©2015 Disney * Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
©2015 Disney * Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

22 Facts About Your Favorite Pixar Movies

©2015 Disney * Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
©2015 Disney * Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

For more than 20 years, the brilliant filmmakers at Pixar have been winning over audiences (of all ages) with their lineup of clever animated films that truly are fun for the whole family. From Toy Story to The Good Dinosaur, here are 22 things you might not have known about your favorite Pixar movies.

1. TOY STORY’S WOODY WASN’T ORIGINALLY A COWBOY.

In Toy Story, the original Woody was a ventriloquist’s dummy. Executives at Disney, which co-produced the film, requested that he be changed to something else, as ventriloquist’s dummies were usually associated with horror movies, and they didn’t want their cute family movie to be terrifying. (Good call.)

2. IT TOOK JUST ONE WORD TO GET THE GREEN LIGHT FOR FINDING NEMO

“You had me at ‘fish.’” That is precisely what John Lasseter, Pixar’s chief creative officer, told writer-director Andrew Stanton following his exhaustive pitch for his passion project.

3. WALL·E AND R2-D2 ARE PLAYED BY THE SAME ACTOR.

The “voice” of WALL·E is legendary sound designer Ben Burtt. Burtt is best known for his work on Star Wars (you can go ahead and thank him for R2-D2’s distinctive chatter), though he’s worked on little-known films like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and the Indiana Jones series as well.

4. THE ORIGINAL PITCH FOR MONSTERS, INC. WAS TO HAVE A GROWN MAN BE HAUNTED BY THE MONSTERS HE DREW AS A KID.

On Jeff Goldsmith’s Creative Writing podcast, Monsters, Inc. director Pete Docter recounted his original pitch: “My idea was that what it was about was a 30-year-old man who is like an accountant or something, he hates his job, and one day he gets a book with some drawings in it that he did when he was a kid from his mom. He doesn’t think anything of it and he puts it on the shelf and that night, monsters show up. And nobody else can see them. He thinks he’s starting to go crazy, they follow him to his job, and on his dates ... and it turns out these monsters are fears that he never dealt with as a kid ... And each one of them represents a different kind of fear. As he conquers those fears, the guys who he slowly becomes kind of friends with, they disappear ... It’s this bittersweet kind of ending where they go away, and so not much of that stayed.” 

5. RATATOUILLE SPARKED A RUN ON PET RATS.

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Convincing the public that rats make trendy pets is no easy task, but Pixar was able to do so with 2007's Ratatouille. According to the British pet chain Pets at Home, their rat sales shot up by 50 percent following the film’s release. Hopefully the pet owners knew better than to let their rats near the cooking supplies.

6. THE INCREDIBLES WAS THE FIRST PIXAR MOVIE COMPRISED ONLY OF CG HUMAN BEINGS.

Copies of the medical school text Gray’s Anatomy were given to the digital sculptors to help them figure out how the human body moves. Live action footage of Pixar animators walking was also used.

7. THE STATION AGENT INSPIRED UP.

Who would’ve thought a Peter Dinklage-led indie movie would’ve inspired one of Pixar’s most celebrated films? “We looked at how other people have dealt with the subject matter,” Docter told Movie Retriever. "We looked at The Station Agent, a great, simple, character-based story of a guy who’s much like Carl, who comes out of his shell. Casablanca is a similar kind of story ... Movies that had a beautiful simplicity to them and a focus on character.”

8. A MISTAKE ALMOST DELETED TOY STORY 2.

As we’ve written about previously, Toy Story 2 faced a pretty major hurdle when a stray computer command entered by an anonymous mischief-maker deleted 90 percent of the work done on the film a year before it was set to come out. Luckily, the film’s supervising technical director, Galyn Susman, had a copy of the film that she’d been working on from home, and disaster was averted.

9. THE CO-WRITER/DIRECTOR OF CARS DIED DURING THE FILM'S PRODUCTION.

Cars is dedicated to Joe Ranft, a longtime collaborator of John Lasseter, Pixar’s chief creative officer, and his co-writer and co-director on the film. Ranft died in a car accident on August 16, 2005, while Cars was still in production. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (2005), which Ranft executive produced, is also dedicated to him.

