Good news, Toy Story fans! On June 1st Disney Stores around the U.S. and Canada will be transforming their locations and giving guests the opportunity to enjoy an immersive shopping experience, putting them right into the world of Disney/Pixar’s upcoming film Toy Story 4. Not only will there be loads of games and trivia for the whole family to enjoy, but new Toy Story 4 inspired toys, accessories, and clothing will also be available to purchase in stores.
We only just got our first glimpse of Pixar’s next original movie Onward yesterday, and now Pixar are immediately surprising us with more Onward firsts! On Twitter, they teased us with a ‘magical riddle’ of sorts – if you reply to the tweet and solve it correctly, you’re rewarded with a beautiful poster. And a trailer is coming later tonight…
If you’re not wise enough to crack the code (or if you’re just impatient like us), then have a look at the poster below!
Isn’t it stunning? It looks like the city centre has lost some of the magic that the suburbs are still clinging onto. It’s surreal to see such a civilisation surrounded by jagged mountains and overseen by two crescent moons. Perhaps Onward will explore the fact that our world is a little like this too – huge cities can block out the beauty and wonder that our planet has to offer.
Also, can we just appreciate that van? And that it’s called Valor? What a beautiful paint job it’s had done on it. And look at that magical staff Ian has in his hand!
The excitement doesn’t stop at the poster though – the very first Onward trailer will also air tonight during the NBA final! Stay tuned to hear our thoughts on it, because we’re sure to have many!
Happy 10th anniversary to this masterpiece! I celebrated by watching the movie today, and Joanna posted some of the most unforgettable moments from Up on our twitter feed. There’s so much I can say about Up that would fill pages. I could talk about it for hours, if not days. If I can be honest though, there was a time in my life when I thought Up was childish. This was before I watched it. The trailers for the film did not interest me. The flying house made me think it was over the top silly, something that only children could enjoy. I was wrong of course. Up is for everyone. And that silliness is one of its strengths.
Up is just magnificent. Absurd, devastating, colorful, imaginative, funny (so, so funny), and hopeful. I love how completely bonkers it is, precisely balanced with the heartbreak. It is one the many reasons I love animation so much. Down with realism! I want balloons and flying houses and fantasy and dazzling colors. And just how many movies out there give us triumphant elderly heroes? As big as Up is, it’s also intimate: a meditation on grief that lets us revel in silliness and joy.
Nia wrote beautifully on the wordless impact of Married Life which Pete Docter discussed on Rotten Tomatoes.
In celebration of its 10th anniversary, Director Pete Docter takes us behind-the-scenes of the opening sequence from #Up. pic.twitter.com/3eLvtIgAhF
When Carl finally sees that Ellie did fill up her adventure book, he’s surprised by the snapshots of their life together. All those boring moments that Ellie was wise enough to cherish. Seeing their shared adventure in the film’s opening sequence still inspires me with their inexhaustible optimism. I want to be just like that; cheerful even when life wrecks my carefully laid plans and dreams.
I was lucky enough to see Up in theaters in 2012 after I missed its theatrical run in 2009. I had even brought my dad along. It’s still the only Pixar movie he’s ever seen. He’s simultaneously a curmudgeon and a softie just like Carl. And most of the time, I’m like Carl too. A little withdrawn. (The joint pain also makes me see a kindred spirit in him. I haven’t reached my 30s yet, but still. I’m old). In the foreword to The Art of Up, Pete Docter writes that he wanted to escape the world. It’s a universal feeling. And who wouldn’t want to fly away from all the mess down here? But though Up started out that way, it evolved into something else – something greater. The reality is that we can’t just escape the world like Carl tries to, but Up shows us what we can do instead.
Although Carl and Russell embark on a grandiose adventure on the other side of the world, Up is really about having adventures right where you are. It’s about paying attention to moments we might easily take for granted.
“That might sound boring, but I think it’s the boring stuff I remember the most.”
When you reach adulthood, and sometimes even before, you’re resigned to the mundane. You put away childish things, you stop reading fairy tales, you get settled into the same old routines. But Up tells us to embrace the mundane; the small, simple joys that break up monotony. I think we’ve all just got to make room for adventures both big and small.
Today’s Pixar Heroines installment is a special 10th anniversary tribute to Ellie Fredricksen! Both Simoa and Joanna have plenty to say about this adventure-loving superstar.
Ellie is full of spirit, confidence, and love
I loved Ellie almost immediately. It was when she took off her pilot helmet and all that unruly hair leapt out before getting flattened again. Then she smiled that goofy, toothy smile of hers. I just knew from those few seconds that I would love her. And in that short bit of time, we know that she’s a rambunctious extrovert, but she’s not totally wild. See the way she gently takes Carl’s hand and leads him to his balloon – foreshadowing!
Daniel Lopez Munoz (The Art of Up)
Ellie’s introduction is one of the best I’ve ever seen. From the way she pilots the house when Carl first sees her, to the way she ripped a page right out of a library book. It’s rule breaking that’s so specific to little kids; daring and innocent at the same time. Ellie’s daring, her unclouded belief that she can one day follow in her hero’s footsteps, are qualities I wish I had. She, like little kids all over, believe in the impossible and don’t fool themselves into being realistic. When Ellie demands that Carl take them both to Paradise Falls, I believe that she’ll get them there. More foreshadowing! And even as Ellie grows up, she never loses that spirit; not when life doesn’t go the way she planned and not even when tragedy strikes.
Albert Lozano (The Art of Up)
Our time with Ellie is so brief, but the magic of Up’s “Married Life” montage is that we believe she spent an entire lifetime with Carl. Not only that, but Ellie’s limited screen appearance still made audiences fall in love with her. I fell too, if you couldn’t already tell! She is my favorite Pixar character, even if she only has a few lines and dies so early on. But it’s her spirit that permeates Up. The film does get criticized for its wacky and absurd second act, which a lot of people think doesn’t live up to its first ten minutes. Talking dogs, a chocolate loving bird, flying a balloon powered house to Paradise Falls, who would’ve loved that? Young Ellie, who pretended the dilapidated house she was playing in was a plane, and who used a steering wheel that would later inspire Carl’s own steering apparatus when he got his house off the ground (foreshadowing). And also Older Ellie, the woman who became a zookeeper! And her spirit resides in Russell too. There are little moments that clue us and Carl into his wife’s presence. What would Up be without her? She’s always there even when we can’t see her anymore.
“While Ellie is alive, our color palette is heavily saturated. She brings color into Carl’s life. When she’s gone, the palette is desaturated to shades of gray. When Carl blows up the balloons to begin his journey, we bring back the memory of Ellie through those saturated, beautiful colors. Generally, we show Carl in the dark while Russell is in the light. Russell brings all of Ellie’s color back into Carl’s world.” – Ricky Nierva, production designer (The Art of Up).
Don’t we all want to be like Ellie? And if we can’t be her, have her in our lives? I honestly do get bummed out that I can’t actually hug Ellie because she feels that real to me. And it’s easy to imagine more of her story past Up’s first ten minutes.
I love that Ellie sees life as one big adventure with the people we love and care about. I love that she makes me believe that adventure is not only out there, but all around, right here.
Ernest Nemesio (The Art of Up)
I would be remiss to not include more Ellie artwork! Two of my favorites are by Ronnie del Carmen. Imagine her as an aviator?! Swoon. Becoming a pilot is an ambition of mine, so let’s just say that Aviator/Pilot Ellie means a lot to me.
Ronnie Del Carmen
Ellie is an adventurer, and an adventure!
The audience may only see Ellie for the first 10 minutes of Up, but she still manages to be unforgettable. She is one of, if not the, most important character in the film. And while the audience only physically sees her for that painfully brief time, her presence is unmistakeable throughout the entire movie.
