Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New 'TS3' character: Chatter Telephone

Head over to Cartoon Brew for the debut of Chatter Telephone. The character is voiced by Pixar artist and Day & Night director Teddy Newton.

Exclusive: New 'TS3' character Chunk

Yours truly is pleased to share the exclusive official character debut of Chunk, one of the fourteen new characters appearing in Toy Story 3, courtesy of Disney/Pixar.

You've probably already spotted Chunk in the trailer. Now enjoy the poster, 360 degree turn video (available in HD), and descriptive blurb for the toy.
"Chunk will rock your world! This gargantuan creature sports protective shoulder spikes, while his ferocious fists are ready to smash whatever enemy gets in his way. Chunk’s oversized limbs are fully poseable, making him ready for hours of imaginative fun. As an added bonus, the press of a hidden head spike will spin Chunk's facial expression from friendly to fierce! No batteries necessary."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Toy Story 3: Special Cliffhanger Edition screenings

Starting next month and going into May, Disney/Pixar will be screening the first 65 minutes of Toy Story 3 exclusively to college and university students across the U.S.A. The cut is being called the Special Cliffhanger Edition and will be shown at theatres near over 80 select schools in 22 states.

Details are up on Facebook, where three unusual themed teasers put together to promote the screenings can now be seen (reload page to watch each one).

Valid school ID will be required for admission; no recording devices will be permitted (including cell phones); and seating is strictly first come, first serve. You may, however, RSVP for the event and invite friends to share in the fun.

Love it. Can't even begin to go into why it's such a smart marketing strategy all around.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Woohoo, I'm going to Pixar!

Last week, I received a very special invitation from Pixar to travel to the San Francisco Bay Area to visit the studios in Emeryville (generally closed to the public) for two days of fun and excitement!

Needless to say, I'm thrilled out of my mind. As a fan, visiting Pixar has been a dream of mine for a very long time. Gonna geek out BAD!! I greatly appreciate the fact that Pixar invited me for this.

I'll be leaving for San Francisco on Wednesday morning. That afternoon, Greg from Pixar Talk, Martin from Upcoming Pixar, and myself will be treated to a “special tour” of 1200 Park Avenue (it better include the Renderfarm!) and more. Looking forward to meeting both of them in person, too.

Then on Thursday, April 1 I'll be back at the studios for a variety of presentations on 'TS3' and an opportunity to chat with director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson. I head back to Toronto on Friday.

Well, that's about all I can say right now. You probably won't see much new here March 31 to Apr. 2, but be sure to follow @The_Pixar_Blog on Twitter for updates.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New 'TS3' characters: Mr. Pricklepants and Dolly

A pair of new Toy Story 3 character/toy profiles hit U.K.-based film site HeyUGuys today. It's Mr. Pricklepants (we've seen him before, he's voiced by Timothy Dalton), and cute as a button rag doll Dolly (voice of Bonnie Hunt) .

Mr. Pricklepants, says the official description, is made in Germany. And you know the Germans always make good stuff, to quote the crude pitchman from the ShamWow commercials.

Dolly is intended to be subjected to amateur fashion designers. She comes with templates to create and sew new outfits for her. It seems that's what she's wearing in the poster.

All these characters are going to play out great on screen...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Toy Story & Toy Story 2 on Blu-ray

Tomorrow marks the arrival of Pixar's Toy Story and Toy Story 2 on the next-generation, high-definition Blu-ray Disc (BD) format. The two animated classics are being sold in Special Edition Combo Packs that include an additional DVD copy of the films as well.

Unfortunately, I won't be publishing my own review, as I did not, for some reason, receive review copies in time to do so despite repeated requests. But I'm still very excited about enjoying the movies in hi def, with assuredly impeccable 1080p video and crystal clear 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. I'll be picking them up from the store as soon as I have the chance.

Both titles are packed with new bonus material and include the "classic" extras from previous DVD releases as well. Each BD features a special sneak peek at Toy Story 3.

One of many websites with rave reviews, Blu-ray.com (an independent site not affiliated with the Blu-ray Disc Association) has got a solid appraisal of each title aimed at format enthusiasts. Both discs get an essentially perfect score of 4.5 out of 5, as all previous Pixar BDs have achieved.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Toy Story 3 theatre standee

Steve Weintraub at Collider spotted this undeniably cool Toy Story 3 theatre standee display at ShoWest last night. These should be coming soon to a multiplex near you. Head over to Collider for a few close-ups.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Toy Story 3 a big hit at ShoWest

A nearly-finished cut of Toy Story 3 was screened for film distribution/exhibition industry insiders at the ShoWest 2010 trade show/expo in fabulous Las Vegas earlier today.