10. MAKING RILEY'S EMOTIONS SHINE IN INSIDE OUT WAS A BUDGET-BUSTING ENDEAVOR.

In discussing the best way to animate Joy in Inside Out, production designer Ralph Eggleston came up with an idea … but it wasn’t cheap. “We worked on the idea of [Joy] being effervescent or sparkly for champagne bubbles, for about eight months,” Eggleston said. “And it got to the point where we couldn’t afford to do it. There was just no way … None of the other characters had it, because we just couldn’t afford it. When John saw it on Joy he said, 'That’s great. Put it on all the characters.' You could hear the core technical staff just hitting the ground, the budget falling through the roof. But it was all good. They found a way to make it work.”

11. PIXAR HAD A HARD TIME GETTING REAL TOYS ON SHELVES.

Amazon

Hasbro and Mattel both turned down the toy license for the Toy Story franchise, believing that they wouldn’t have enough time to put a toy line together in the 11 months they had before the film came out. Small, Canada-based company Thinkway Toys got the license instead and created Woody and Buzz toys; Pixar tried to get them to manufacture Sid’s nightmare-inducing “Mutant Toys“ (a.k.a. a baby doll head with Erector set spider legs), but for some reason they passed on the idea.

12. THE INCREDIBLES USED FOUR TIMES AS MANY LOCATIONS AS ANY OTHER PIXAR MOVIE.

It also featured 781 visual effects shots and, at 121 minutes, The Incredibles is the longest Pixar movie to date.

13. CARS WAS PAUL NEWMAN’S FINAL FILM. AND HIS HIGHEST-GROSSING.

Cars marks the final film of Paul Newman, who in addition to being an actor/entrepreneur/philanthropist also became a racing enthusiast after starring in the 1969 racing drama Winning. Cars is also the highest-grossing film of Newman’s career (not adjusted for inflation).

14. BEN BURTT CREATED A RECORD NUMBER OF SOUNDS FOR WALL·E.

Ben Burtt created a library of 2400 sounds for WALL·E, the largest number of all of his films by far. Among the raw sounds Burtt used in WALL·E are: An electric toothbrush, shopping carts banging together, a Nikon camera shutter (for WALL·E’s eyebrow movements), Burtt sneezing while a vacuum cleaner was running (WALL·E sneezing), and a hand-cranked generator of the sort used in the John Wayne film Island in the Sky.

15. TOY STORY 3’S “LOTS-O’-HUGGIN’” BEAR GOT DISNEY SUED.

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In 2014, Disney was sued by New Jersey company Diece-Lisa Industries (DLI) over Toy Story 3’s evil bear antagonist, named “Lots-O’-Huggin’” a.k.a. “Lotso.” DLI, which had been selling their own “Lots of Hugs” toy bears since 1995, argued that their ability to market their own product was substantially affected by Toy Story 3’s use of such a similar toy. Further, DLI alleged that Disney knew about their “Lots of Hugs” toys before Toy Story 3, as they previously licensed their “hugging technology" to a Disney affiliate company.

16. INSIDE OUT'S RILEY REFUSED TO EAT DIFFERENT VEGETABLES IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES.

In order to reach the widest audience possible, Pixar regularly makes tweaks to its films when introducing them to international audiences. In the case of Inside Out, they made a lot of them—28 graphic changes to 45 shots, to be precise. “We learned that some of our content wouldn’t make sense in other countries," director Pete Docter explained. One notable example is the veggies Riley finds distasteful: If you watch the movie in Japan, instead of turning her nose up at broccoli, Riley refuses to eat green bell peppers. Another change is the sport being played in Riley's dad's head; Not all countries are familiar with hockey, so it's changed to soccer in some versions.

17. RANDY NEWMAN WON HIS FIRST-EVER OSCAR FOR THE MONSTERS, INC. SONG, "IF I DIDN’T HAVE YOU."

It was Randy Newman's first Oscar win out of 16 nominations. In 2011, he won his second Oscar for "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3. To date, Newman has earned 20 Academy Award nominations.

