Friday, October 30, 2009

Review: 'Up' on DVD and Blu-ray

With only ten days left until Up arrives in stores on DVD and high-definition Blu-ray Disc on November 10, I received my advance copy of the 4-Disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack (box art pictured above) yesterday. Boy is it cool!

Certainly, naturally, and of course, Up has everything you now expect of a Pixar DVD or Blu-ray release, like fantastic picture and sound, and solid bonus features. The packaging follows closely the pattern of the last few Pixar titles, but what I liked in particular are the simple, charming DVD/Blu-ray menus.

Though not thrilling on its own, the brand-new feature-based short Dug's Special Mission serves as a nice prequel to the "Hi there!" scene in Up where Dug encounters Carl and Russell for the first time.

Really standing out among the extras is the 22-minute-long documentary Adventure is Out There, it chronicles the now-famous research trip taken by the production team to the wilds of South America. Also noteworthy is "The Many Endings of Muntz", an interesting commentary on the various proposed alternate endings for the film's deranged villain.

Further details on the different editions available (1-Disc and 2-Disc DVD and 4-Disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack), like what's included with each, can be found in this post. The 1-Disc DVD should be out of the question for most fans.

For Blu-ray enthusiasts such as myself, Blu-ray.com has a smart review of the Up Blu-ray published today, complete with all the technical stuff. The title receives an basically perfect 5/5 score.

Remember too that Pixar's other Pete Docter-directed masterpiece Monsters, Inc. is finally debuting on Blu-ray on Nov. 10 as well, in a special 4-Disc edition that includes a DVD and digital copy. It's unlikely I'll do a formal review since everything I've written here will surely apply.

Comments please

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Woohoo! [UPDATE]

My review copy of the Up DVD/Blu-ray just shipped and is on its way from WDSHE in Burbank, California! Should be getting it tomorrow or Friday. Woohoo!

Stay tuned for notes on packaging, exclusive short Dug's Special Mission, and much more.
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Update: Got it! Full review tomorrow evening afternoon...

(Updated Oct. 29)

New look for TPB

Following a very slow week for Pixar news, and as the second anniversary of The Pixar Blog approaches, I thought I'd try out a slightly new look for the site by widening the template.

Definitely need everybody's feedback on this (e.g. how does it look on your browser)...

'Up' DVD/Blu-ray preview clips

Enjoy these two preview clips of some the bonus material included on the Up DVD and Blu-ray, out November 10, courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

"Talking dogs"



"Voice of Russell"

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lasseter to receive PGA career award

The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced this hour that Pixar chief John Lasseter will be receiving the David O. Selznick Achievement Award at the Guild's upcoming annual award show, set for January 24, 2010 —a first for an animated film producer.

If you recall, early this year the PGA honored WALL-E producer (now Pixar general manager) Jim Morris with a nomination and win in the animation category for his work on WALL-E.

(via AP)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Clip from Dug's Special Mission

Moviefone has an exclusive short clip from Pixar's upcoming feature-based short film Dug's Special Mission, included with the Up DVD/Blu-ray out November 10.

Watch it here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Jobs assisting with Disney Store redesign

Traditional Disney Store, Square One, Mississauga, ON

The New York Times reports that The Walt Disney Company is working on an exciting major revamp of the Disney Store retail chain and that Pixar co-founder and Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Disney's largest individual shareholder since the acquisition of Pixar, was a prominent voice in the redesign strategy.

Jobs did not concern himself with the minutiae of the redesign process but rather influenced the company's vision—the first time he's done so for any Disney project since he joined the company's Board of Directors in 2006, following years as Pixar's CEO.

"Dream bigger—that was Steve’s message," Disney Consumer Products chairman Andy Mooney says in the piece, written by Brooks Barnes. For example, Jobs insisted that a prototype store be built to work out the concept properly, something most retailers won't do due to cost.

Jobs notably "provided access to proprietary information about the development and operation of Apple’s highly successful stores, and Disney executives visited Apple’s research operation in Cupertino, California." Like his 'lending' of Jonathan Ive to help with the design of EVE for WALL-E, this is very rare for Jobs.

It's a positive sign for fans and shareholders alike to hear that Steve (recently voted 'most admired entrepreneur' by teens) is back at work at Apple and more involved than ever at Disney. He, of course, recently had a liver transplant stemming from his brush with a rare form of pancreatic cancer earlier in the decade.

The New York Times article is filled with details about the new "Imagination Park" concept for the stores.

Recreational activities for kids, computer chip-activated hidden in-store features, touch screens (where parents can book Disney vacations) and even 'themed smells' will all be part of the experience offered to customers.

And borrowing from the unmatched shopping experience offered at Apple Stores worldwide, employees will be equipped with mobile credit/debit machines, resulting in a quicker checkout for guests.