The 2-D screening featured a temporary score and 85% finished animation. It was introduced by director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla Anderson following John Lasseter's acceptance of a special award from ShoWest celebrating Pixar's ten commercially successful films to date.

Notwithstanding some inconsequential criticisms, the consensus from attendees on Toy Story 3 is clear: Pixar has created another feature masterpiece, an eleventh classic.

Some quotes from the various reports out there:
  • Entertainment Weekly "This might be one you sneak off to see with your spouse after you’ve watched it once with the kids."
  • Jim Hill Media "For starters, you should bring Kleenex. Lots & lots of Kleenex. Because I can guarantee you that you’re going to spend a good portion of the last 30 minutes of this film in tears."
  • ComingSoon.net "Like the best Pixar movies, it's consistently funny, exciting and moving, sometimes all three at the same time... Toy Story 3 is the type of movie that I could definitely see again right away..."
  • Cinema Blend "Toy Story 3 fits perfectly in line with the Pixar legacy, and almost definitely represents the 11th hit in a row for the remarkable studio ...I guarantee you will enjoy this film."
Most of the reports above mention audience members crying during the screening, particularly during the final half hour. Jim Hill expands on this, writing:
"I sat in that hall today surrounded by hardened industry professionals. Exhibitors who care more about how much popcorn & soda they’re selling than the movies they’re currently showing at their multiplexes. And these jaded theater owners – as “Toy Story 3” entered the home stretch – were openly weeping. Tears streaming down hundreds of faces..."
Twitter was also abuzz with positive thoughts on the movie:
  • @colliderfrosty "Toy Story 3 continues pixars [sic] streak of brilliance. Last 20 or 30 minutes wrecked me."
  • @firstshowing "Toy Story 3 was wonderful, so much fun and heartwarming, too! Pixar at their best as always."
  • @slashfilm "Toy Story 3 was great, last 30 minutes were pure brillance [sic]."
Short film Day & Night, attached to 'TS3', was very well-received as well. It was screened in 3-D using the latest in digital projectors. Screen Crave calls it "truly amazing" while noting its simplicity.

Understandably, plot details of both feature and short are not being made public. Anderson and Unkrich specifically asked audience members not to do so, while encouraging them to get the word out about Toy Story 3.

The Bear and the Bow retitled 'Brave'? [UPDATE: More trademarks registered]

Last May, we learned that Pete Docter was referring to Pixar's upcoming The Bear and the Bow, slated for release late in 2011, when he mentioned "Brave" to a reporter. "Brave", a highly-trusted source clarified, is the internal studio nickname for the film.

But today, almost a year later, Stitch Kingdom found that Disney Enterprises, Inc., responsible for Pixar trademarks, submitted a "flurry" of fourteen applications to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) this past Thursday, March 11 for the trademark to the word BRAVE, "without claim to any particular font, style, size, or color." An example can be seen here.

Stitch Kingdom also points out that Disney registered the domain names brave-movie.com (WHOIS, name server is dig.com) and bravethemove.com (WHOIS) in October of last year.

So everything points to a retitling of The Bear and the Bow as Brave. Because studios don't register trademarks and domains for internal names of films.

I wasn't a fan of the title The Bear and the Bow ("hate the title", I said at the time; I have changed my outlook on the movie itself) but I'm no fan of changing titles mid-production either, after a title has already been announced and a logo shown. Walt Disney Animation Studios recently changed the name of their upcoming feature Rapunzel to the less princess-like Tangled, in an effort to appeal to boys, a move that has generated a lot of controversy.

As often happens, guess we'll have to wait and see whether a change takes place. Or maybe —what if The Bear and the Bow was never intended to be the film's name to begin with?
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Update: A new batch of fourteen trademark registrations went just live on the USPTO site. (See example.) Filed on March 12, they cover the same ground as the previous fourteen but are for the mark DISNEY PIXAR BRAVE, in the style of previous Pixar trademarks like DISNEY PIXAR UP (example). It must be noted that no registrations for the title The Bear and the Bow appear to have been filed by Disney/Pixar.

Well, what more do we need? It's almost a sure thing. I think we'll be getting official confirmation about the title change soon, possibly along with the new logo.

(Updated Mar. 17)

Dolby to debut new audio format with Toy Story 3

At ShoWest in Las Vegas today, Dolby Laboratories announced a partnership with Pixar and Walt Disney Pictures to deliver a new audio format, Dolby Surround 7.1, in select theatres with the release of Toy Story 3 on June 18.