18. FINDING NEMO’S POPULARITY LED TO POPULATION STRESS FOR CLOWNFISH.

Children were so taken with the adorable Nemo following the release of the film that the demand for clownfish as pets instantly skyrocketed. Excessive capture and sale of the ocean dwellers led to a steep decline in the organic population of the species; some natural habitats, such as the waters surrounding Vanuatu, saw a 75 percent drop in clownfish numbers

19. TOY STORY 2 WAS ORIGINALLY A DIRECT-TO-VIDEO SEQUEL.

Seeing dollar signs after their 1994 Aladdin sequel, The Return of Jafar, pulled an estimated $100 million profit, Disney originally wanted Toy Story 2 to bypass a theatrical release and go directly to DVD. However, during production it became clear that Toy Story 2 was good enough—and, importantly, expensive enough (direct-to-video movies are typically done on the cheap to maximize profits, and “cheap” isn’t something Pixar does)—that a full theatrical release was the better option. With less than a year to go before release, the Toy Story 2 team had to retool their story to add an extra 12 minutes of footage.

20. CARS BROUGHT A NEW STANDARD OF REALISM TO ANIMATED FILMS.

Cars was the first Pixar feature to utilize a technique known as “ray tracing,” which properly renders the way light passes through and collides with surfaces. More simply, it enables artists to accurately depict reflections without having to go through and “paint” them individually. Ray tracing takes up a massive amount of computer power; as a result, each frame (or about 1/24th of a second) of Cars took an average of 17 hours to render. Some frames took up to a week.

21. THE FINAL BALLOON COUNT IN UP WAS 10,297.

YouTube

You can stop counting now: the film’s effects artists, Jon Reisch and Eric Froemling, have done the work for you. “The entire canopy is filled with balloons,” Reisch recalled to Tech Radar. “We didn’t just simulate the outer shell.” Yep, beneath the outer layer of balloons you see tugging the house are several more layers, each as carefully animated as the first.

22. DELAYS WITH THE GOOD DINOSAUR MEANT THERE WAS NO PIXAR MOVIE IN 2014.

Since the release of Cars in 2006, Pixar has been diligent about releasing one movie per year. The one notable exception was in 2014, when delays with The Good Dinosaur forced the studio to push back the film’s release date to 2015. Originally, it was Bob Peterson at the helm of The Good Dinosaur, but in 2013, the studio replaced him. “All directors get really deep in their films," Pixar president Ed Catmull said. "Sometimes you just need a different perspective to get the idea out. Sometimes directors ... are so deeply embedded in their ideas it actually takes someone else to finish it up. I would go so far as to argue that a lot of live-action films would be better off with that same process."

It wasn't the first time Pixar made a director switch in the midst of a production; Peterson’s removal was the fourth time it had happened at Pixar. But the change in director led to a delay in the schedule, forcing Pixar to release zero movies in 2014 and two of them in 2015. (The Good Dinosaur was released five months after Inside Out.)

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Walt Disney Studios
15 Things You Might Not Know About Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Walt Disney Studios
Walt Disney Studios

As both a groundbreaking feat for the world of animation and an enjoyable crime comedy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit stands in a class all its own. Here are a few interesting nuggets about the cartoon-live action classic, on the 30th anniversary of its release.

1. IT WAS THE MOST EXPENSIVE MOVIE EVER MADE.

At the time of its release on June 22, 1988, Who Framed Roger Rabbit boasted the highest budget of any film to date: a whopping $70 million (nearly $150 million in today's dollars). It topped the previous record holder, Rambo III (which had come out less than a month earlier), by about $12 million. Roger Rabbit held the designation until July 1991, ultimately falling to Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which cost $100 million.

2. THE FILM ALSO BROKE THE RECORD FOR LONGEST END CREDITS.

Recognizing a cast and crew of just over 800, Who Framed Roger Rabbit featured the longest closing credit reel ever upon its release. The film’s credits ran for over 10 minutes, even without attribution for Jessica Rabbit’s voice actor, Kathleen Turner.

