Friday, December 31, 2010

Exclusive: Plot of Toy Story Hawaii short leaked

Amazon.com is listing a new children's book, "Toy Story Toon Pictureback", to be published by Random House/Disney on August 9. The publishers' description of the book (since removed) reveals that it is based on Pixar's forthcoming Hawaii-centric Toy Story toon and provides a good synopsis of the short's plot.
Bonnie is off to Hawaii, and Barbie and Ken are excited to go along on their first tropical vacation! But when they're accidentally left behind, it's up to Buzz, Woody, and the rest of the toys to create a Hawaiian paradise right in Bonnie's room.

Based on the latest animated short featuring the toys from Disney/Pixar Toy Story, this full-color storybook includes punch-out postcards that girls and boys ages 3-7 will love sending to their friends!
So the toys aren't actually travelling to the Aloha State! Oh, well.

An August publication date is further evidence that this will be the Toy Story short attached to Cars 2 on June 24. Earlier this year, the Day & Night picture book was published around the same time in August, after the short had debuted with Toy Story 3 in June.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

No chance of Oscar for 'TS3' score

Randy Newman during a Toy Story 3 scoring session in 2009.
Photo by Deborah Coleman/Pixar.

Toy Story 3's original score is not among the seventy-seven scores that qualified for consideration in the Original Score category at the upcoming 83rd Academy Awards.

According to Variety, Disney chose not to enter the score, composed by Randy Newman, in order to focus on the Original Song category with "We Belong Together".

Newman's score fit perfectly with the film (and the series as a whole) and is a joy to listen to on its own, but this just wasn't Pixar's year to dominate the category.

While the music itself is original, Academy members may have been inclined to dismiss the score as being an extension of Newman's previous work on Toy Story and Toy Story 2.

So a smart move by Disney in reaching for a much-deserved nomination for "We Belong Together".

Agree?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Toy Story 3 tops RT editors list

The editors of movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes have published a list of their favourite films of 2010. At the very top is Toy Story 3, selected by editor-in-chief Matt Atchity.

Toy Story 3 is the best reviewed picture of the year on RT, at 99% "Fresh" (100% among Top Critics). Rotten Tomatoes is thus set to recognize the film with its Golden Tomato Award sometime next month.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

USPS to release Pixar character stamps

Briefly: As part of its 2011 commemorative stamp program, the United States Postal Service (USPS) will release five stamps featuring characters from Pixar's Cars, Ratatouille, Toy Story, Up, and WALL-E.

The stamps will go on sale August 19, in a 20-stamp pane, and are marked as valid "Forever".

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Twelve 'TS3' For Your Consideration ads revealed

Eleven never-before-seen For Your Consideration ads for Toy Story 3 have been revealed on the Walt Disney Studios Awards website. Additionally, Italian-language movie blog Badtaste.it has discovered a twelfth, bringing the total number of ads in the "Not Since..." series to fifteen so far.

As you can see, some of these bring attention to the genuinely dramatic, tense aspects of the film, while others do not. "Not Since The Sound of Music..." may be the funniest FYC ad ever to appear in a Hollywood trade weekly.

Visit the Disney Awards website to view the ads and read up on the campaign. And don't forget to leave your comments below.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Pixar news roundup (12/24/10)

  • What type of mic does Pixar use to record voice talent? What kind of clay do they use for character sculptures? [Formspring*]
  • Character modeling/articulation artist Brian Tindall has a hard time explaining his profession [MLive.com]
  • Toy Story 3 is "the film of 2010 by many a mile" [Mirror.co.uk]
  • 'TS3' tops Moviefone's 50 Best Movies of 2010 list [Moviefone]
  • Buzz Lightyear enters The Grid (pictured) [HeyUGuys]

*Only 7 days left to submit your questions at Formspring.me/ThePixarBlog.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Toy Story 3 FYC ad: Not since Titanic...

A striking For Your Consideration ad for Toy Story 3, with the tagline "Not since Titanic..."

This ad appeared in Variety on December 13, but didn't make its way online until today.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A sample question from Formspring

I've answered over 30 Pixar- and blog-related questions on Formspring since Saturday. Please keep them coming; I really appreciate all of them.

Here's one from yesterday a lot of folks have been asking.
Historically Pixar was not that interested in making sequels to their franchises. Why has this clearly changed?

The popular view is that it's the work of the "suits" at Disney. Of course, sequels make sense financially, but there's a lot more to it.

