Pixar Animation Studios
is an award-winning computer generated imagery
(CGI) animation firm
based in Emeryville
Specializing in high-end 3D computer graphics technology, Pixar is the developer of the industry-standard rendering software RenderMan, used for high-quality, photorealistic image generation.
Pixar started as the computer division of Lucasfilm
. It was purchased by Steve Jobs
and the employees of the division for US$10 million in 1986
, establishing itself as an independent company. The sale was based on George Lucas
' desire to see Pixar succeed on its own, as it was unable to shine in the shadow of Industrial Light & Magic
. The newly independent company was co-founded by Dr. Edwin Catmull
, and Dr. Alvy Ray Smith
, Executive Vice President
and Director. Jobs served as Chairman of the Board
Initially, Pixar was a high-end hardware company whose core product was the Pixar Image Computer, which primarily sold to government agencies and the medical community. While the machine never sold well, John Lasseter began creating short animations, such as Luxo Jr., to demonstrate the power of the system at SIGGRAPH, the computer graphics industry's largest convention.
As poor sales of Pixar's computers threatened to put the company out of business, Lasseter's animation department began
selling commercials to outside companies, including successful campaigns for Tropicana, Listerine, and LifeSavers. In addition, Pixar was key in the development of CAPS, a computer-assisted animation post-production software system for Walt Disney Feature Animation. After substantial cuts to most of the computer department, Pixar began its current life by making a $26,000,000 deal with
Walt Disney Studios in 1991 to produce animated feature films, the first of which was Toy Story. The company was incorporated on December 9, 1995.
Today, Jobs continues in his role as chairman, and is also the company's CEO. Catmull remains president. Lasseter —a
two-time Academy Award-winning director and animator— oversees all of the company's projects as Executive Vice President of the Creative Department. Other notable members
of the executive team are Sarah McArthur (Executive Vice President of Production), Simon Bax (Executive Vice President and CFO), and Lois Scali (Executive Vice President and General Counsel).
Disney and Pixar
All of Pixar's major features thus far have been made in collaboration with Walt Disney Pictures
. All aspects of production (writing, development, animation production, post-production) have been handled in-house by Pixar,
with production costs split between Pixar and Disney. Disney has handled all distribution aspects, including all distribution
and promotion costs. In 1997
, after the release of their initial film, Toy Story
, both companies signed a 10-year, 5-picture deal, in which the two companies split production costs and profits. Disney
alone, however, retained the rights to the films and characters. In addition, Disney collects 10 to 15 percent of each film's
revenue as a distribution fee. http://money.cnn.com/2004/01/29/news/companies/pixar_disney/
The arrangement has been very profitable for both companies, with Pixar's five feature films having grossed more than $2.5
billion. This gives Pixar the highest per film average gross of any production company. The working relationship between Pixar
and Disney will end in 2006 with the movie Cars being the last joint venture between the two companies.
The main contention between Pixar and Disney began with the production of Toy Story 2. Originally intended as a straight-to-video release (and thus not part of Pixar's five picture deal), the film was
upgraded to a theatrical release during production. Pixar demanded that the film then be counted toward the five picture agreement,
but Disney refused.
The two companies attempted to reach a new agreement in early 2004. The new deal would only be for distribution, with Pixar controlling production and owning the properties themselves. As
part of any distribution agreement with Disney, Pixar demanded control over films already in production under their old agreement,
including The Incredibles and Cars. More importantly, Pixar wanted to have complete financial freedom: they wanted to finance their films on their own
and collect 100 percent of the profits, paying Disney only the 10 to 15 percent distribution fee. This was unacceptable to
Disney, but Pixar refused any concessions. Pixar is currently looking for a new company to distribute its films, and many
other firms are eager suitors. Disney retains the rights to all films under the five picture agreement and can make sequels to them. It has begun production of Toy Story 3, without Pixar's involvement.
A movie called Ray Gun was rumored to be released by Pixar in 2007, but latest reports indicate that this will be a 2D feature which Pixar has no interest in developing. Currently Warner Brothers owns the rights to develop this film.
There are several things that Pixar puts in every one of their feature films.
John RatzenbergerJohn Ratzenberger
(most commonly known as Cliff Clavin from the television sitcom Cheers
) is always a character voice, referred to by the studio as their "good luck charm". The following is a list of his
roles in the first seven Pixar movies:
Pizza Planet truck
A rusty Gyoza (the only letters left on the trunk are YO and A, but it's not Toyota
- see links) pick-up truck for the fictional restaurant "Pizza Planet" first appeared in Toy Story
(and again in Toy Story 2
) as a main plot device. The truck also appeared in A Bug's Life
and Monsters, Inc.
just outside a trailer in a trailer park, in Finding Nemo
during the escape plan sequence, and on a freeway in The Incredibles
Every Pixar film has included cameo appearances of characters or objects from their other movies
or short films. For instance, in Toy Story 2
, when Hamm is flipping through the channels, many of Pixar's short films, including Pixar's old logo, were briefly
represented. Also, there are "A Bug's Life" toys in Al's Toy Barn. Also, in that movie when Mr. Potato Head found Mrs. Potato
Head's earring, Mrs. was reading "A Bug's Life" book. At the end of Monsters, Inc.
, Boo plays with a Nemo plush toy and a Jessie doll (from Toy Story 2
in Finding Nemo
, there is a Buzz Lightyear action figure, a Mr. Incredible comic book in the dentist's waiting room and Mike Wazowski
from Monsters, Inc.
can been seen during the end credits swimming through the ocean.
The Pixar teaser trailers always have footage that was created just for the trailer. In the movie,
there might be a scene with similar footage, but the teasers only have a specially created scene.
- Monsters, Inc.: Sulley and Mike stumble into the wrong bedroom. Mike and Sulley
- Finding Nemo: Marlin asks the school of fish for directions and Dory scares them
- The Incredibles: Mr. Incredible struggles to get his belt on.
- Cars: A rusty tow truck talks to Lightning McQueen after the truck hits and kills
a baby bumblebee.
A113 is an in-joke seen in all Pixar films to date save Monsters, Inc.
as well as some Disney
movies and The Iron Giant
. It can be seen as Pixar's version of George Lucas
This is the name of a restaurant on Monsters, Inc.
and was selected as a homage to Ray Harryhausen
, pioneer of special effects on films and stop motion
animation. The name of the restaurant is especially fitting, however, since most of his animation techniques were developed
by animating models of monsters for adventure movies.
Short films ("Shorts")