3. BOB HOSKINS WAS NOT THE FIRST PICK FOR EDDIE VALIANT.

Director Robert Zemeckis and producer Steven Spielberg communicated with a number of big name actors in regard to the casting of human protagonist Detective Eddie Valiant. Among those considered for the curmudgeonly private eye were Harrison Ford (who was too expensive), Chevy Chase (who was not interested in the part), and Bill Murray (who allegedly never got the message and was dismayed to learn he had missed such an opportunity). Other names tossed around included Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson, Sylvester Stallone, Wallace Shawn, Ed Harris, and Charles Grodin.

4. CHRISTOPHER LLOYD WASN'T THE FILMMAKERS' FIRST CHOICE EITHER.

Christopher Lloyd in 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' (1988)
Walt Disney Studios

Before landing on Zemeckis’s Back to the Future colleague Christopher Lloyd as the nefarious Judge Doom, producers considered Tim Curry (who they deemed too scary), John Cleese (not scary enough), and Christopher Lee (who turned the role down). Also in early contention: Roddy McDowell, Eddie Deezen, and Sting.

5. LLOYD WAS MORE TERRIFYING THANKS TO ONE SIMPLE TRICK.

Prompted by a suggestion from Zemeckis, Lloyd does not blink even once while onscreen in the film.

6. CHARLES FLEISCHER ACTUALLY DRESSED UP LIKE ROGER RABBIT WHEN PERFORMING HIS LINES.

Voice actor Charles Fleischer was so devoted to his role as the animated title character that he asked the costume department to create a full-body Roger Rabbit suit for him to wear on set. Fleischer delivered all of his lines from inside the suit, claiming that it helped both him and costar Hoskins immerse within the fantastical world of the film (even though Fleischer admits that Hoskins initially thought he was out of his mind).

7. THE “DIP” IS REAL.

Kathleen Turner and Bob Hoskins in 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' (1988)
Walt Disney Studios

Who Framed Roger Rabbit subverts the old maxim about cartoon characters never dying by introducing the one thing that proves fatal to the lot: a liquid concoction known as “dip.” There is actually a bit of science behind this plot device. The ingredients of the dip are revealed to be turpentine, benzene, and acetone, which are all paint thinners commonly used to erase animation cells (in other words, wipe out cartoon characters).

8. THE FILM SENT BART SIMPSON TO STARDOM.

One of the film’s most chilling sequences sees Judge Doom exacting his wrath upon an anthropomorphic cartoon shoe. The character never speaks, but it squeaks and whimpers as the Judge lowers it into a vat of dip. Those cries were the work of relatively unknown voice actor Nancy Cartwright, who would rise to fame one year later as the voice of Bart Simpson.

9. EARLY DRAFTS OF THE SCRIPT WERE DARKER.

The screen adaptation of Gary K. Wolf’s 1981 novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit? underwent quite a few changes before it hit the big screen. Some drafts involved Jessica Rabbit and Baby Herman each turning out to be the story’s villain, Judge Doom revealing that he was the hunter who shot Bambi’s mother, and even Roger’s death.

10. ROGER AND EDDIE HAD FAMOUS STAND-INS FOR TEST SHOOTS.

At various stages in the film’s development, animators put together test reels for studio presentation. An early go at the project employed the vocal talents of Paul Reubens, better known as Pee-wee Herman, for a variation of Roger marked by neurotic stammering. Some time later, Richard Williams (who eventually became Who Framed Roger Rabbit’s animation director) treated Walt Disney Pictures to a taste of his talents via a scene uniting a more recognizable Roger with an appropriately cranky Eddie Valiant. Here, Eddie is played by future The Sopranos star Joe Pantoliano.

11. ROGER WAS MODELED AFTER BIG STARS.

In designing Roger Rabbit, Williams wanted to incorporate elements from classic animation. He has expressed that Roger is meant to embody the production caliber of Disney, the character design of Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes, and the personality and sense of humor of animator Tex Avery. Furthermore, Roger’s anatomy and attire can be broken up by studio influence: His face is meant to resemble a Looney Tunes character’s and his torso a Disney hero’s, while his overalls are a nod to Goofy, his gloves to Mickey Mouse, and his bow tie to Porky Pig.