Says the press release: "Dolby Surround 7.1 brings a more exciting sensory experience to audiences for 2-D and gives content creators control over audio placement in a theatre when mixing 3-D movies. The ability to compose audio with visual elements of 3-D allows content creators to immerse the audience deeper into the movie with dramatic realism."

Dolby is demonstrating the format at the trade show using a demo reel of clips from past Pixar movies featuring the discrete 7.1 mix. But Toy Story 3 will be the first-ever feature released with a sound track mixed in this advanced format.

ShoWest is of course the site of the earliest screening of '3' and attached short film Day & Night. Reports from the screening, set for 11:15 AM local time (minutes away at time of publishing), are sure to emerge later on in the day, so stay tuned.

New 'TS3' character: Sparks

LatinoReview got the exclusive first look at toy robot Sparks, appearing in Toy Story 3.

Head over to this page at the site for the 360° video of the character, where you can really see the sparking action, and for the toy description.

Not sure whether a real-life toy of this character will be made, but if it is, it'll be a big seller. What kid doesn't want a robot as cool as Sparks?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Toy Story 3 soundtrack getting CD release [2 UPDATES]

The soundtrack to Toy Story 3 will be released on audio CD by Walt Disney Records, unlike the Up soundtrack which was made available last year only as a download a very unpopular decision with Pixar and soundtrack fans.

The album, featuring new music written by singer/songwriter/composer Randy Newman for the third film in the Toy Story series, is already listed at Amazon.com and can be pre-ordered there. Cover artwork is still under wraps. Shipping date is June 15.

I know many of you are going to be super happy about this, as I am.
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Update: Maybe not. The album has been delisted from Amazon. Read BookPodder's comments for additional details.
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Update: Definitely not. See here.

(Updated May 26)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Toy Story 3 at WonderCon 2010

Director Lee Unkrich will be on hand to 'share a few stories' and introduce new footage from Toy Story 3 at WonderCon next month. The half-hour event takes place Saturday, April 3 at 1:15 PM inside the venue's Esplanade Hall.

WonderCon 2010 runs from April 2 to 4 at the Moscone Center (South) in San Francisco.

Toy Story 3 short: 'Day & Night' [UPDATE]

After weeks of speculation, rumour, and hearsay, Pixar at last made public details of the short film the will accompany Toy Story 3 in theatres, and it's probably not what you thought.

Released at ComingSoon.net along with the film's title card, the official synopsis of Day & Night reads:
When Day, a sunny fellow, encounters Night, a stranger of distinctly darker moods, sparks fly! Day and Night are frightened and suspicious of each other at first, and quickly get off on the wrong foot. But as they discover each other's unique qualities--and come to realize that each of them offers a different window onto the same world--the friendship helps both to gain a new perspective.
A simple concept, with great comic potential. Exactly what's made previous Pixar shorts so enjoyable.

Day & Night is being directed by artist and character designer Teddy Newton. This is his directorial debut at Pixar. Studio veteran Kevin Reher is producing (he previously produced A Bug's Life and Partly Cloudy). Music will be by Michael Giacchino, a man who needs no introduction to Pixar fans. We'll be learning lots more about the short in the coming weeks, for sure, as June 18 rapidly approaches.

To point out the obvious, Day & Night (previously rumoured as "Night and Day") is not the boy/dinosaur project, as I previously theorized. Hmmm... This seriously raises the possibility that 'boy/dinosaur' is a feature in production, not a short at all. It could be Pete Docter's secret 2013/2014 feature project, with Greg Dykstra as co-director.
----
Update: We're already getting new details regarding Day & Night.

Up art director Don Shank writes on his blog Shank Pile: "I am very excited that the public will finally get to see it because it's unlike anything Pixar has produced before." Shank served as production designer on the short film; he calls his experience "one of the best times I’ve ever had working on anything".

Pixar Talk points to a comment posted on Cartoon Brew, written by the site's own Jerry Beck, animation historian, that claims that "the images “inside” the characters will be CG, but Day and Night is essentially a 2D short. The character animation is all hand drawn."

A reasonable theory, when you consider Shank's comment and the 2D title card that has raised so much speculation about whether the short will be traditionally animated. Makes sense. This should look awesome on screen in stereoscopic 3-D.

(Updated at 8:51 PM)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Exclusive 'Up' Oscar night photo

The nice folks at Pixar worldwide publicity just sent me this funny, never-before-published picture of Jonas Rivera, Pete Docter, Michael Giacchino, and Bob Peterson celebrating on Sunday night following Up's two Academy Award wins, for Best Animated Feature Film of the year and Best Original Score.

