13 Things I Noticed While Rewatching ‘Toy Story’ As An Adult

22 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Best idea wins’: how Pixar grew up.

Released on Nov. 22, 1995, the movie told from the perspective of toys marked the first full-length, computer-animated feature film from Pixar. It was the first Pixar film, the first entirely computer generated animated feature and the first animated flick to garner an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay.

On November 22, it will be exactly 22 years since the American release of Pixar’s Toy Story, the world’s first computer-generated (CG) feature film. By the time “Toy Story 3” rolled around, it collected $1 billion in ticket sales, becoming the highest-grossing animated film at the time (now trumped by “Frozen”). And movie producers aren’t ready to put the money-making franchise to bed as “Toy Story 4” — which follows a romance between Woody and Bo Peep — is set for a 2018 release.

The years in between have seen the studio grow from a scrappy, little-known operation to the most celebrated animation house in the world, possibly even the most celebrated movie studio of our time. Even if it weren’t the first film in a new era of animation, and the inaugural film of the now gigantic, beloved Pixar, Toy Story would still be — and still is — a fantastic movie. A Reddit post believes the dad was killed in the line of duty, thereby creating Andy’s deep attachment to Woody and Buzz — male toys that represent law enforcement. “If there was a dad in ‘Toy Story,’ the boy would not have had such a need for a doll who represents a kind of authority figure, like Buzz,” Matthew Luhn, Pixar story supervisor, told the Jerusalem Post.

Lasseter famously turned Katzenberg down, explaining, “I can go to Disney and be a director or I can stay here and make history.” The Disney executive settled for the next best thing: a movie deal with Pixar, the first of which would be Toy Story. I’ve literally seen this movie hundreds of times, because as a toddler I used to watch the movie every single day without exception for a year, as my mom recently reminded me. Tinny, the main character from the short, was pushed to the background in favor of space explorer Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), who doesn’t realize he’s just a toy. And Woody (Tom Hanks), originally conceived as a ventriloquist’s dummy, was changed to a cowboy, an idea Lasseter supported because he liked the juxtaposition of the sci-fi and Western genres. Initially the company made computers; when that venture proved unsuccessful, it moved into creating CG animation for commercials, hiring ex-Disney animator John Lasseter.

But neither side liked that version, especially its lead character, Woody, who tyrannized the other toys. “It was a movie filled with the most unhappy, mean characters I’d ever seen,” Lasseter said of that early draft. There are lots of silly, loud moments, lots of colourful characters and of course the whole movie revolves around toys, so there’s an entire line of merchandising that comes alongside it (all of which I still own somewhere, probably).

At that point, “they gave us two weeks,” Lasseter recalled to Britain’s Guardian in 2009. “At that point we just said: ‘Let’s ignore what they’ve been telling us and make the movie we want to make.’ We came back in two weeks and they were shocked.” In the new script, Woody was written less mean and more magnanimous. (That’s probably for the best, because it’s hard to imagine Hanks playing a despot.) Pixar’s animators, also keen to be part of history, struggled to give the Toy Story world “a sense of history” with banged-up doors and scuffed floors. The points it makes about friendship, about moving on, about growing up, and about change, are surprisingly honest and not sugar-coated for a young audience. But Ed challenged me and said, ‘Let’s try to do everything with the computer.’ ” Ed Catmull co-founder and president: “John was the only animator here and we could never have made it to feature films with him alone, but by doing commercials we could bring in new talent.” Lee Unkrich editor: Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo; co‑director: Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo; director: Toy Story 3: “When I first joined Pixar we were in rented office space in an industrial park and it was a very small operation. [Pixar] sold 3D software, it was making commercials and doing a lot of varied stuff.

More recently, 2010’s Toy Story 3 perfectly paralleled the growing-up of its original audience and definitely got you choked up, unless, of course, you’re a liar. And it said, ‘Why don’t you just make it for us?’ That opened the door for Disney to think of these ‘niche’ animated films that could be done.” After Pixar won its first Oscar for the short Tin Toy, about a wind-up toy being terrorised by a toddler, Ed Catmull pitched to Disney the idea of making a 30-minute television special based on it. Catmull: “Peter Schneider [the producer of Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast] said to me, ‘If you can do a half-hour, you can do 70 minutes.’ So I thought about it for about one nanosecond – like, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ ” Lasseter: “We knew what computer animation could do. Thankfully, Toy Story remains not just one of the best films of its kind, but one that can be enjoyed time and time again, whether you’re young or young at heart so …

Humans were by far the most difficult to create, so we told the story from the toys’ point of view.” Andrew Stanton director: Finding Nemo: “[Originally it was] sort of a Rip Van Winkle story. This little tiny toy gets left on the side of the road at a rest stop and goes on a road trip to find his owners, and he bumps into this hand-me-down ventriloquist’s doll who tries to help him. It was very convoluted, but we thought it was great at the time.” Christine Freeman Pixar archivist: “There are so many different iterations of what Buzz and Woody might have looked like.

