Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Brad Lewis leaves Pixar for Digital Domain

Ratatouille producer and Cars 2 co-director Brad Lewis is leaving Pixar to join Digital Domain's new animation group in Florida, Tradition Studios, reports Variety.

"I am excited to join a company with Digital Domain's talent and expertise and to have an opportunity to be a part of its team in creating family-friendly stories and adventures," Lewis said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.

Before joining Pixar in 2001, Lewis spent eleven years at PDI and DreamWorks Animation SKG, where he worked on the notorious Antz.

(Photo by Deborah Coleman/Pixar)

A Special Announcement

After nearly four years, its time for a change. This fall, The Pixar Blog will transform into something completely new. I don’t want to give away too much just yet, but suffice it to say that animation lovers (including Pixar fans) should enjoy it. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tom Hanks says Pixar working on Toy Story 4 [UPDATE]

Hanks with Lee Unkrich during a recording session for Toy Story 3

Sitting down with the BBC to promote his new film Larry Crowne, Tom Hanks was asked about his new granddaughter and whether 'there will be a Toy Story 4 for her to see'.

"I think there will be, yeah. Yeah, yeah. I think they’re working on it now," he told interviewer Tim Muffett. "There you go." (Watch video starting at 2:28.)

Before you get all excited (or upset, as the case may be) this could be just a big slip-up. Maybe Hanks had future Toy Story Toons on his mind and that's what he was referring to.

But what strikes me is Hanks' demeanor as he says it—he seems really serious, almost worried that he's spilled the beans on something he shouldn't have.

This is exactly the kind of drumbeat we got before Cars 2 was officially announced.
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Update: He said it again!

"I understand it's happening and if it is, I hope they'll hire me." Hanks tells CNN/HLN's Showbiz Tonight.

There you go, people. There you go.

(Updated June 28)

Brave trailer debuts online

The highly-anticipated teaser trailer for Brave (playing in theatres with Cars 2) has arrived online in high definition. Watch—

The way the narration leads into the title is incredibly smart, isn't it?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cars 2 wins weekend race with $68 million [UPDATE: $66.1]

Cars 2 is the No. 1 film at the North American box office this weekend, earning an estimated $68 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

Final figures will be released tomorrow.

Cars 2's opening is currently the 5th best for a Pixar movie, nearly tied with Up's $68.1 million. It's also the 4th best June opening weekend ever, for any genre.
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Update: Variety's Andrew Stewart is reporting on Twitter a final box office take of $66.1 million, 3% lower than the weekend estimates.

(Updated 3:26)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The sound of Cars 2

Watch this new video from Soundworks Collection, profiling the sound and musical design of Cars 2.

It features commentary by composer Michael Giacchino, re-recording mixer/sound designer Tom Myers and sound effects editor Al Nelson of Skywalker Sound.


Best part: The sound designers at Skywalker recording specific vehicles (e.g. AMC Pacers) to bring an authentic sound to the film.

Cars 2 earns $25.7 million on Friday

Cars 2 brought in an estimated $25.7 million at the box office on Friday.

This comfortably beats estimates that had it making only $59 million over the entire weekend.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cars 2 is now on track to earn between $67 million and $70 million for the weekend, which would make it one of the best openings of the year so far.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cars 2 drives into theatres

Cars 2 opens today in theatres across the United States, Canada, and a select number of other countries.

According to Variety, Pixar's twelfth feature will 'bow at 4,115 locations, including 2,508 in 3-D'. Disney is said to be projecting box office revenues of $48-$52 million for the weekend.

Whether you're seeing in 2-D or 3-D; regular, digital, or IMAX, please come back here afterwards and share your thoughts on the movie.

Don't forget to arrive at the theatre early to catch the Brave teaser (digital and IMAX showings only), Hawaiian Vacation, and a four-minute preview of Disney's The Lion King in 3-D.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gary Rydstrom talks Hawaiian Vacation

The Animation World Network (AWN) has published a light discussion with Hawaiian Vacation director Gary Rydstrom.

Rydstrom talks about his work helming the short, which opens in theatres Friday in front of Cars 2.

"We wanted to give all the [Toy Story 3] characters their moments, and this seemed like a good story to hang all the characters on," he tells AWN's Bill Desowitz.

Read it here.

Cars 2 fails to find overwhelming critical success

With only hours left until Cars 2 opens on the big screen, reviews are stacking up. As with the first Cars, the response from many critics has been poor.

The film is currently at only 38% "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes (50% among Top Critics). That makes it the first Pixar film ever to be considered "Rotten" by the review aggregator.

Cars 2 isn't Pixar's greatest film artistically, but this is an enormous mistake.

Tellingly, a big number of the positive reviews are coming from veteran critics, like Roger Ebert, who gives Cars 2 three-and-a-half stars out of four—a higher rating than he gave Toy Story 3 last June.

"At a time when some "grown-up" action films are relentlessly shallow and stupid, here is a movie with such complexity," he writes. "Cars 2 is fun. Whether that's because John Lasseter is in touch with his inner child or mine, I cannot say."

Brand-new Brave still in latest issue of EW [UPDATE]

A brand-new still from Brave can be found in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly.

It's the first still from the film to be officially released by Pixar.

I'll be sure to post the hi-res version when it becomes available.
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Updated with hi-res version via Stitch Kingdom.

Cars 2 die-cast vehicles from Mattel

Mattel sent me a selection of Cars 2 die-casts and a Tokyo Spinout Track Set to try out—just a few of the hundreds of Cars 2 products on sale now.

(I also got a Mater’s Spy Zone set from LEGO last week, which I have yet to put together.)

As you'd expect, the detail and paint work on the die-cast cars is top-notch. Kids (and big kids) will love these. Finn McMissile makes a very cool desk accessory.

The Tokyo Spinout set works with most of the 1:55 scale die-cast cars and features dual tracks, spinning platforms, and a surprisingly powerful launcher.

Launched Finn halfway across the room (without first assembling the tracks, mind you).

Official Brave website launches

The official website for Brave has launched at Disney.com/Brave, ahead of the teaser debut with Cars 2 tomorrow.

Currently there's not much content available; only the story synopsis and previously released artwork.

New Hawaiian Vacation still

Here's a beautiful new still from Toy Story Toon: Hawaiian Vacation, in theatres tomorrow with Cars 2.

You can read my "spoiler"-free review of the short (and report on the world premiere) here.

Lasseter getting star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Briefly: Pixar creative chief and Cars 2 director John Lasseter will be honored next year with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The unveiling ceremony takes place on June 17, 2012.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Brave teaser poster spotted [UPDATE]

The first one-sheet poster for Brave has been spotted in the wild, ahead of the teaser trailer coming with Cars 2.

It was photographed at a theatre by a sharp-eyed forum user at DVDizzy/Ultimate Disney. (See the uncropped photo.)

With the tagline "Change Your Fate. Summer 2012", which alludes to the main character's quest to shake off the chains of princesshood, this poster is just awesome.

Gorgeous artwork, superb design. One of the best Pixar teaser posters ever, tied with last year's '3' one-sheet for Toy Story 3.

Thanks Matt DeWater for the tip
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Update: EW.com just posted the official image (pictured), along with quotes from co-director Mark Andrews on the significance of some of the design elements.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cars 2 serves up action, fun [Review]

Let’s get something out of the way: Anyone who goes into Cars 2 expecting to re-experience the philosophical overtones of WALL-E or the poignancy of Toy Story 3 will be disappointed.

Cars 2 is all about unbridled fun.

You know it right from the start. When Mater appears—then Lightning McQueen—it's impossible not to grin. Boys will shriek with excitement. Heck, I almost did. This is why people show up to sequels: to catch up with old friends.

And make new ones.

Finn McMissle is Pixar’s coolest, and most stylish, supporting character since Edna Mode in The Incredibles. His protégée Holley Shiftwell (cover: iPhone app designer) is surprisingly fun to watch as well. Pixar successfully avoided many potential pitfalls with her character.

Even as McQueen and the other World Grand Prix race cars face danger from a villain—or villains—with motives unclear, McMissle, Shiftwell, and Mater encounter the same and more.

When you consider the amount of action contained in the movie's 112 minutes, it borders on the ridiculous that the MPAA gave the film a G rating, instead of the PG it gave The Incredibles and Up.

Finally, Cars 2 continues the tradition of each Pixar film being more visually stunning than the last. Every set—from Radiator Springs to Buckingham Palace—carves out new standards for photorealism and lighting. It’s also Pixar’s best use of stereoscopic 3-D to date.

Ka-chow!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Notes on Cars 2 soundtrack

I finally got my copy of the Cars 2 soundtrack album on CD today, nearly a week after its release.

Though irked to see it labeled by the retailer as a "children's" album, it's great to see a Pixar soundtrack on physical media again.

The original songs from the film are okay (I'm not big on country), but it's Weezer's take on The Cars' "You Might Think" that really shines. It's better than the original.

Michael Giacchino's original score is guaranteed to give your speakers a work out. I think Giacchino has done better (thinking of Up), but his work here fits Cars 2 well.

Standing out for me are the tracks "It's Finn McMissile", "History's Biggest Loser Cars", and "Porto Corsa".

Untitled Pixar feature coming Nov. 27, 2013

It's been learned that a currently untitled Pixar feature is set for release in theatres on November 27, 2013. No details on its theme have been made public.

The news was first reported by Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood. Finke reports that "It's an original project, not a sequel."

While confirming the scheduling news, Pixar politely declined to comment further to me.

But my money's on this being the dinosaur project, with Pete Docter directing.

(Curiously, Pixar held a dinosaur-themed evening for employees in late April, which included a screening of Jurassic Park.)

It also wouldn't be surprising to see the release date later pushed to Summer 2014.

New Brave concept art on display

Behold new concept art from Brave, hanging on the walls of one of Pixar's studio buildings in Emeryville.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cars 2 reviews at THR & Variety

Following its world premiere last night at the El Capitan Theatre, the first reviews of Cars 2 have been published at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

THR's Todd McCarthy calls the film "another Pixar winner" where "the visual, verbal and musical jokes practically exceed the speed limit."

Justin Chang at Variety concurs: "Unexpectedly delightful... The rare sequel that not only improves on but retroactively justifies its predecessor."

Keep an eye out for lots more reviews (including my own) in the coming week. Cars 2 opens in theatres on Friday.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cars 2 distracted driving PSA

The U.S. Department of Transportation teamed up with Disney/Pixar to create this Cars 2-themed public service announcement.

The spot encourages viewers to focus on the road while driving, avoiding dangerous habits like calling and texting behind the wheel.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Larry the Cable Guy on Mater, Cars 2, and Cars 3 [Interview]


Last Tuesday, I had the chance to sit down for a chat with comedian Larry the Cable Guy, who reprises his role as Mater in Cars 2.


Sprawled out on a hotel couch, Larry answered a bunch of questions, sharing his feelings on Mater, the Cars franchise, and his hopes for (and possibly a hint about) a Cars 3.

Do you feel like you can relate to Mater?

I can relate to Mater.

On a personal level? Like when he’s out of place at the gala in Tokyo. Have you felt that in your life enough that you can bring it to the character?

I felt that at dinner today—at lunch—when I went down to eat lunch. We go to this nice restaurant. I’m dressed like this, people are in suits—business attire—I come walking in, in shorts, this shirt that says Stinky’s on it, and a ball cap. I got some looks.

I felt like all eyes were on me, like, look at this guy. That’s how Mater feels when he goes to all these other places. But the cool thing about Mater—and about me—is, I don’t care how you dress, I don’t care what you do for a living; as long as you’re a nice person, you’re awesome. You know what I mean?

So he’s not into all that kind of stuff. As you can tell, I couldn’t care less about how I look. I mean, I’m not going to dress like white trash, you know what I mean, but I’m gonna—you know—I want to dress comfortable.

I’m comfortable. I’m comfortable in this, Mikey. You know what I mean. I’m a fat guy; I don’t like to tuck in. I can’t; it looks bad. Until I lose weight, this is how I’m dressed.

And I’m comfortable with that. That’s how Mater is. Mater’s awesome.

Confirmed: Patrick Doyle scoring Brave

A trusted source confirmed moments ago that Pixar has hired Scottish musician and composer Patrick Doyle to score Brave.

The story was first reported by Film Music Reporter in March, but didn't come to my attention until recently (thanks JV).

IMDb also named Doyle as Brave's composer but, again, I couldn't independently confirm until now.

Doyle, a two-time Oscar nominee, is only the fourth composer to score a Pixar feature (following Randy Newman, Thomas Newman, and Michael Giacchino).

Monday, June 13, 2011

'Planes' teaser debuts [UPDATE]

The first teaser for Cars spinoff Planes has taken off on YouTube. Watch—
I've got to say, it looks pretty good. At the least, it'll doubtless have huge appeal to younger audiences.

As previously reported, Planes is being produced at DisneyToon Studios in Glendale and will not be branded as "Disney•Pixar". Notice that only Disney is named in the trailer.

Peter Sciretta over at /Film writes that he's "sure Pixar wants no credit what-so-ever." Sure, Pixar appears to want to keep their studio identity special, but it's more complex than that.

To begin with, Cars and Cars 2 director John Lasseter (and franchise guardian Jay Ward) must realize that Planes will reflect on Cars no matter how its billed.

More importantly, the film just isn't being made at Pixar, but by a different group of artists. Why would Pixar be credited with making it?

Planes lands direct-to-video in Spring 2013.

Friday, June 10, 2011

La Luna interview & first clip

Head over to the Animation World Network (AWN) for the first clip from La Luna and an interview with the short's director, Enrico Casarosa.

The above still is also brand-new, debuting with the article.

Agreeing with the buzz around it, AWN calls La Luna a "real Oscar contender" that "combines the personal with the fantastic".

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cars 2 still: McQueen meets the Topolinos

Disney/Pixar released minutes ago this new still from Cars 2, where Lightning McQueen meets Luigi's relatives, Mama and Uncle Topolino, and is invited made to stay in their home.

Along with the still, it's been announced that Mama Topolino (voiced by Vanessa Redgrave, who also voices The Queen) will be voiced by famed Italian actress Sofia Loren in other language dubs where the character only speaks in Italian.

Since this would presumably involve subtitles, why wasn't this approach followed for the English version?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Beautiful La Luna poster

Check out this beautiful poster for Pixar's La Luna, designed by director Enrico Casarosa, who just posted it to his blog.

The short had its World Premiere last night at the Annecy International Animation Festival in France.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Authorized Steve Jobs biography available for pre-order

Amazon.com and other online booksellers are now listing Walter Isaacson's authorized biography of Steve Jobs, iSteve: The Book of Jobs, for pre-order.

The 448-page book is being published by Simon & Schuster; release is set for March 6, 2012. (Cover pictured is likely confirmed to be temporary.)

The official description provides new detail while reiterating what was announced in April:
From bestselling author Walter Isaacson comes the landmark biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. In iSteve: The Book of Jobs, Isaacson provides an extraordinary account of Jobs’ professional and personal life.

Drawn from three years of exclusive and unprecedented interviews Isaacson has conducted with Jobs as well as extensive interviews with Jobs’ family members, key colleagues from Apple and its competitors, iSteve is the definitive portrait of the greatest innovator of his generation.
The description is remiss in omitting reference to Jobs' role at Pixar, but there's no conceivable chance Isaacson has done the same in his future bestseller. If he talked to Jobs' family and competitors, you can bet he talked to his colleagues at Pixar.

I recently finished reading Isaacson's excellent biography of Benjamin Franklin, a man I frankly knew nothing about. If Isaacson captures as much detail about Jobs' life as he did of Franklin's, iSteve will be the biography of the decade.

New Cars 2 clip: Tokyo gala

Briefly: Fandango brings us another great new clip from Cars 2.

Lightning McQueen and friends arrive at the Tokyo gala just in time for Mater to embarrass Lightning in front of cool cars Jeff Gorvette and Lewis Hamilton.

Thanks Brian C. for the tip

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cars 2 soundtrack previews + alternate album cover

Amazon.co.uk has unleashed 30-second previews of the music of Cars 2 and a new alternate (international?) cover for the soundtrack album.

So far, I'm liking the old-fashioned fanfare of "Porto Corsa"; also "Mater's Getaway", which really evokes Michael Giacchino's work on The Incredibles.

Thanks Issac Cowling of Pixar News Australia for the heads-up

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cars 2 featurette: Spy Cars Like Us + new clip

With only three weeks left until opening day, another new Cars 2 clip and featurette have been released on the Disney/Pixar YouTube channel.

The featurette serves up a helping of thrilling, never-before-seen footage from the film, as well as comments by John Lasseter, Brad Lewis, Michael Caine, Larry the Cable Guy, Emily Mortimer, and Owen Wilson.

And watch out for a certain famous in-joke.

The "Meet Finn" clip is set at the Tokyo airport, where Finn disguises himself as a security officer to introduce himself to Mater and plant a surveillance device. We've seen the end of the clip ("Tow Mater, average intelligence") in the trailers.