Can't help but laugh when I see the face Docter is making...

International Toy Story 3 poster

A new international one-sheet poster for Toy Story 3 showed up at Empire this morning. While director Lee Unkrich has said that this poster is the final one, that would refer to domestic posters only. This one-sheet is targeted at English-speaking international markets, particularly the U.K. (the film opens there on July 23).

I personally like the design of this one. It's completely different from all the other 'TS3' posters we've seen. A nice play on words with "Breakout Comedy of the Summer" since the toys are pictured having broken out of the box.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New 'TS3' character: Stretch

Stretch the octopus from Toy Story 3 officially debuted this afternoon. Not certain who got the first look, but it seems its Dutch animation website Animatie.

Here's the official description of the character, voiced by Whoopi Goldberg:
Stretch is a fun-loving under-the-sea octopus friend that shines in glittery purple. Kids can count her eight rubbery legs and dozens of sticky suckers that are sure to stand up to rough-and-tumble play and extreme stretching. Toss her high on the wall and watch her climb her way down! Clean in mild soap solution to remove dust and lint.

Monday, March 8, 2010

UP at the 82nd Academy Awards; wins two Oscars

Credit: Michael Yada/©A.M.P.A.S.

It was a very good night for Pixar at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards on Sunday. Most of the senior studio team (even including co-founder Steve Jobs) was in attendance at the world-famous Kodak Theatre in the heart of Hollywood, where Pixar's critically-acclaimed tenth feature film, Up, was nominated in five categories by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.):
  • Best Picture (Jonas Rivera, producer)
  • Best Animated Feature Film (Pete Docter, director)
  • Original Screenplay (Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, and Tom McCarthy)
  • Original Score (Michael Giacchino)
  • Sound Editing (Michael Silvers and Tom Myers)
Up took home two Academy Awards, for Best Animated Feature Film and Original Score, to thunderous audience applause. This is the third year in a row that a Pixar film has won in the animation category, following Ratatouille and WALL-E.

Credit: Matt Petit/©A.M.P.A.S.

Accepting the Best Animated Feature Film statuette, Pete Docter (pictured above) said:
"Boy, never did I dream that making a flip book out of my third grade math book would lead to this. Boy. It's incredible being here, it's just me right now, but please picture this whole stage full of the most amazing cast and crew you've ever experienced. Jonas Rivera, producer. Bob Peterson, co-director. You guys should all be up here with me. Thanks so much to Disney and to Pixar Animation Studios for believing in this oddball film.

"It was an incredible, incredible adventure making this movie, but the heart of it came from home. And to our families, in my case, to my wonderful parents, they were so supportive. My kids, Nicholas and Ellie, and my amazing wife Amanda, you guys are the greatest adventure. Thank you."
As Docter finished up his speech, his wife Amanda was visibly emotional as she sat in the audience.

Credit: Michael Yada/©A.M.P.A.S.

Later on in the evening, to no one's surprise, Up composer Michael Giacchino received the Oscar for best Original Score for his incredible music for the film. This was his second Academy Award nomination (his first was for Ratatouille) and first win.

In what Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich tweeted was the "classiest speech of the evening", Giacchino shared a personal message with the audience and everyone watching at home:
"Thank you, guys. When I was... I was nine and I asked my dad, "Can I have your movie camera? That old, wind-up 8 millimeter camera that was in your drawer?" And he goes, "Sure, take it." And I took it and I started making movies with it and I started being as creative as I could, and never once in my life did my parents ever say, "What you're doing is a waste of time." Never.
"And I grew up, I had teachers, I had colleagues, I had people that I worked with all through my life who always told me what you're doing is not a waste of time. So that was normal to me that it was OK to do that.
"I know there are kids out there that don't have that support system so if you're out there and you're listening, listen to me: If you want to be creative, get out there and do it. It's not a waste of time. Do it. OK? Thank you. Thank you."
With Giacchino's heartfelt speech, Pixar's showing at the ceremony essentially came to an end. Five nominations, including Best Picture. Two wins.

Congratulations to Pete Docter, Jonas Rivera, Bob Peterson, Michael Giacchino, the entire Up cast and crew, and everyone at Pixar and The Walt Disney Studios who lent their talents to the making of Up.

Credit: Darren Decker/©A.M.P.A.S.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Jonas Rivera talks to the SF Chronicle

The San Francisco Chronicle online brings us two new pre-Oscar interviews with Up producer Jonas Rivera.