I think the Brain Trust realized that:

1. There are more stories to be told with the characters

2. Audiences show up in droves to sequels because they want to experience new adventures with familiar characters, but are often disappointed

3. Pixar is the only animation studio that has done sequels right in the past

4. Quality can be maintained the same way as for original projects, if sequels are driven by creativity

But unlike DreamWorks, which publicly announced five Kung Fu Panda sequels, Pixar is not making every film into a series. So no WALL-E 4.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Toy Story gang headed to Hawaii?

Veteran cartoonist and Disney Legend Floyd Norman let it slip on Twitter that he's seen a new Pixar short film set in (or themed around) Hawaii, starring Ken and Barbie from Toy Story 3.

On Friday, he wrote simply:
"Saw the Pixar "Hawaii" short. Cute."
Last night he elaborated:
"Ken and Barbie want to go to Hawaii. I don't know what it's gonna be attached to. Fun stuff, however."
Based on earlier forum chatter, Upcoming Pixar reports that the short may be entitled Dream Vacation. This may very well be the Toy Story short set to be attached to Cars 2.

I'm not sure what Floyd's current status at Disney is, but he stays in the know. In February, he was the first to mention publicly that Newt had been shelved—three months before it was confirmed.

So it's likely we'll be learning more about this short soon. Such a different setting for the toys is a wonderful idea.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Pixar Blog on Formspring

Taking a cue from Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich, I've joined the question-answering website Formspring.me.

For a limited time (until Dec. 31, to be precise), I'll be taking your Pixar-related queries and the blog at formspring.me/thepixarblog. Feel free to ask anything related to Pixar's films, studio history, etc.

I'll try to answer questions as many as possible. If I don't know the answer to one, I'll research it so you don't have to!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Toy Story 3 success infographic

This type of story doesn't usually form part of my Pixar coverage, but here's a cool infographic that breaks down the critical and commercial success of Toy Story 3.

Click to expand.

"We Belong Together" contends for Oscar nomination

Randy Newman's "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3 is among the 41 eligible songs accepted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for competition in the Original Song category at the 83rd Academy Awards.

On January 6, the Academy will screen clips featuring each song for voting members of the Music Branch (those unable to attend will be sent a DVD screener). Members will then choose up to five nominees using an averaged point system vote.

The Academy announces its nominations on Jan. 25. The 83rd Annual Academy Awards ceremony takes place just over a month later, on February 27.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Toy Story 3 nominated for Golden Globe

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) announced this morning nominations for the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards. Toy Story 3 was nominated in a single category—Best Animated Feature Film.

The HFPA really made some puzzling, downright insane choices this year. The most egregious example is in the Best Motion Picture—Comedy Or Musical category.

Toy Story 2 took home the prize in 1999, and Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles were all nominated in their respective years. But this year two universally panned movies got the nod instead of 'TS3'.

Today's nominations were derided the world over, from film critics like Peter Howell of the Toronto Star mocking the "farcical" nature of this year's nominations to Hollywood insider Nikki Finke calling the Globes "a completely meaningless awards show by a scandal-riddled organization".

The Golden Globes presentation is set to take place on Sunday, January 16 at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT. It will be telecast live on NBC in the United States.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Toy Story 3 one of AFI's top 10

The American Film Institute (AFI) has named Toy Story 3 as one its ten Official Selections for the 2010 AFI Awards.

The group will host a luncheon on January 14 to honour the selected films.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Corliss: 'TS3' is best film, won't win Best Picture

One day after naming Toy Story 3 as the best film of 2010, TIME movie critic Richard Corliss says he does "not think the film will win the Oscar for Best Picture".

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Corliss shares his reason: the ugly, longstanding A.M.P.A.S. bias against animated films.
"The Academy membership has never believed animated features deserve to be rewarded with the top Oscar, any more than documentaries or foreign-language films," he says in part.
"I'm flattered to be told my designating Toy Story 3 as the year's best movie would spur members to vote for it—except that two years ago I put WALL-E in the same top slot. Didn't mean a thing."
(Last year, Corliss named WALL-E the best movie of the decade.)

Read Corliss' complete comments on THR's The Race blog.

Woody cameo on The Office

Caution: this post contains "spoilers"

Sheriff Woody made an appearance on last night's two-part episode of The Office, entitled "Classy Christmas". HR rep Holly Flax returns to the Scranton branch, bringing with her a Woody doll.

Michael Scott is ecstatic—he loves Toy Story, Andy's mom is his favourite character—until he finds out that Woody was a gift from Holly's boyfriend A.J. Distraught, Michael dumps Woody into the trash when nobody's looking, then pours coffee on him.