It was hard to believe in him as the most popular toy in the bedroom.” Freeman: “There are characters that didn’t make it: a fox puppet and a floppy puppy, a tiger teething ring. As traditional hand-drawn animation was becoming less profitable, attention turned to Pixar as the future of the medium. : “I vividly remember having dinner with Steve Jobs in San Francisco [just before the release of Toy Story]. I remember standing outside the restaurant afterward and he said, ‘John, at Apple the lifespan of a computer is maybe three years; after five years it’s a doorstop. Then we could have faded from existence and that would have been the end of Pixar.” Lasseter: “It was really with the second movie that it was different. We had Pete Docter [Director of Monsters Inc., Up and Inside Out], we got Brad Bird [Director of The Incredibles] in and started building a studio where multiple filmmakers made movies.

We lost control of it.” They assembled The Brain Trust, the pet name for the original Pixar filmmakers: Lasseter, Unkrich, Docter, Stanton and Joe Ranft, a beloved story supervisor who sadly died in a car crash in 2005. Stanton: “Getting together in the room again, thinking like Toy Story filmmakers, sort of unlocked these ideas…that would never have come up if we hadn’t all worked and think-tanked together on the first one.” [To Infinity and Beyond] Unkrich: “I remember something said by Steve Jobs…There was a point where we thought we’d figured the story out and could do to it, we just didn’t think we had enough time…We all had to collectively hold hands and gulp and do it. The idea is to make an original film every year and a sequel every other year.” Lasseter: “When any other company has a hit it madly starts developing a sequel to capitalise on it.

We’re not conforming so well to the Hollywood sequel model.” Unkrich: “If you look at the movies Pixar makes you don’t see any other studio taking those chances. Newt, announced in 2008, was due to be a romantic comedy about two newts who were the last of their kind and brought together to mate, which they were not keen to do. It’s been hard for as long as we’ve been telling stories and just because we have a bunch of hit films it doesn’t mean it gets any easier or we’re any more expert at it.

I think we’re just more resilient to the pain and know it comes with the territory.” Lasseter: “We’re always challenging the story…We have a discipline that every 12-16 weeks we watch the movie’s story reels in a theater. There were so many pressures on that film and the fact that it came out as well as it did and was so well regarded both critically and by audiences around the world, I count my lucky stars every day that that film worked out as well as it did.” Lasseter: “Well, Lee did an amazing job.

There were some people who were cynical about us returning to Toy Story but those are great characters and it’s a great world… When you define what makes a good movie, it’s the story and characters. Peter Sohn: “All Pixar movies begin with a ‘What if?’ The Good Dinosaur started with, ‘What if the meteor that killed the dinosaurs missed?’ In the film they became this very agrarian society.

On Good Dinosaur it was big and we reworked the whole story based on the original concept.” Lasseter: “The one fundamental difference between now and when we started on Toy Story is experience. It’s all trying to get to the best story possible.” Unkrich: “The world will never know the specifics of what [The Good Dinosaur] went through to get to where it is, but I do and I’m especially proud of knowing the challenges that it had.” Pixar has announced a release schedule up to 2020. The slate includes sequels to Finding Nemo, Cars, Toy Story and The Incredibles, plus the original film Coco, a story about the Mexican Day of the Dead, directed by Lee Unkrich.

Lasseter: “What’s really special about Pixar is that it’s a film-driven studio and every movie is original, every movie is coming from a small group of filmmakers. On that side it hasn’t changed all that much.” Denise Ream producer: Cars 2, The Good Dinosaur: “I think everyone’s excited to see what comes from this new generation. To be honest, women had been coming up through the tracks that would take them to directing, [but] we haven’t had a huge number in the animation business.

But we need to do a better job with it.” Following his last directing job on 2011’s Cars 2, John Lasseter will be returning to filmmaking with Toy Story 4 in 2018. Nobody at Pixar, nobody at Disney, because we didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up…” Morris: “I know that in the age of new media this sounds a little old-school, but we just want to keep making cool movies that people want to see.

They’re big films but they’re ultimately personal stories.” Lasseter: “I remember I had this great opportunity once to meet a family whose grandmother was a cel painter on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs all those years ago. That’s the way I want the families of anyone who works on our movies to feel one day.” To Infinity and Beyond: The Making of Pixar Animation Studios, Karen Paik; Entertainment Weekly, John Young, 2011; Entertainment Weekly, 1995; cnet.com, Richard Nieva, 2015; LA Times, 2015, Susan King; The Verge, Bryan Bishop, 2015

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