The first of the new stores will open in May of next year in California, New York, and Madrid, Spain. Disney plans to eventually redesign all of its stores in North America and Europe.

(Photo credit: northernpenguin/Waymarking)

Toy Story 3 character poster: Mr. Potato Head

The Mr. Potato Head Toy Story 3 character poster was released yesterday at MSN. Kinda funny...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Unkrich announces double feature extension, new 'TS3' cast members

News explosion!

In a video posted a short while ago on Facebook (still pictured), Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich made big a couple of big announcements for fans.

First, the Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3-D double feature's run in theatres has been extended from its widely-publicized two week limited engagement. No surprise, this almost always happens with "limited" theatrical runs. It does give more people a chance to enjoy the films in this special way, though.

Unkrich also talks 'TS3' casting, revealing that comedian Kristen Schaal will be voicing a currently-unnamed female character, Laurie Metcalf will be back to voice Andy's mom, and Blake Clark is the "old friend" replacing Jim Varney (who died in 2000) in the role of Slinky Dog.

Toy Story 3 trailer online

The spectacular first full-length theatrical trailer for Toy Story 3, previously exclusive to theatres with the Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3-D double feature, has officially arrived on the web, following days of online leaks (of varying quality). The trailer can be seen in Standard Definition and HD at Apple Movie Trailers and embedded below via Trailer Addict.

Everybody is going to have something to say about this, for sure, so be certain to comment and have your opinion heard!

What stands out for me is the animation —it's brilliant. I wasn't expecting such a stark advancement from Toy Story and Toy Story 2. Technically and visually, Toy Story 3 is going to be miles ahead. It's going to be a rollercoaster of a movie, especially in 3-D.

Notice how everything that should be more fluid is, like the human characters and Woody in particular, but within reason so as to not diverge excessively from the look and feel of the first two films. However, a discerning viewer will still be able to recognize a difference.

The trailer also does a good job of explaining the plot without giving away too much. Going off to college is often a sentimental experience for everybody involved so it's good that that was emphasised for audiences. The first half runs on emotion, wonderfully anchored by the Randy Newman melody "Losing You" playing in the background.

If there was an Oscar for Best Motion Picture Trailer of the Year, this trailer would probably be a strong contender. It's certainly one of Pixar's very best, right up there with the second trailer for A Bug's Life, with its epic intro to the sounds of The Who's "Baba O'Reilly".

Expect a second full-length 'TS3' trailer sometime in the first quarter of next year. A good bet would be with Walt Disney Pictures' live-action Alice in Wonderland, out March 5.



Toy Story 3, Pixar's eleventh animated feature film, directed by Lee Unkrich, arrives in North American theatres on June 18, 2010.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Toy Story 3 character poster: Slinky Dog

Another Toy Story 3 character poster, this one with Slinky Dog, was made public today at Ain't It Cool News (AICN). This brings the total number of posters for the film already released to seven.

Toy Story Collection Mr. Potato Head coming soon?

Reader Frank S. kindly pointed me to this listing at Target.com which strongly suggests that a talking Toy Story Collection Mr. Potato Head toy is forthcoming. Same time as the Jessie doll next year, perhaps?

Read up on the Toy Story Collection here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Charles Solomon writing 'Art of Toy Story 3' + Toy Story postcard set

According to the book's Amazon.com page, The Art of Toy Story 3 is being written by animation historian Charles Solomon (with foreword by John Lasseter), replacing Art of Pixar Short Films author Amid Amidi, who made known back in May that he was no longer writing the book as originally announced.

Most recently, Solomon wrote Disney Lost and Found: Exploring the Hidden Artwork from Never-Produced Animation, published by Disney Editions in 2008. He has penned several other animation books, now out of print, and has written for several major publications, including The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and TV Guide.

Publication of The Art of Toy Story 3 by Chronicle Books is currently set for May 1, 2010, according to Amazon, however these dates often change.

Late next month, Chronicle will be releasing The Art of Toy Story (box art pictured at top), a collectible postcard set presenting a hundred full-colour postcards featuring art from the movies, including 'a selection from Toy Story 3'.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Toy Story 3 character posters: Buzz, Jessie, and Woody

The Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, and Woody character posters for Toy Story 3 have now debuted online, at Yahoo! Movies, ComingSoon.net, and Moviefone, respectively.

My favourite of these is definitely the Woody one at top. It's cool and shiny, but retains a classic feel to it because of Woody's cowboy pose. They're all very nice, in fact.

This post replaces the post previously at this URL which featured only the Buzz poster.

Special reminder [UPDATE]

There's less than a week left for the Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3-D double feature. Thursday, October 15 is your last chance to catch these two amazing movies on the big screen.

Don't miss out!
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Update: Good news for those of you who still haven't had a chance to see the double feature but want to, its run in theatres has been extended for an unspecified amount of time.

(Updated October 13)

Toy Story 3 character poster: Hamm

A second character poster for Toy Story 3 hit the web today at /Film, featuring Hamm, as you can see.

Unlike yesterday's one with Rex and the very smart '3' poster, I didn't like this one much. The '3' is placed too awkwardly at the top; it just doesn't work for me.

Pixar mentioned on The Office

In case you missed it, last night's special episode (i.e. Jim and Pam get married) of NBC's The Office (one of my favourite shows) had a hilarious scene where clueless boss Michael Scott tries to pick up an attractive female at the wedding by discussing his need to cry during Pixar movies.

Question: Should I reveal my love of "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" to a prospective date?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Toy Story 3 character poster: Rex

This brand-new character poster for Toy Story 3, featuring fearsome dinosaur Rex, arrived on the web this evening at the Trailer Park MySpace blog and to my attention via Lee Unkrich (@leeunkrich on Twitter). Expect to see similar posters for each of the main characters soon.

This, of course, is the second poster for the film we've seen in recent weeks. Last month's minimalist teaser poster resulted in a bit of controversy in comments. In both posters, I love the use of only the '3', with the film's title omitted, as a tease.

By the way, in the same tweet Unkrich says that the new Toy Story 3 trailer (playing in cinemas with the Toy Story/Toy Story 2 double feature) will make its online debut Monday.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rich Ross new Walt Disney Studios chairman

Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger named Rich Ross as the new Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios earlier today, replacing longtime boss Dick Cook who resigned suddenly last month amid rumours he was fired.

Ross has worked for Disney for thirteen years, the last five of which he served as President of Disney Channels Worldwide (read his official bio there).

The New York Times' Media Decoder blog points out in an in-depth post on appointment that Pixar creative chief John Lasseter "is a fan" of Ross and worked closely with him on the Cars Toons series of shorts shown on the Disney Channel.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

'TS/TS2' No. 3 at box office, makes $12.5M

Briefly: The Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3-D double feature, playing at 1,745 digital 3-D-equipped screens in the U.S. and Canada, placed third at the North American box office over the weekend, having earned an estimated $12.5 million dollars since opening on Friday.

(Source: Box Office Mojo)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pixar expansion construction photos (Oct. 2009)

It's been nearly five months since we got our first pictures of the contruction work going on at Pixar on the Phase II expansion of the Emeryville, California campus. The building appears to be progressing well, as can be seen in this new set of photos taken on Thursday.

Very special thanks to Christine Free for the pictures

Friday, October 2, 2009

Thoughts on Toy Story/Toy Story 2 double feature

This afternoon I enjoyed the first showing of the Toy Story/Toy Story 2 double feature in Disney Digital 3-D at the local multiplex, coincidentally the same theatre I saw Toy Story 2 in ten years ago, which somehow seems a little bit like last week in my mind.

Not having seen the films in the longest time (in anticipation of the re-release), I was struck by how simple and yet mature the stories are, almost like I had never seen them before. Pixar's been doing it since the very beginning indeed. And re-rendered, both films looked just as good as they had been made this year.

I had to work afterwards, but the movies stuck with me. To my amusement/horror, I found myself humming "When She Loved Me" from '2'. The emotional punch that scene packs is still incredible after all these years, and especially so.

The overall experience of seeing both these classic films in 3-D, on the big screen, back-to-back, was naturally wonderful. The 3-hour runtime was a huge treat, in fact. This, of course, will be the last chance for the public to experience these films in this way for a very long time, maybe forever.

Really, the only thing I didn't like was that at the screening I went to they played the Toy Story 3 teaser rather than the new trailer we've been waiting months to see. Ahh!!! Oh well, at least I have something to look forward to for the week after next.

If Toy Story/Toy Story 2 in 3-D meets with box office success, expect to see digital 3-D re-releases of Pixar's other classics announced. Hollywood trade publication Variety is calling the double feature a "testing ground for Disney's back catalog getting the 3D treatment."

Until then, it's on to Toy Story 3, which those involved say will be just as enjoyable and "startling" as the first two films. To infinity and beyond!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

'TS3' trailer exclusive to theatres for two weeks

Lee Unkrich revealed on Twitter a few hours ago that the much-talked-about new Toy Story 3 trailer attached to the Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3-D double feature will be exclusive to the double feature during its two-week theatrical run. That means it won't be online until October 16.

Great marketing strategy by Disney...

Buzz and Woody remind you to recycle your 3-D glasses!

With every showing of the Toy Story/Toy Story 2 3-D double feature, audiences will be shown a humorous short vignette featuring Buzz and Woody in "the third dimension", complete with an exaggerated 3-D effect. Its real purpose is to remind theatregoers to recycle their 3-D glasses.

The vignette can be viewed online today at Apple Trailers, where it serves as a sort of promo for the double feature, although it confusingly bears the Toy Story 3 logo at the end.