Ellie drives the story of Up, with Carl always looking to her for reassurance and comfort, both during their marriage, and after her death. Pixar even devoted the colour magenta to her, so that each time you see it fade in or out on the screen you’re reminded of her significance. The magenta slowly disappears at Ellie’s funeral, and we’re quickly met with a very faded, desaturated sequence of Carl’s life as a widower. And when Carl bravely sets forth on his journey to Paradise Falls, the balloons are lit up with magenta hues that cast magenta shadows and lights over the buildings and fields below. Carl’s journey is powered by Ellie’s spirit: the spirit of adventure!
The fact that Ellie is so memorable and inspiring is not only a testament to the strength of Pixar’s storytelling, but also to the strength of her character. Ellie is fearless, creative, loving, and confident. She’s an adventurer, and she’s an adventure. She is everything a young wilderness explorer should aspire to be.
“For performing above and beyond the call of duty, I would like to award you the highest honor I can bestow: The Ellie Badge.”
Pete Docter’s daughter, Elie Docter, voiced young Ellie and even drew the childhood art in Ellie’s adventure book!
According to Elie, Ellie nursed wounded pigeons after they were hit by boys’ slingshots, which is “really something only a kid would do.” (Take note that Carl and Russell would never hit birds with slingshots!)
Ellie, like Charles Muntz, was shaped like an exclamation point when she was young because she wanted to be an adventurer. “…sort of light on her feet and lifting up into the air.” – Albert Lozano, designer
The Ellie Badge is one of the Easter eggs in Toy Story 4!
Meet the cast of Pixar’s 2020 feature film – a family of elves! People has the exclusive and even sat down with director Dan Scanlon who shared more details about Onward. The film stars Tom Holland and Chris Pratt as elf brothers living in a fantasy suburbia. Julia Louis-Dreyfus will appear as the pair’s mother. Octavia Spencer also rounds out the cast, but we don’t know yet what role she’s playing. And now here’s what we’ve all been waiting for, images from the film itself!
I like it! The premise is new territory for Pixar and siblings are at the center. I’m digging the clothes on the elves, and the fact that they have cars and dragons in their world. As Scanlon describes it, the brothers are on a quest to find out if magic still exists.
Ian (Holland’s character) is the younger of the two. He’s shy and awkward, while Barley, the older brother (Pratt), is much more outgoing and wild.
Of the film, Scanlon says:
“My hope is some of the questions that I’m asking in the film will be questions other people are asking about their own lives. And I think that’s what a lot of the times gets us to connect to a movie.”
We’ve got lots of questions of our own, and can’t wait to get more answers over these next couple of months! Onward will be released on March 6th, next year. Let us know what you think of it so far.
A new Toy Story 4 clip has been released! In “Meet Forky”, we see the toys react to Forky being brought home by Bonnie from kindergarten. This is a clip we’ve seen parts of from different trailers and TV spots, but it’s great to see it in full. Watch below:
It seems that Bonnie isn’t exactly allowed to bring toys with her to school, but she managed to sneak Woody in with her anyway. But he might have been confiscated (that means ‘taken away’)! The familiar crew of toys are as charming as ever – it may have been coming up to 25 years since the first Toy Story movie came out, but the characters still feel fresh and true to themselves. Rex in particular has outdone himself with some great lines in just a 1-minute clip.
Woody is very encouraging and gentle as Forky nervously steps into the world of ‘being a toy’.
Seeing a full clip makes Toy Story 4 feel so close, mainly because it is close! You can even book your tickets now.
In Toy Story 4, filmmakers needed new locations for the characters to inhabit, characters that the audience has grown up with and loved. It makes sense for the Toy Story universe to expand beyond a child’s room, a toy store, and a daycare. The latest film brings the toys and the audience to unexplored places.
Thomas Jordan, Stephen Karski and Rosie Cole present, as seen on the Toy Story 4 Long Lead Press Day, on April 3, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)
Pixar’s sets department, comprised of 30 people, was responsible for making the two newest sets for the film: the antiques store and the carnival. To borrow from sets supervisor Stephen Karski, we take these places for granted. Toy Story 4 however, allows us to see them from a totally new perspective.
The Antiques Mall
We were given a glimpse into Second Chance Antiques (established in 1986, which makes it the same age as Pixar) when we met Gabby Gabby, but how was it created? Pixar films always involve research trips, and the same is true for Toy Story 4, even if antique shops and carnivals aren’t all that exotic. The artists and technicians are still committed to delivering authenticity without straying into realism. It’s truth to materials once more. Production designer Bob Pauley described some of the results of these trips to local antique stores.
“We discovered a lot of charming, interesting, and fun people running them, and many visual similarities from store to store. There’s often a spotlight, a juke box, sometimes a big plastic Santa and of course lots of collectibles and real antiques.”
Second Chance is not only where we meet Gabby Gabby, but it’s also where Bo Peep spent so many years. Just like any character, the store has its own backstory and unique history. Since a majority of these antique shops were once other things, Second Chance was once an appliance and department store all in one. Sets art director Dan Holland refined the final design of the store, which he first visualized as either a car manufacturer or a furniture store.
Cameras were placed on the ground for the toy’s point of view. The scale determined how big the store was in relation to both toys and humans. Stephen Karski let us in on one of their key goals with the antiques store: constantly reinforcing to the audience, both consciously and subconsciously, that we are getting the toy’s eye view.
Rosie Cole as seen on the Toy Story 4 Long Lead Press Day, on April 3, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)
Sets technical director Rosie Cole designed the set modeling and dressing for Second Chance Antiques, which involved arrangement of the furniture, as well as arranging the items in a random order that was still cohesive and appealing. The antiques store also resembles a city, and each neighborhood has a specific theme. A warehouse of props, many of them from previous Pixar films, also filled up Second Chance. It’s the perfect set to go hunting for Easter eggs! Cole, whose family owned an antique store, grew up in one, and so she was familiar with all the hiding places.
The antiques store also has a staggering level of detail which further lends it authenticity. Director Josh Cooley challenged his crew to add an extra layer of age, history, and wear – as seen in the film still below. Those cobwebs and scratches serve a purpose and there are lots more in Second Chance Antiques.
And those cobwebs? They were made by spiders. Not real ones, but a computer program of artificial intelligence spiders. Pixar’s advancements in technology never cease to amaze. According to Thomas Jordan, they never would have finished the film if they had to make those cobwebs themselves!
Toy Story 4‘s second set also provided ample opportunity to introduce a familiar world that was still new. The carnival just made sense in relation to the story. Screenwriter Andrew Stanton put it this way: “If you think about it, a carnival has the cheapest, saddest, most disposable toys known to man.” Carnival toys are a parallel to the ones in an antique store, too.
There was just one research trip to a carnival in the nearby town of Walnut Creek. Photos of carnival rides served as reference for the ones in the movie. But there were also other factors that had to be accounted for, ones which the audience won’t even think about. How is everything powered and how do the crowds of carnival goers not get in the way? And there are also the trash cans – good for humans, but perfect for toys; more hiding places.
Cole worked on the game booths for the carnival, arranging the toys by theme, but also varying their shapes and sizes. A childhood love of antique carousels also motivated her to design the one in the film. They filmed the inside of the carousel too, making sure that all of the working parts moved correctly.
There’s a level of detail in these sets which hasn’t been seen before in a Pixar film. Bob Pauley noted that not many will notice all of the details, but they remain necessary anyway. Karski told us that the crew is passionate about taking the audiences to places we can’t normally go and experiencing them through our favorite toys. Pixar movies often transport us to vast places both real and imaginary. In Toy Story 4, the familiar is made brand new.
Advance tickets for Toy Story 4 are now on sale! Get yours today!
Sporks are going to be the newest sensation, thanks to Pixar. Typical of them, right?
THREE-IN-ONE – He’s not a fork. He’s not a spoon. And most of all, Forky is not a toy! At least that’s what he thinks. Bonnie created him from an assortment of supplies Woody’s retrieved from the kindergarten trash can. So, it’s no wonder Forky feels strongly that he’s trash and not a toy.
I got to make a Forky of my very own while at Pixar! Mine was a bit plain, but then his eyes became lopsided and he started to resemble Bonnie’s Forky. Just a little bit. I regret not taking advantage of all the glitter we were given.
Animator Claudio De Oliveira supervised our arts and crafts session, and he walked us through Forky’s creation. The studio’s artists made many versions of the spork-turned-toy before settling on his final design.
De Oliveira began by focusing on Forky’s limitations because ideas would flow from there. And flow they did. Truth to materials is the principle that was touched upon repeatedly in each presentation, and that’s what Forky’s design adheres to as well. De Oliveira had to explore the ways Forky would be able to convey emotion with his minimal movement. Since he has googly eyes he doesn’t blink, and he has to move a certain way because of his plaster/Popsicle stick feet. At first, De Oliveira was somewhat ambivalent about the character because he wasn’t sure how Forky would be powerful, but his potential was unlocked when De Oliveira was working on him at home. Suddenly one of those googly eyes moved and Forky was alive!
But it was Tony Hale’s performance that added the extra bit of life and emotion. Seeing him in the recording booth was honestly such a treat. His expressions provided a wealth of inspiration for animators.
“Tony’s performance as Forky is a comedy salad of confidence, confusion and empathy…served by hilarious spork.”
Claudio De Oliveira presents details about the creation of the character Forky, as seen on the Toy Story 4 Long Lead Press Day, on April 3, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)
The most side splitting moments of the film, at least of the footage that was screened, involve Forky saying ‘trash’ with longing and jumping into any available trash bin. And actually getting to see Hale squeal and shout just that one word made me laugh even harder as I pictured the movie scenes. Gaining sentience positiviely freaks Forky out, which is why he’s so adamant, in Cooley’s words, “to fulfill his purpose as a spork, but now has a new toy purpose thrust upon him.”
So can you guess where my Forky ended up? That’s right, the trash. He didn’t survive the airport (his legs broke off), and then eventually the rest of him did too. There’s no doubt in my mind that movie Forky would have welcomed such a fate. How does he even stay intact through the entirety of Toy Story 4 anyhow?! There are so many more questions about Forky, too. Producer Jonas Rivera addressed these concerns in a recent interview with Yahoo! Sports. Though Rivera cautions us not to think too deeply about the logistics of the toy/Toy Story universe, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.
“[Forky] is a wrench thrown into the works of the Toy Story universe.”
Now I can’t help but think of an actual wrench with googly eyes and pipe cleaner arms…
Forky creations are photographed on April 4, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)
The Toy Story 4 art gallery, as seen on March 18, 2019 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)
Getting to make a Forky of my own made me feel like a kid again. And I’m pretty sure lots of people, including adults!, will be gluing googly eyes onto sporks after the film is released. De Oliveira was able to share Forky with his family too. His young children made their own versions of the character and were so ecstatic about him that it’s clear Forky is going to be a memorable and beloved addition to the Toy Story family. What’s more, he also spoke about how young kids will be able to connect to the character because they can make Forky themselves. This idea is further reinforced by Bonnie. She made Forky on her first day of kindergarten when she was feeling anxious, and he instantly brought her joy and comfort. Because Forky is so important to Bonnie, Woody makes it his mission to keep him from harm. And the trash.
Toy Story 4 comes out exactly one month from today, and to mark this, Pixar have released their final trailer for the eagerly anticipated sequel. And guess what? It’s incredible! You can watch it below:
There’s a lot to take away from this trailer: instantly classic lines from old characters, some more glimpses of all sorts of beautiful scenery, a better idea of the plot, and a few moments of wonderful humour. Pixar are always great at teasing us with new footage but not spoiling the whole movie for us.
The trailer alone really demonstrates how much Woody’s character has evolved over the years. He’s gone from selfless to a fault (“Andy needs me!”) to just…admirably selfless (“Bonnie needs Forky!”). He’s still the same old toy, with the same qualities, but he’s learned from his mistakes over the years.
Seeing Bo in different scenes with interesting lighting shows off how Pixar have managed to update her ‘ceramic look’. It’s stunning. And the way Woody is looking at her, I think he might agree.
It’s not all fun and games though: those terrifying ventriloquist dolls (Gabby Gabby’s henchmen?) look like they’re heading towards being even scarier than the cymbal monkey in Toy Story 3.
We have a feeling that this month will just fly by. We’ll all be queuing up to see Toy Story 4 on June 21st before we know it!
It feels like it was only yesterday that Up premiered in cinemas and we fell in love with some of Pixar’s most iconic characters: Carl and Ellie Fredricksen, Russell, Dug, and of course, Kevin. It’s unfathomable to think it’s been 10 years since we all laughed, cried, and went on one of the biggest adventures of our lives as we followed Carl on his epic quest to reach Paradise Falls.
There are obviously a lot of amazing things about Up that still hold the test of time: the breathtaking reveal of Carl’s balloon house as it soars out of the city for the first time; the sweet depiction of Dug and his adoration for his humans; even the delicious villainy of Charles F. Muntz. But the greatest part about Up, and one of the finest moments in animation history, is the opening sequence, otherwise known as Married Life.
What makes the sequence so special is the fact that Up’s director, Pete Docter, decided to tell the story of Carl and Ellie’s relationship without dialogue. I’ve always been a firm believer that you don’t need dialogue to tell a story – so much can be achieved with a subtle glance or the character’s body language, how they carry themselves across the screen or interact with the world around them, that 10+ pages of dialogue can never achieve.
The Married Life opening depicts the entirety of the couple’s relationship without words but through images of their life together, little snippets of the good and the bad parts of any relationship – starting from Carl and Ellie’s wedding and ending with Ellie’s funeral. Their relationship could’ve spanned at least half of the film, there’s even a feature length film in there somewhere about the duo, but it was told brilliantly in less than five minutes. We didn’t need dialogue to tell us that Carl and Ellie were in love and what they went through in the course of their time together. Instead, with the clever way the talented folks at Pixar animated the sequence, we saw their love for each other in the brief glimpses of their relationship as they built their dream home and worked at the zoo. We saw their hopes about the future and their goals of traveling to South America and starting a family. We saw how they were able to overcome adult problems like home-owning and having a flat tire, and we even saw their struggles with infertility and how that affected them both in different ways.
Another reason why Married Life works so well is because of Michael Giacchino’s heartbreaking score; the sequence simply wouldn’t be the same without it. If you closed your eyes while listening to Giacchino’s Married Life theme, you could almost picture the story, scene by scene, in your head. The melodies that follow Carl and Ellie on their journey together are simple and just as unique as the old-fashioned couple; the score perfectly follows the ups and downs of their relationship, giving us some lighthearted and catchy tunes while also pulling at our heartstrings at the more somber moments. Michael Giacchino even went on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Score for his work on Up at the 82nd Academy Awards.
I have no doubt in another 10, 20, or even 30 years, the Married Life sequence in Up will still break our hearts and fill us with as much joy and devastation as it did the very first time we watched it. The opening sequence is a testament to the brilliance of animation and that with this art form, there are SO many ways to tell a story; not everything has to involve dialogue or spelling it out for the audience.
So, happy 10 Year Anniversary, Up! And congratulations again to all the amazing and incredibly talented people who worked on the project many moons ago. Adventure is out there!