Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dan Scanlon directing Monsters University

Several outlets are reporting that Pixar has revealed Dan Scanlon as the director of Monsters University. The confirmation came during this week's Cars 2 bloggers' event at Pixar, which I unfortunately wasn't able to attend.

Scanlon (@MrDanScanlon on Twitter) is a former Disney and DreamWorks animator. Having joined Pixar in the mid-2000s, he did storyboards and provided screenplay material for Cars and co-directed the feature-based short Mater and the Ghostlight.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cars 2 3-D gaming on PS3; final box art revealed

Disney Interactive Studios issued a press release this morning announcing a cool new feature of Cars 2: The Video Game for PlayStation 3 (PS3).

Exclusively on the PS3 edition, the game will feature full stereoscopic 3-D for players with 3-D-capable TVs. The game will automatically detect a connection to a 3-D set and adjust its settings.

Players can then experience 3-D immersion in every aspect of gameplay, including in multiplayer mode which allows up to four players to compete against each other in 3-D, using a split screen.

Final box art for the game—on sale for all major platforms June 21—was also revealed. Clearly, the cover matches closely the final domestic poster for the film, released early last week.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New piece of Brave artwork shows Princess Merida

Disney/Pixar just released this brand new piece of concept art from Brave. (See the artwork released yesterday.) It's our best glimpse yet of the lead character, Princess Merida.

Monsters, Inc. 2 a prequel; titled 'Monsters University'

Disney/Pixar confirmed today that the follow-up to Monsters, Inc.—previously referred to as "Monsters, Inc. 2"— will be a prequel entitled Monsters University.

The announcement was made a few hours ago at the CinemaCon motion picture theatre industry convention in Las Vegas.

This confirms the story, first reported in January, that the movie will follow Sulley and Mike Wazowski back when they were classmates at Monstropolis' University of Fear.

“Obviously everybody knows at this point Mike and Sully are amazing friends—the best of friends—but as it turns out, in this story, that wasn’t always the case," said Dave Hollis, Disney’s executive vice president of worldwide distribution.

"From the moment they met at university, they could not stand each other. This story takes you through the ups and downs, and how they overcame their own differences.”

Disney insider Floyd Norman tweeted on Friday that Pixar was screening the film at Disney's lot in Burbank—undoubtedly an early storyboard version. "Welcome back, Mike and Sully, we've missed you. Yeah, you too, Randall," he later wrote.

So what do you think of the title? The fact that it's a prequel? Randall? After minutes, the title is already growing on me. Can only image how cool the 'Monsters U' logo will be.

Monsters University opens on November 2, 2012.

(via THR and EW)

Pixar expansion construction photos (Mar. 2011)

It's been six months since we got our last look at progress on the Phase II expansion of Pixar's Emeryville campus.

S.F. Bay Area resident Christine Free, who's generously provided photos of the construction every few months since 2009, sent me these new pictures taken yesterday afternoon.

By all accounts, the new building is nearing completion. It should begin to be occupied by Pixar employees sometime later this spring. Some landscaping work remains to be done, however.

Pixarians were lining up recently to imprint their hands in a strip of cement outside the expanded parking lot, continuing a tradition started when the main building was under construction.

First look at 'Incredibles' Blu-ray

Woohoo! My advance copy of the The Incredibles Blu-ray just arrived. And here are a couple of hastily snapped pictures...

The Incredibles Blu-ray Combo Pack goes on sale two weeks from today, Tuesday, April 12. Check back in the coming days for more on the title.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Brave trailer attached to Cars 2?

Coming on the heels of today's reveal of concept art from the film, I just received a tip describing Disney/Pixar's plans to attach a teaser trailer for Brave to Cars 2.

The source, who asked that their name not be used, says that Disney "recently requested that a Brave trailer [be] created to show in front of Cars 2."

The team at Pixar "are in crunch time to get the trailer animated so it can go through lighting, rendering, editing, etc." and meet the deadline to attach it to prints.

While this may not sound like big news—Pixar usually gives us a taste of their next film with each release—this is the first we've heard about a Brave trailer.

As always, send your tips to pixarblogunofficial@yahoo.com. And you can remain anonymous!

Cars 2 characters: Lewis Hamilton & David Hobbscap

The Cars 2 character rollout continues with Lewis Hamilton and David Hobbscap, inspired and voiced by real life racers Lewis Hamilton and David Hobbs. HeyUGuys got the first look and official descriptions for both characters.