In the first, Rivera talks a lot about his start at Pixar in 1994. Having joined the studio as its first production intern during the making of Toy Story, he reminisces about what the studio was like back then. Also, what will he be wearing to tomorrow's Academy Awards ceremony?

The second, posted on the Chronicle's baby blog The Poop, is specifically "parenting-focused". Rivera talks about his two daughters, favourite family-friendly and "date night" restaurants, and what flavour ice cream he usually orders at Fentons Creamery and Restaurant, the Pixarian-favourite ice cream parlour and eatery featured in Up.

Academy Awards coverage details

Tomorrow evening, for the 82nd time in its history, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be hosting the Academy Awards, recognizing the best motion pictures of 2009.

This year's Oscar ceremony begins at 8:30 PM ET/5 PT (pre-show begins half hour earlier) and will be telecast live on ABC in the United States, CTV in Canada, and on dozens of television stations around the globe to an audience of millions. (Check local listings for broadcast information.)

With Up in the running for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Animated Feature, Sunday will be a big day for everybody at Pixar. Much of the studio's "brain trust" will be at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood for the show.

Starting at 8ET/5PT, I'll be live-tweeting Pixarian red carpet sightings and interviews on Twitter.com/The_Pixar_Blog. Once the ceremony gets under way, stay tuned for tweets on category wins (and losses), and anything else of note. If you're still not following @The_Pixar_Blog, and I know many readers still aren't, now would be a good time to do so, especially if you're going to be away from the telecast.

As soon as possible after the show ends, I'll have one great big blog post here recapping the night's events, complete with pictures, acceptance speech transcripts, and possibly some video; so don't forget to check back.

Disney registers domain for Toy Story shorts

Stitch Kingdom has discovered that Disney registered yesterday the domain name toystorytoons.com, suggesting that a new series of short films starring the characters of Toy Story, and similar in style to the Cars Toons series, is closer than might have previously been thought.

At first glance, a WHOIS search on the domain indicates a private registration, but the listed name server is dig.com, used on confirmed Disney registrations and registered to Disney Enterprises, Inc. DIG is short for Disney Internet Group and the dig.com address redirects to the Disney corporate website.

When announcing Pixar's Canadian branch last May, a series of Toy Story shorts was strongly hinted at. Pixar general manager Jim Morris told The Hollywood Reporter:
"We have a somewhat unfulfilled demand. We wanted to do various things with Toy Story to keep the characters alive. People like to see them somewhat regularly."
The express focus of Pixar Canada, as stated on the studio website, "is to produce animated shorts and television specials featuring characters from Pixar's prior films".

Considering all available information, the first "Toy Story Toons" should begin to roll out sometime in 2011, well after the home video release of Toy Story 3 this Fall.

Are you thrilled at the prospect of a Toy Story short series? What format would you like to see it to take (TV/cable, web, theatrical)? What other Pixar characters should get their own shorts in the future?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Final Toy Story 3 poster

This wonderful final one-sheet poster for Toy Story 3, featuring all the main characters from the movie, was revealed at Yahoo! Movies a few minutes ago. Haven't found a hi-res version yet, but you can click to see larger.

Except for the human kid, it looks like the toys are in a toy box looking up. Really cool. Almost as cool as the '3' poster :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Toy Story 3 exhibit at Magic of Disney Animation

Visitors to at The Magic of Disney Animation attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park can now take in a new exhibit showing off some of the beautiful art created during production on Toy Story 3, as well as the first two Toy Story films.

WDWNewsToday shares several photographs of the display in this photo report, which includes dozens of other pics from all around Walt Disney World in Florida. The picture at top gives you a broad view of part of the Toy Story 3 section; you have to check out the close-ups for a better look. And there's a lot that's out of this frame too.

Like last year's Up display, showcased are concept art pieces (including these), storyboards, colourful maquettes, and rendered character images —a lot of the cool stuff we'll be seeing in The Art of Toy Story 3 book to be published in May. But my favourite items are those that seem to have been made especially for the exhibit, like the boxes marked "COLLEGE" and "SUNNYSIDE".

Everything considered, this is yet another interesting attraction to enjoy if you're visiting Disney World in the next few months.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New 'TS3' character: Twitch

Every Tuesday for the past few weeks, Disney/Pixar have been giving one of the new toy characters from Toy Story 3 an official debut at a different entertainment/movie website.

Today it's Twitch, the grasshopper-like "insectaloid warrior" with the muscles to impress Mrs. Potato Head (watch the trailer). Oooh!

/Film has the poster, 360° view, and the character blurb for readers to take a look at.

One question, though: Isn't the word "insectoid" not "insectaloid"? Just askin'.