12. JESSICA WAS INSPIRED BY SOME A-LISTERS, TOO.

While Jessica Rabbit’s principal aesthetic inspiration was the titular heroine of Avery’s famous short “Red Hot Riding Hood,” she had a few human influences as well. Among them were Lauren Bacall, Rita Hayworth, and Veronica Lake.

13. THE FILM SPAWNED THE INDUSTRY TERM “BUMPING THE LAMP.”

For movie animators and special effects artists, the phrase “bumping the lamp” refers to the application of tremendous effort to a particular aesthetic feature that viewers will more than likely never even notice. The saying entered the lexicon thanks to a scene that involved Bob Hoskins’s character repeatedly bonking his head on a low-hanging ceiling lamp, causing it to swing around the room. Animators had to draw and redraw Roger Rabbit in a fashion that was consistent with the rapidly fluctuating illumination of the scene. While the team was well aware that absence of the effect wouldn’t bother most audiences, they were so devoted to their craft that they stuck with it. (You can watch the scene above.)

14. THE FILM FEATURES OVER 140 PREEXISTING ANIMATED CHARACTERS.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is the only film to date to unite Disney mascot Mickey Mouse and Warner Bros. icon Bugs Bunny; the pair shares a scene in the latter half of the movie, merrily skydiving next to an airborne Bob Hoskins.

In addition to Mickey, Disney showcased 81 distinct characters, as well as 14 “groups” of characters (for instance, the titular sprites from the short “The Merry Dwarfs” or the anthropomorphic fauna from the short “Flowers and Trees”) in the movie. Meanwhile, Bugs was one of 19 Warner Bros. characters to get screen time. MGM, Paramount Pictures/Fleischer Studios, Universal Studios, 20th Century Fox, King Features Syndicate, and Al Capp’s cartoons all had characters make appearances as well.

15. THAT SAID, THERE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE MANY MORE CAMEOS.

Although Zemeckis and his crew managed to populate Who Framed Roger Rabbit with a vast array of recognizable characters, their original ambitions were even more sweeping. Contractual issues and time constraints kept characters like Popeye, Chip and Dale, Pepe Le Pew, Mighty Mouse, Tom and Jerry, Pedro from Saludos Amigos, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Witch Hazel, Heckle and Jeckle, several characters from Fantasia, and even Superman from the final cut.

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Pixar
10 Fast Facts About Cars
Pixar
Pixar

Pixar’s Cars was released on this day 12 years ago. So put on your helmets, rev those engines, and let’s take a look at some behind-the-scenes facts about the Oscar-winning animation studio’s fastest-moving film.

1. IT WAS ORIGINALLY AN UGLY DUCKLING-TYPE STORY ABOUT AN ELECTRIC CAR.

Cars started off life as Little Yellow Car, about an electric car that faces prejudice from its gas-guzzling counterparts. Pixar animator/artist Jorgen Klubien, who developed the story during production on A Bug’s Life, was inspired by real-life automotive history from his home country of Denmark.

“In the 1980s some enthusiastic folks got the idea of making a three-wheeled one-person car that ran on electricity,” said Klubien. “They put it into production and it worked great in the city, but out on the highway it was too slow. People also thought the car was ugly. I thought the electric car was ahead of its time, and it struck me as odd that my fellow Danes didn’t agree. It reminded me of The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen. This famous Danish character wasn’t accepted at first, but in the end it proved to be right on the money.”

The story was deemed too slight to carry an entire movie, but the small-town setting remained an inspiration.

2. ITS CO-WRITER/DIRECTOR PASSED AWAY DURING PRODUCTION.

Cars is dedicated to Joe Ranft, the film's co-writer and co-director, who died in a car accident on August 16, 2005—while Cars was still in production. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (2005), which Ranft executive produced, is also dedicated to him.

3. MATER IS BASED ON A REAL-LIFE NASCAR ENTHUSIAST.

The country bumpkin tow truck Mater got his name from NASCAR superfan Douglas “Mater” Keever, whom the filmmakers met while on a research trip to North Carolina’s Lowe’s Motor Speedway (now called the Charlotte Motor Speedway). Keever has a voice cameo in the film, as the motor home who says “Well dip me in axle grease and call me slick” early in the film. (Keever improvised the line, which was originally “Well dip me in axle grease and call me lubrication.” Producer Darla Anderson opted to change it, Keever speculated, because “maybe she thought it sounded sexual, I don’t know.”)

4. MANY AUTO WORLD LUMINARIES LENT THEIR VOCAL TALENTS.

Reigning racing champ Strip “The King” Weathers is voiced by legendary racer Richard Petty, who has the same nickname as his animated counterpart. Weathers’s wife, credited as “Mrs. The King,” is voiced by Petty’s wife, Lynda Petty. Several other automotive notables contribute their vocal talents: announcer/former racer Darrell Waltrip plays “Darrell Cartrip”; Tom and Ray Magliozzi, hosts of NPR’s radio show Car Talk, voice Lightning McQueen’s sponsors, Rusty and Dusty Rust-eze; and racers Michael Schumacher, Mario Andretti, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. voice automotive versions of themselves. (Despite voicing announcer “Bob Cutlass,” sports analyst Bob Costas doesn’t actually cover racing.)

5. SEVERAL ACTORS CHANGED FOR INTERNATIONAL RELEASES.

For Cars’s UK release, Jeremy Piven was replaced as the voice of Lightning McQueen’s never-seen agent Harv by Top Gear co-host Jeremy Clarkson. “The King” was also voiced by different racers in some international releases, as Richard Petty isn’t as well known outside of the United States. In Germany, The King is voiced by Formula One champ Niki Lauda, while in Spain he is Formula One’s Fernando Alonso.

6. MOST CHARACTERS ARE BASED ON REAL CARS.

Lightning McQueen, Mater, and Chick Hicks are all original Pixar designs, but most of the other characters are based on existing cars. Among them are Doc Hudson (1951 Hudson Hornet), Ramone the body paint specialist (1959 Chevy Impala), tire salesman Luigi (1959 Fiat 500), hippie Fillmore (1960 Volkswagen Microbus), military surplus store owner Sarge (1942 Willys Jeep), and Mack, the truck that drives Lightning around (Mack Superliner). Sally, as a 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera, is the only Radiator Springs character modeled after a contemporary car.

7. IT BROUGHT A NEW STANDARD OF REALISM TO ANIMATED FILMS.

Cars was the first Pixar feature to utilize a technique known as “ray tracing,” which properly renders the way light passes through and collides with surfaces. More simply, it enables artists to accurately depict reflections without having to go through and “paint” them individually. Ray tracing takes up a massive amount of computer power; as a result, each frame (or about 1/24th of a second) of Cars took an average of 17 hours to render. Some frames took up to a week.

8. IT WAS PAUL NEWMAN’S FINAL FILM—AND HIS HIGHEST-GROSSING.

Cars marks the final film of Paul Newman, who in addition to being an actor/entrepreneur/philanthropist also became a racing enthusiast after starring in the 1969 racing drama Winning. Cars is also the highest-grossing film of Newman’s career (not adjusted for inflation).

9. ONE OF LIGHTNING MCQUEEN’S CHARACTER INSPIRATIONS WAS KID ROCK.

To help get a handle on the character of rookie racing sensation Lightning McQueen, directing animator James Ford Murphy “put together a series of little bios of great personalities that were really cocky but really likeable.” Among the people he pulled inspiration from were sportsmen Muhammad Ali, Charles Barkley, and Joe Namath, plus musician Kid Rock.

10. YOU CAN VISIT THE MOUNTAIN RANGE THAT SURROUNDS RADIATOR SPRINGS IN REAL LIFE (SORT OF).

The mountain range surrounding Radiator Springs is inspired by the real-life Cadillac Ranch, an outdoor art installation located outside Amarillo, Texas that consists of heavily spray-painted Cadillacs, half-buried facedown in the ground.

Additional Source: The Pixar Touch, by David A. Price

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