With his striking black paint job, Lewis Hamilton is one of the coolest Cars cars ever. David Hobbscap, on the other hand, is a quintessentially British driver turned commentator.

Stunning new Brave concept art, details [2 UPDATES]

Stunning new concept art from Pixar's upcoming feature Brave arrived this morning at Entertainment Weekly (EW) online. As you can see, Pixar's artists have captured the adventure of ancient Scotland.

Besides the new images, EW's piece contains a wealth of new details about the film—scheduled for release on June 22, 2012—as well as an updated synopsis.

We learn, for example, a bit about the characters voiced by Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, and Robbie Coltrane. They will be voicing three lords of the Scottish kingdom: "enormous" Lord MacGuffin, "surly" Lord Macintosh, and the "disagreeable" Lord Dingwall, respectively.

EW also breaks the news that Reese Witherspoon won't be voicing lead character princess Merida, due to scheduling issues. Instead the role will voiced by Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald.

Brenda Chapman and Mark Andrews will be co-credited as directors on the film. Chapman was, of course, initially announced as the film's sole director, but was replaced by Andrews amid considerable controversy.

As we get closer to 2012, we've been hearing more about Brave. Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich let it slip in an interview recently that movie will be a "very gritty adventure". Others at Pixar and Disney have been playing up the comedic aspects of the picture.

Thanks to Adam Blair from Disney, Etc. for sending in the tip
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Updated with hi-res versions from Walt Disney Studios press website. (Notice the bear hiding among the stones in the top one.)
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Update: A fourth piece was just released. View it here.

(Updated Mar. 29)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pixar Artists Masterclasses in NYC, Austin, Montreal

Following last year's blockbuster event in Vancouver, the Vancouver Institute of Media Arts (VanArts) will be hosting Pixar Artists Masterclasses in three major cities this summer.

New York City will be the first stop (June 24-25), followed by Austin, TX (July 8-9), and Montreal, QC (July 29-30).

The classes, focusing on animation and story development, will be taught by animator Andrew Gordon and story artist Matthew Luhn.

Cost to register is $499 and includes needed materials for the 2-day class (and a class T-shirt). More info, including daily curriculum, can be found on the VanArts website by following the links above.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cars 2 world premiere June 18 at El Capitan

Though not formally announced yet, I've learned that the world premiere of Cars 2 will take place on Saturday, June 18 at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.

Expect director John Lasseter to be in attendance with a host of artists and cast members from Pixar's twelfth feature film.

Cars 2 opens in theatres across North America on June 24.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Unkrich tapped for USC alumni award

Photo by Deborah Coleman/Pixar

The University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) announced on Friday that Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich will be the recipient of this year's Mary Pickford Alumni Award.

Unkrich will join a "long list" of SCA alumni who have been honored with the award, such as director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) and fellow Pixarian Gary Rydstrom (sound on Jurassic Park; director, Lifted)

The school is "proud to honor Lee Unkrich, a distinguished alum whose tremendous success over the years has been our pleasure to witness,” says dean Elizabeth M. Daley.

The award will be presented at the SCA graduation ceremony on May 13 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lightning McQueen leads on new Cars 2 poster

The new domestic one-sheet for Cars 2 emerged at Moviefone. What do you think?

Screenwriter claims Cars was his idea, sues Pixar

A U.K.-based screenwriter is suing Disney and Pixar for copyright infringement and breach of implied contract, claiming that Cars and Cars 2 are based on a story and characters he submitted circa 1993.

In his lawsuit* filed March 14 in U.S. federal court, Jake Mandeville-Anthony alleges that "he sent copies of his works to various production companies, including Disney" and "met in person" with Jim Morris, then an executive at Lucasfilm, and gave him copies of his project.

(Morris, of course, joined Pixar in 2005 and was named General Manager and Executive Vice President of Production in September 2008.)

Mandeville-Anthony says in his complaint that he sees overwhelming similarities between his creation and the Cars franchise. Thus, he's seeking an injunction to stop the release of Cars 2 on June 24. Super timing, don't you think?

The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq. blog, which broke the story a few hours ago, reports that Mandeville-Anthony recently sued Disney/Pixar in the U.K. The judgement in that case is sealed, suggesting that one of the parties views it as being prejudicial to future civil cases.

The only thing I can say about all this is, Not again. It seems that with every Pixar film somebody comes out of the woodwork declaring that the studio stole their concept, with no regard for the facts.

