and other online retailers.

Written by Art of WALL-E and Art of Up author Tim Hauser, 'Treasures' is a hardcover scrapbook of Pixar's history, films and characters, filled with removable keepsakes, in the style of 2003's The Disney Treasures. The official description calls it "an essential collector's item for every Pixar fan."

The Pixar Treasures arrives in bookstores on September 22 and is published by Disney Editions.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

TPB mentioned on NYT website

The Pixar Blog got a big mention on the New York Times website this afternoon, on the newspaper's popular Hollywood blog The Carpetbagger.

New York Times film industry reporter Brooks Barnes, who regularly covers Pixar for the paper, cited my reports (here and here) on Pixar's Emeryville campus expansion, calling TPB the "definitive unofficial chronicler" of the studio.

Hihihihihi.

Aflac/'Up' tie-in ad coming

Aflac! In a press release detailing a new marketing campaign, American supplemental health and life insurance company Aflac announced today that one future commercial starring its lovably grumpy Aflac Duck —Aflac!— "is being produced with the Academy Award-winning Pixar Animation Studios and features characters from the soon-to-be released film, Up."

The New York Times reports that the TV spot will "depict the duck, a balloon in his teeth, floating in the sky with the movie’s main characters." Aflac!

Sounds like a very fun tie-in; the Aflac commercials are already some of my favourites. Disney/Pixar should do more of these.

Aflaaaac!

Monday, April 20, 2009

PG rating for 'Up' [UPDATE]

According to a press material just released by Disney on their publicity website, Up will carry a PG rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

Up is only the second Pixar film (after The Incredibles) to receive the "more mature" PG rating.

Not at all surprised here. You?

----
Update: The Up official website now displays the PG certification mark with the rating reason Some Peril and Action.

Thanks Great Gonzo for pointing this out in comments.

(Updated Apr. 21)

Pixar Phase II expansion cost

Last month, this blog was first with the news of the Phase II expansion of Pixar's Emeryville campus. The exclusive post has gotten thousands of hits in the weeks since and the attention of some major news outlets.

One important detail I was not able to report at the time was the cost of the project. Pixar PR politely declined to comment on the matter. Now a further search of recently filed City of Emeryville documents reveals a substantial portion of the expansion's cost.

According to a city memorandum, the "preliminary material and equipment (M&E) cost of [the] project is approximately $15 million." This figure does not include labour and other associated costs, which undoubtedly run into the many millions of dollars as well.

It is interesting to note that while many companies, including other parts of The Walt Disney Co., are downsizing because of the current economic climate, Pixar is able to proceed with a project of this size. Quality —it's the best business plan.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Toy Story 3 teaser screened

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group president Mark Zoradi premiered what's being referred to as the very first teaser trailer for Toy Story 3 at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) industry convention in Las Vegas, Nevada earlier today.

Variety describes the sneak peak as consisting of "Woody supervising the Toy Story characters as they improvise a sign for the pic, only to have Buzz upstage them all with a high-tech version."

A trailer for 'TS3' —whether this one or not remains to be seen— will play in front of the double feature 3-D re-release of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 out October 2nd.

'Up' score track title discovered

Contained in the description of a forthcoming compilation album of music from Pixar's ten feature films, called Pixar's Greatest Hits (cover pictured; pre-order at DisneyShopping.com), is the title of one of the instrumental tracks from Up. "Memories Can Weigh You Down" -- Score the description reads.

Considering the title and how it should fit in with Up's plot, this has got to be one real tear-jerker sentimental piece of music, and possibly a highlight of Michael Giacchino's score for the film. Up's "Define Dancing" if you will.

Friday, April 17, 2009

'Up' featurette: Kevin: The Undiscovered Species

Disney has released yet another "Inside Up" featurette. Kevin: The Undiscovered Species focuses on the large, flightless female bird (misnamed by Russell) that plays a key role in the movie.

Some exciting new scenes that will surely amaze in 3-D plus we get to see Pete Docter in a shirt and tie, possibly a first :)

Watch it at Disney.com.

New still from 'Partly Cloudy'

Ain't It Cool News (AICN) got their hands on this new still from Pixar's upcoming theatrical short film attached to Up, Partly Cloudy (for a synopsis, go here).

The still gives us our first close-up look at Gus the cloud and his 'loyal baby delivery stork', Peck.

If what we've learned so far is any indication, this may end up being one of Pixar's best shorts.

(via FirstShowing.net)

'Up' featurette: Unlikely Heroes

Another Up featurette, entitled Inside Up: Unlikely Heroes, can now be seen online. Although geared more to those who aren't very familiar with the film's premise, it does contains some brand-new scenes from the movie, and talk by Pete Docter, writer Bob Peterson, and John Lasseter. Check it out below.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Piedmont Ed 'Up' screening

Similar to the Emery Ed charity screening of Up, Pixar's Emeryville headquarters will be the site of another special pre-release Up screening next month, this one benefiting the Piedmont Educational Foundation, which supports schools in the Piedmont, California area.