Holly discovers it soon enough and confronts the office with an angry "Who did this?". When no one fesses up, Kevin Malone offers his brilliant theory:
"Wait guys, listen, Toy Story is all about toys that come to life when people aren't looking. You don’t think—it’s not possible—that Woody did this to himself?"
Suspicion soon falls on Michael.

Pixar movies have been referenced in previous Office episodes but yesterday's episode marks the first time a Pixar character has actually appeared. Not surprising, since there are many hoops writers must jump through before they can use a character from another franchise on a scripted show.

How exactly Woody's part in the episode was worked out isn't clear, but Mindy Kaling, who plays Kelly Kapoor, is known for being a big Pixar fan, as are many of the other cast members. In October, she wrote a "Dear Pixar" tweet asking to use "a doll of one of your most amazing characters" in this episode.

Besides Woody's cameo, yesterday's show (written by Kaling and directed by Rainn Wilson) was one of this season's best yet (along with "WUPHF.com"). It was a return to the darker, more emotionally complex comedy that made earlier seasons so fantastic.

Watch the entire episode on the series' official website (U.S. only) or download it commercial-free from the iTunes Store (U.S. and Canada). And for all the latest on the show, visit fansite OfficeTally.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

'TS3' No. 1 on TIME best movies list

Toy Story 3 is No. 1 on TIME's Top 10 Movies list for the year, part of its Top 10 Everything of 2010 series.

Writing for the magazine, critic Richard Corliss says that "director Lee Unkrich and writer Michael Arndt have confected a powerful fable" in 'TS3'. And he has a message for Hollywood: "Watch this and see how it's done."

"I'm speechless," Unkrich tweeted in reaction to the honour. He later laughed off that the article originally misspelled his name as "Les": "Les is more".

Reporting on the story, The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Appelo writes that "when animation finally wins respect in the best picture category, the next step will be to give these guys their due in best director."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pixar news roundup (12/8/10)

A few items from yesterday and today you might find interesting:
  • Cool audio interview with animators Austin Madison and Chris Chua [The Pixar Podcast]
  • Steve Jobs named "CEO of the Decade", compared to Edison, Bell, Disney [MarketWatch]

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Exclusive: Pixar expanding Vancouver studio?

An anonymous tipster claims in that Pixar is in late-stage negotiations to considerably expand its Vancouver, B.C. studio, Pixar Canada, which opened this past April.

The management company at the Gastown building where Pixar Canada is headquartered "may have pushed at least six tenants out of their premises" to accommodate an expanded studio, the source says.

Some of the previous occupants are apparently unhappy, feeling that their leases were not renewed because of Pixar's need for additional space. The tipster suggests that an "exposé" of this "will likely surface soon", possibly in the media.

I haven't verified any of this information, so treat it a straight-up rumour for now. But I always welcome news of Pixar's continued growth.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Annie nominations for 'TS3' and Day & Night

Toy Story 3 received three nominations today from the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood for the upcoming 38th Annual Annie Awards:
  • Best Animated Feature
  • Directing in a Feature Production (Lee Unkrich)
  • Writing in a Feature Production (Michael Arndt)
Day & Night, directed by Teddy Newton, was nominated for Best Animated Short Subject.

Today's nominations come less than four months after Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios officially withdrew support for the organization due to its inequitable voting and judging rules.

Pixar artists were free to submit their work for consideration, but it appears that they decided to show solidarity with the studio by not doing so.

As a result, Toy Story 3 was shut out of many of the individual achievement categories it richly deserved to be nominated in, such as Animated Effects, Character Animation, Character Design (Lotso!), and so forth. In a couple of these, every nominee this year is from DreamWorks Animation.

It's a shame to see this happen to the Annie Awards. The fault lies squarely with the board of ASIFA-Hollywood. The Annies are dangerously close to becoming the "DreamWorks Awards"—a total loss of legitimacy.

Winners will be announced on Saturday, February 5.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

NBR names 'TS3' Best Animated Feature

Briefly: Toy Story 3 was named Best Animated Feature by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, which announced its year-end selections one hour ago.

This is Pixar's fifth consecutive win in the category, and seventh since the NBR established the category a decade ago.

Toy Story 3/Newman nominated for Grammy

Nominations for the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards have been announced by the Recording Academy and the music of Toy Story 3 is recognized with one nomination for composer Randy Newman, in the Best Score Soundtrack Album category.

Go to Grammy.com for the full list of nominees.

The awards will be handed out on February 13. The live show from the Staples Centre in Los Angeles will air on CBS at 8 PM ET/PT (check local listings).