Monsters, Inc. is a prime example. A seemingly well-meaning social worker by the name of Lori Madrid, encouraged by friends and relatives, sued Pixar with a similar story and also sought a preliminary injunction to stop that film from being released.

Pete Docter, as director and co-writer, had to take the stand literally hours before Monsters, Inc. was scheduled to open on November 2, 2001 to defend his own integrity and that of the studio.

The presiding judge refused to issue the order. He later dismissed the entire lawsuit, ruling that the film didn't have anything in common with Madrid's work, apart from some general ideas that are not subject to copyright protection in the first place.

Less than a year later, another artist sued. Litigation lasted over three years, until Pixar agreed to settle out of court in order to avoid another trial.

(The cases are recounted in fascinating detail in chapter nine of David A. Price's The Pixar Touch.)

As for Cars, director John Lasseter has never been coy about his inspiration. He's loved cars since since he was kid. His dad worked at a Chevy dealership. After a road trip through America in 2000, Lasseter finally settled on a story.

*The case is Jake Mandeville−Anthony v. The Walt Disney Company et al, 2:11-cv-02137-VBF -JEM, United States District Court, Central District of California (Western Division − Los Angeles)

Jeff Gordon gets Cars 2 character

John Lasseter isn't the only one with a fun cameo in Cars 2. Autoblog has gotten a first look at Jeff Gorvette, a new addition to the cast based on NASCAR racing star Jeff Gordon.

Gordon is lending his voice Gorvette, who is described as "an up-and-coming Chevrolet Corvette C6.R that's "turning hoods wherever he competes."

Autoblog also points out that Cars character Darrell Cartrip, inspired and voiced by Darrell Waltrip, will be returning for the sequel.

Thanks Jason D. for the tip

Sunday, March 20, 2011

More Newt concept art surfaces

More original, never-before-seen concept art from Pixar's infamously cancelled picture Newt made its way online today, on the German-language Pixarblog.de (via Bleeding Cool).

These images, created by Pixar art director/character designer Jason Deamer (IMDb page) appear to have been released by Deamer himself--presumably with Pixar's permission, as artists often do after production on a project has wrapped.

This set comes about six months after Pixar officially published thirty pieces of concept art from the film on Facebook.

Six months later my thoughts haven't changed: Newt looks like it had the potential to be the smartest, quirkiest movie ever to come out of the studio.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

McConaughey pays Hanks $100 for work on Toy Story

Actor Matthew McConaughey reportedly slipped a $100 bill to Tom Hanks at the Oscars last month for his work voicing Sheriff Woody in the Toy Story trilogy.

"My son's main thing is Toy Story—I mean, daily. And so I run into Tom Hanks and I slip him $100," The Sun tabloid quotes McConaughey as saying.

"[Hanks] says, 'What's that for?' And I say, 'Trust me, I owe you a lot more than that for the amount of time you've been babysitting Levi.' "

McConaughey's son Levi is two years old. Proof that Pixar films are not just for grown-up film lovers.

Cars 2 exhibit at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Stitch Kingdom has posted a few dozen pictures from the brand new Cars 2 exhibit at the Magic of Disney Animation attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida.

As with previous exhibits for Toy Story 3 and Up, the display showcases artwork, concepts, and maquettes from the movie.

Hopefully that scene of a race on The Mall in London (top left) and a drive down the Champs-Élysées in Paris (left of Cars 2 logo) made it into the final film.

SK also has photos of the adjacent exhibit for Disney's Winnie the Pooh.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Japanese Cars 2 trailer explodes with action

If you thought the latest English-language trailers for Cars 2 were exciting, well, hahahahaha. You ain't seen nothing yet! A new Japanese trailer, with many never-before-seen shots from the film, is up on Disney.com/Cars.

Titled "Japan Trailer 2", this preview couldn't be more action-packed. The extended heart-pounding scenes just about guarantee the film will be the third in Pixar's history to receive a PG rating from the MPAA.

If you were skeptical about John Lasseter's comment that Cars 2 "is not a parody of a spy movie. [It] is a spy movie," you won't be after watching this.

Being aimed at the Japanese market, this trailer also features lots of scenes from Lightning McQueen and Mater's adventure in Tokyo. Sad to think what people in Japan are going through in the real world right now.

Once you're done watching, please come back here with your comments.

Cars 2 "Agents on a Mission" Tour

Disney/Pixar have partnered with State Farm Insurance to bring life-size remote-controlled replicas of Cars 2 stars Lightning McQueen, Mater (pictured), and Finn McMissile (watch) as part of a multi-city tour announced this evening.

According to the press release, the cars are the largest radio-controlled models ever built, weighing in between 1,760 and 2,700 lbs. Each can travel for 30 minutes on electrical power at speeds up to 10 miles per hour.

The "Agents on a Mission" tour kicks off this coming Tuesday, March 22, at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. It will makes stops in 30 North American cities, including Boston, Detroit, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Toronto, and Washington, DC. (Complete list of cities is up at Disney.com/Cars.)

The replicas will also be on show at the red-carpet World Premiere of Cars 2 in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 18, with the tour wrapping up thereafter in San Francisco and Sonoma, CA.

Besides checking out the cars, visitors will be able to "take part in a variety of Cars 2-themed activities, including a video kiosk, e-photo opportunities, games and giveaways", and "a sweepstakes featuring 18,000 prizes, including a new car."

Additional sponsors on the tour are Goodyear, which will be outfitting the models with tires, and Mack Trucks, which is assisting in transporting them from coast to coast.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Brave release date changed

The Wrap reports that The Walt Disney Studios has shifted the opening date of Pixar's Brave by one week, from June 15, 2012 to June 22, 2012.

Will update the "Future Pixar Theatrical Releases" section on the sidebar as soon as we get official confirmation.

Pixar confirms the change.

Exclusive: Cars 2 soundtrack to feature two original songs; CD release planned

The Cars 2 soundtrack will feature two original songs from the film, a person familiar with the matter tells me.

The songs will be by performed by different artists. One will be "a duet by two male artists", one of whom appeared on the soundtrack to the original Cars.

So that narrows it down to Chuck Berry, Brad Paisley, John Mayer, James Taylor, Randy Newman, or one of the guys from Rascal Flatts or The Chords. Easy.

Walt Disney Records plans to release the album on CD and for download on June 14—a departure from the recent practice of releasing Pixar soundtracks only as digital downloads.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cars 2 video game teaser trailer

Here's the first gameplay trailer for Cars 2: The Video Game, coming to all major platforms in June.



Gamers, what do you think?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lasseter talks Cars 2 in new video

Cars 2 director John Lasseter talks about the origins of the sequel in a new video for Disney Living, the official YouTube channel of Disney Consumer Products.

What surprised me the most is that the idea for a Finn McMissle character dates back to the original Cars. I hadn't heard that before.



[via /Film]

Cars 2 character: Rip Clutchgoneski

The rollout of Cars 2 characters goes into its tenth week with the debut of new addition Rip Clutchgoneski.

According to the official description, Rip originates from the newly independent European "Republic of New Rearendia", who are "desperate to put their name on the map."

"After putting together a remarkable string of qualifying races, Rip’s entry into the World Grand Prix is clearly the Cinderella story of the competition," the description says.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

'Art of Pixar' book coming later this year

Bud Luckey drawing Woody in his office in January 2007. Photo by Deborah Coleman/Pixar.

Amazon.com is listing a new book, The Art of Pixar: 25th Anniv[ersary]: The Complete Color Scripts and Select Art from 25 Years of Animation, to be published later this year by Chronicle Books.

Amazon gives a publication date of November 2, while Barnes & Noble says simply November 2011. The book is not yet listed on Chronicle's own website.

Notably, both retailers name Amid Amidi as the author of the 320-page hardcover volume. Amidi is an editor at Cartoon Brew and wrote The Art of Pixar Short Films, which was published by Chronicle in February 2009.

In May 2009, Amidi said that he would not be writing The Art of Toy Story 3 as had been initially announced. Since he and Chronicle refused to provide a reason for the change, I concluded that there had been a "falling out" of some sort between Amidi and Pixar.

Now it's clear I could not have been more wrong. And for that I apologize. Amidi's bio on Cartoon Brew currently says that "he is working on a coffeetable book celebrating the 25th anniversary of Pixar."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cars 2 retro posters [UPDATE]

This set of four retro-inspired Cars 2 posters showed up online this morning at Empire.

I'm still waiting to confirm who the artist is, if an individual is to be credited.

At first glance, I thought these were by Eric Tan, who has created retro posters for Pixar before, most recently for Up. But now I'm hearing that that may not be the case.

Regardless, all four posters are very cool. The London- and Tokyo-themed designs are the ones I'd most like to hang on my wall. You?
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Update: Pixar's publicity department tells me:

"The original inspiration for these "vintage racing posters" came from Harley Jessup at Pixar. However, there were many people who had a hand in the illustration, design and finishing of this art within the Disney and Pixar team."

(Updated Mar. 9)

Four hi-res Cars 2 stills

Four new high resolution stills from Cars 2 have been provided to media by Disney/Pixar. I think all of these scenes are found in the trailers released so far.

Behold the photorealism of the fire and buildings in the second and fourth stills. And the oil/gasoline additive "drinks" on shelf in the third one is a nice touch.

Cars 2 extended UK trailer

An extended international trailer for Cars 2 was just released by Walt Disney Studios UK on YouTube. It is similar to the new "domestic" trailer that hit the web yesterday, but geared toward the U.K. market. Watch—

Pixar news roundup (3/8/11)

I'm back from my "post-Oscars break" to London, one of the coolest cities on the planet. Definitely some relief that it wasn't a really crazy news week.

Here are the big stories I missed while I was away:
  • A new Cars 2 trailer was released yesterday evening on MSN Movies and YouTube. It may be the most exciting one yet. Those oil rigs remind me of the Season 6 finale of 24.
  • Carl Fredricksen's flying house from Up recreated by National Geographic Channel program How Hard Can it Be?, sets a world record for the largest balloon cluster flight. Thanks to the many readers who sent this in.
  • Professor Z and Tomber became the latest Cars 2 characters to get official stills and bios. The Professor is the film's central villain, of course.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Shake-up at the Annie Awards

Less than a month after the flawed and controversial 38th Annual Annie Awards, the organization that oversees them got a major shake-up.

Members of ASIFA-Hollywood chose a new president, Frank Gladstone, to replace Antran Manoogian, who held the post for over twenty years. The group also elected a new vice-president, Cartoon Brew's Jerry Beck, and a new treasurer, DreamWorks Animation exec Jeff Wike.

Under Manoogian, the ASIFA-Hollywood board refused to correct the Annies' twisted voting rules, which handed DreamWorks an unfair advantage and precipitated Disney and Pixar's departure from the organization.

Gladstone says he is "looking forward to...making some significant changes to the status quo". "This includes updating our membership qualifications, establishing a representative voice for every animation studio and...revising the voting structure of the annual Annie Awards."

Of course, it remains to be seen whether new leadership will translate to acceptable changes and a return of support from Walt Disney Animation and Pixar. I'm sure everyone in the industry hopes it does.

Hawaiian Vacation to premiere at Sprockets

It's just been announced that Toy Story: Hawaiian Vacation will have its World Premiere at Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children and Youth on April 8.

The event will also include a sneak-peek at Cars 2 and a "special behind-the-scenes presentation" by a Pixar animator.

I'm thrilled that Disney/Pixar chose Toronto to debut the short and you can bet I'll be there.

It would be great if Pixar would debut a feature at the Toronto International Film Festival. Maybe Monsters, Inc. 2 in 2012? It hits theatres in November and TIFF happens in September. Perfect timing.

Thanks to John C. for sending in the tip

Art of Cars 2 final cover

The Art of Cars 2 has gotten its striking final cover, replacing the temporary one from November. The new cover is up on the book's page at Chronicle Books.

The 160-page Art of Cars 2 is written by Ben Queen and Karen Paik, with foreword by director John Lasseter.

Your thoughts?

Toy Story: Hawaiian Vacation clip

Disney/Pixar unleashed a 30-second clip from Toy Story: Hawaiian Vacation this morning. It can be viewed in HD embedded above via YouTube or on Apple Movie Trailers.

Speaking to EW, director Gary Rydstrom says that Pixar got back "everybody" back for the short—that is, all the main cast members of Toy Story 3. And he sums up the film's plot, which was leaked last month:
"Ken wants to take Barbie on a perfect vacation to Hawaii by stowing away in Bonnie’s backpack, but they get left behind in the middle of winter while she goes off without them... All the toys see how devastated Ken is."
That 'motivates' the toys to recreate Hawaii right in Bonnie's room.

Rydstrom also shares his favourite moment from the short, which I suspect will be my favourite moment as well: Chuckles sings!

Hawaiian Vacation will be in theatres with Cars 2 on June 24.