The screening takes place on Saturday, May 2 at 7:30 PM with the reception beginning at 6:00 PM. Scheduled to be in attendance as hosts are Pete Docter and family. Tickets are $275 each ($250 tax deductible for U.S. residents) and include some light food and wine, a silent auction of limited-edition Up merchandise, and of course, entry to 1200 Park Avenue which is generally strictly off-limits to the general public.

For more info or to purchase tickets —in the S.F. Bay Area you'd be crazy not to— go to this page. Seats, very limited, will be assigned on a first come, first served basis so act fast if you're interested.

(via Upcoming Pixar)

Pete Docter on RadioWest/KUER 90.1 FM

Continuing the theme of Disney/Pixar's publicity push for Up, Pete Docter, director extraordinaire, was in Salt Lake City, Utah today promoting the film.

In the morning, he made a stop at local public radio station KUER 90.1, operated by the University of Utah, to speak with host Doug Fabrizio on the RadioWest program. A great variety of topics were discussed during the 45-minute show.

Listen online at the station's website.

Pixar at FMX 2009

Pixar will be a major exhibitor at FMX/09, the 14th International Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Digital Media, taking place next month (May 5-8) in Stuttgart, Germany, and aimed at industry professionals.

As part of a presentation entitled "RenderMan: Creating the Impossible", guest speakers (to be announced) from the studio "will be on-hand to talk about the making-of Pixar's feature films" and present a "behind-the-scenes look" at the production techniques employed.

A live demonstration of RenderMan for Maya will be used to teach attendees how to incorporate Pixar's RenderMan rendering software in their own 3D animation and special effects work.

The studio will also be holding a special recruiting event hosted by Senior Technical Recruiter Robin McDonald, called "Pixar Career Gears". Prospective applicants will have the opportunity to talk with members of the technical team, including Technical Directors. These recruiting events have been effective in driving the best and brightest talent to Pixar over the years.

Complete details, such as event locations and times, can be found here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

'Up' publicity push underway

With just under 45 days left until Up debuts in North American theatres, the publicity effort for the film is now rapidly gaining momentum.

Last week, Disney PR sent out the invites for the press day at Pixar's Emeryville studios, as well as for the press screenings at The Walt Disney Studios in Burbank taking place early next month.

The first screening of the complete movie (sans credits) for members of the general public happened this past Thursday in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Euan Kerr of Minnesota Public Radio's film blog Movie Natters brings a fine account of the screening of the "at times quite breathtaking" picture, particularly the very heavy security measures that surrounded it.

Other reports are beginning to leak online, on sites like Twitter, and they are, unsurpringly, overwhelmingly postitive. /Film conveys one Twitterer's thoughts: "...Pixar has done it again. I cried like a baby during Up."

Needless to say, this is all very exciting, and hopefully marks the end of the unusual news drought we've been experiencing over the last while.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

International 'Up' trailer + UPisode #3

First up (no pun intended), a new international trailer for Up is now online and embedded above courtesy of Trailer Addict (via CanMag). Similar to the most recent "domestic" theatrical trailer, but with some different scenes edited in and some other changes. British-accented narration would've been nice.

Also fun is a third UPisode vignette just released by Disney. Entitled Snipe Trap, it can now be viewed at AOL Moviefone and has Russell setting up a trap to try and catch the "snipe" that's been bothering Carl.

Outrage at Wall Street doubts about 'Up'

Yesterday, I directed readers briefly to a story in The New York Times about certain Wall Street analysts and toy industry insiders who believe Up will be a commercial failure due to its very original, unconventional, storyline.

The description I provided for the link was "Wall Street idiots doubt Up will succeed". Evidently, others were just as flabbergasted by the ignorance and short-sightedness of the analysts quoted in the story.

In reporting about the article, Lane Brown at New York magazine's entertainment blog Vulture (generally very pro-Pixar) ran the headline "Pixar’s Up Not Commercial Enough, Claim Jerks". References to "blowhards" and "joy haters" followed.

Michael Glitz at The Huffington Post wrote: "...anyone who characterizes Pixar as becoming less and less commercial or anything other than wildly successful on every level is lying or stupid and probably both."

More politely, Sarah Ball at Newsweek's arts and culture blog Pop Vox asked, and stated: "When was the last time you met a kid who hated balloons? Or grandparents? Or movies? About flying? Lighten "Up," guys."

Well said.

Monday, April 6, 2009

'Up' downloads available

Briefly: The previously "coming soon" downloads section of the Up official website is now live. It presents several free Up-themed downloads, such as desktop wallpaper (eight character designs to choose from), buddy icons, printable high-resolution versions of the movie posters, and an exclusive screensaver (Mac and PC).

Assorted links...

Assorted links to some minor, but interesting, stories that emerged in the last few days: