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Win your own Blu-Ray copy of The Good Dinosaur! (Closed)

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Posted by Phileas • February 29, 2016

Win a Blu-Ray copy of The Good Dinosaur

To celebrate the release of The Good Dinosaur on DVD and Blu-Ray, now available in the US, and available in the UK on March 23rd, Upcoming Pixar is giving you the chance to win your very own Blu-Ray + Digital HD copy of Pixar’s epic foray into the adventures of Arlo & Spot!

We have one Blu-Ray copy of The Good Dinosaur (in Region A or B) to give away to a special Upcoming Pixar reader. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post below, answering the question: How has Pixar inspired you to make your mark?

Entry submissions are now open (February 29th) and will close Wednesday March 9th at 11:00PM Pacific. We can’t wait to read your responses!

Update: Congratulations to our winner, marcomboy! Stay tuned for more giveaways throughout the year, and thanks for reading Upcoming Pixar!

Competition rules apply and can be read via this link.

 

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Upcoming Pixar Interviews Peter Sohn For The Good Dinosaur Blu-ray Release

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Posted by Nia • February 19, 2016

It’s easy to get carried away during the excitement of the award season here in Hollywood. Amid the buzz of the upcoming Oscar ceremony, Disney/Pixar held a press day in Los Angeles to celebrate the Blu-ray and Digital HD release of their 16th feature film The Good Dinosaur.

The film will finally be coming to Blu-ray and Digital HD on the 23d of February. I had the opportunity to interview director Peter Sohn about the The Good Dinosaur‘s overall production process and it’s Blu-ray release.

Image via Disney/Pixar

Image via Disney/Pixar

What is your favorite part of the filmmaking process? And more specifically, what’s your favorite part about working on an animated film?

My favorite part has continually been getting to work with all of the amazing artists up at Pixar. On every film there you’re collaborating with a lot of talented and creative people, and for me I live off of it. I can’t tell you how much fun it was, from department to department, to get to know what people love, what people don’t like, and trying to find ways to make the best film that we could. My favorite part of making an animated movie definitely is the world building and the character building. There’s nothing that comes for free in animation. You literally have to build everything from the ground up and in doing that, there are so many “what if” questions and exploration you can do that’s really fun. Once you get down to making a character come to life there’s nothing more exciting.

And what is the most challenging aspect of making an animated film?

I think it has to do with the same thing I’ve always said: trying to tell the best story possible. The story reels in an animated movie have to be very tight because you have to draw every shot out. It’s all going to be made and then worked on, so you don’t want to get that wrong. You really focus on those reels and trying to tell a story within the reel. You’re just constantly putting it up and then taking it down, putting it up and then taking it down again, and that’s very difficult. It’s an important one for animation.

What are some inspirations for you as a storyteller?

I love watching other movies, diving into other art, and being inspired by what other people have done. When it comes down to it, the more I’ve been doing this job, the more living my own life has become a real inspiration. Finding out about other people, other cultures, other traditions; finding out about who I am and how I fit in the world has all been really great.

Were there any westerns that inspired the overall look of The Good Dinosaur?

There were locations that were really an inspiration for the movie. In Shane, Dancing With Wolves, and Heavens Gate there was beautiful cinematography. There was a lot of inspiration that came from stories as well, different types of stories, like E.T. or Black Stallion. But when it came to the true Western inspiration, nothing beat the real thing. We did a lot of research going out to Wyoming, Oregon, and Idaho; that gave us our greatest source of inspiration.

How long did it take to develop the look of The Good Dinosaur? What type of new technology was used in developing the backgrounds, FX, etc?

I can’t give an exact date, but I can tell you this whole film was made in less than two years. When we first started talking about this, one of the things I wanted to try was making nature a real character in this movie. I don’t mean it had eyes or a mouth, but that Arlo could feel it and nature would become an antagonist throughout the film. It was really interesting because if you make nature a character, you really have to focus on it. The Good Dinosaur is a movie about Arlo and how he is growing. It was always about that back and forth between Arlo and nature; how nature tests Arlo and how Arlo learns to love nature. There’s a lot of technology that was involved in bringing that to life. First of all, water is very difficult to do in computer animation and the river would become Arlo’s yellow brick road that he needed to follow back home. So we had a lot of water in this film! There was a lot of new technology to bring that to life and all of the characteristics of water. For example, when Arlo was terrified or scared we really wanted the river to be kind of broiling so that it was almost parallel to what Arlo was going through. When Arlo got closer to nature, closer to Spot, the river would be peaceful and calm. We wanted to create a world that was big in scopes so that we could really dwarf a creature as large as a dinosaur. That meant kind of making the world feel 500 miles bigger in all directions. That was no easy feat. There was new technology built in terms of pulling out geological surveys, and understanding how the river erodes in nature. We also started building tiles. We started building hundreds of square miles of tiles that we would kind of stamp out into the horizon line and from there propagate rocks and trees. The technicians at Pixar came up with math that said, “OK from 400 feet high it will be snow. From 400 feet below it will be this type of tree, and then below that it will be water.” That’s just a really simple way of describing how the artists came up with ways to fill out the world.

What sparked the concept/initial story?

It was really Bob Peterson’s first pitch about a boy and this dog, then flipping it where the boy is the dinosaur and the dog is this human boy. That was the initial pitch and that kind of set everything off. Bob would ask me to come help and soon after that we talked a lot about how this relationship could work, and how the evolution could work. It’s impossible to have humans and dinosaurs together so that opened up the bigger concept about what if the asteroid had missed the earth. So it all kind of stemmed off there and we continued to dig deeper to find the story.

Is there a character you see yourself in the most? Why?

I see myself in Arlo a great deal; in all aspects of my life, from growing up to even making this film. Funny enough, when I was asked to direct The Good Dinosaur I was terrified, I was really scared. With the great support of friends and other directors I felt more confident, and the love for these characters and this movie kept me going through it.

What kind of behind the scenes footage do we except to see on the Blu-ray?

You know what’s great is that you will be able to see some of the footage of our research trips that really inspired the look and the characters of the film. There’s one in particular that’s close to my heart, and it’s the documentary on the McKay’s – this Oregon family that we met and I can’t tell you how much they changed the feeling of the movie and changed my life.

Thanks again to Peter Sohn for his time and for all the folks at Pixar for inspiring us all with The Good Dinosaur. The film is out on Blu-ray and Digital HD on Tuesday, February 23rd. Be sure to check back with us at Upcoming Pixar for a Blu-ray giveaway!

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Pixar President Jim Morris Gives Insight Into The Studio’s Creative Process

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Posted by Nia • February 9, 2016

Courtesy of Time Out: Hong Kong and Disney/Pixar.

Jim Morris has been president of Pixar Animation Studios since 2005. He came to Pixar after working for a lengthy period at Lucas Digital. While at LucasFilm, he helped make a slew of films including Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Star Wars; just to name a few. During a recent interview with Time Out: Hong Kong, Morris gave readers a little glimpse behind the scenes of Pixar and what it takes to create the animated films the studio is most famous for.

One of the main discussion points during the interview was the fact that Pixar, for the first time in the studio’s history, was able to release two feature length films in 2015. According to Morris, Pixar’s original plan was to have at least one original film every other year, followed by a sequel every other year.

“It’s been a bit of a challenge this year. We’re actually finishing films every eight months. We have enough production capability, but unfortunately that is not the issue! The issue is having the stories developed to the right point so we have enough content to make the films. That is the tricky part. It’s worked out fine so far. It does make a crunch with publicity; everyone gets spread a bit thin. But we’re feeling okay, we’re not at the point of regret, yet!”

The most important aspect behind every Pixar film is undoubtedly the story. Each Pixar film has been able to stand alone because of the unique characters that come along with the blend of animation and technology. In the scheme of storytelling at Pixar, the first step to launching a thousand feels is the emotional core behind each story.

“Usually the first thing that comes is an idea that engages the director. I would say there is some emotional core that motivates them to want to tell a story, and later we can infer a theme from that. Inside Out is an easy one to talk about – [director] Pete Docter was wondering why his daughter had changed. It started out as that core idea, but it evolved. It went through so many iterations. After we have that starting point, the characters get forged from that, and then more about the setting and the world gets forged from that.”

Storytelling aside, actually getting the film up on it’s feet after the initial concept is approved is tough enough. Most of the hours put into a film at Pixar exceed Walt Disney’s standards for his classic, 2-D animated films.

“Something most people don’t realize about our films actually is that, even though the computers are doing the animation, our average film takes 20,000 person-weeks to make. And that is probably a little bit more than most traditional, hand-drawn Disney films took. The amount of labour it takes to make a film like this is huge – the textures and scenes are painted by hand. Our joke used to be that we are where high-tech and low-life collide.”

There has been some criticism towards Pixar for it’s lack of women directors. Brenda Chapman has been the only female director to take the helm of a feature film for 2012’s Brave, but due to creative differences she was replaced by Mark Andrews halfway through production. Morris brought up that Pixar is indeed trying to fix this problem and make the company more diverse in regards to more opportunities for female storytellers.

“One thing we’re trying to do is to expand the roster of directors. We’re trying to build the next generation and make the company more diverse, to get a breadth of voices to tell a range of stories. We’re 37 percent female at the moment, and we’d like to be 50 percent. We don’t have a lot of turnover at Pixar though, which makes that somewhat challenging!”

Before concluding the interview, Morris was able to dish that there is some NEW original content in the works for a series of films on top of the already scheduled (and very anticipated) studio line-up.

“We have a bunch of confirmed titles. There’s Finding Dory later this year. We’re working on The Incredibles 2Cars 3 and Toy Story 4. Dan Scanlon, who did Monsters University is working on an original film. Mark Andrews, who directed Brave, is working on one, too. We have a new director called Brian Phee, who is working on a new movie, and we have a few shorts that are in the works. I can’t say much more than that or I’ll get in trouble!”

It’s certainly strange thinking that far into the future about films at Pixar, but exciting to know there is some awesome content brewing at the studio and a new director in the loop. Be sure to check out the rest of the interview with Jim Morris over at Time Out!

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Pixar wins big at the Annie Awards

Annie Awards, Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur

Posted by Simoa • February 7, 2016

Awards Season is currently in full swing, with the Oscars airing at the end of the month. While the Oscars are notorious (among other things) for the lackluster treatment they afford animated features, the Annie Awards are solely dedicated to the medium and the hundreds of artists responsible for animated films. Directors of animated films are also nominated, unlike the Oscars.

The 43rd Annie Awards were held last night, and not surprisingly, Pixar took home plenty of awards. Inside Out was the big winner with ten! The ten include best animated feature, best writing (Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley), and a best voice acting prize for Phyllis Smith, who played Sadness. Inside Out also won for character animation, character design, directing (Pete Docter), music (Michael Giacchino), production design, and storyboarding.

While Pixar’s other 2015 film, The Good Dinosaur, was overlooked at the Oscars, it rightly won the award for animated effects in an animated production. It was too much to hope for a best cinematography nod at the Academy Awards, so recognition at the Annies is surely appreciated.

“Sanjay’s Super Team” is the only Pixar production that didn’t win. The award for best animated short subject went instead to Don Hertzfeldt’s bizarre and lovely “World of Tomorrow”. Maybe “Sanjay” isn’t a favorite for the Oscar, but that hardly matters when discussing the film’s groundbreaking and artistic merits.

Congratulations to the cast and crew of Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur for their much deserved wins!

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Pixar at the Oscars

Academy Awards, Animation, Inside Out, Interview, John Lasseter, Jonas Rivera, Lava, Michael Giacchino, Pete Docter, Pixar, Sanjay's Super Team, Short Film, The Good Dinosaur, UP

Posted by Nia • January 16, 2016

Congratulations to the talented folks at Pixar for receiving not one but THREE Oscar nominations during Thursday’s announcement. Inside Out was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film and also scored a nomination for Best Original Screenplay; it will be the only animated film competing in that category. Sanjay’s Super Team took home a nod for Best Animated Short Film.

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"Sanjay's Super Team" Comes to the Con ? Director Sanjay Patel and producer Nicole Grindle are taking Pixar Animation Studios' new short to San Diego's Comic-Con International next month for its North American premiere and a peek behind the scenes of the production process. The Super Story Behind the Pixar Short "Sanjay's Super Team," slated for Thurs., July 9 at 11 a.m. in the Indigo Ballroom, Hilton Bayfront, reveals the unique inspiration for this incredibly personal film that features superheroes like never before. The short debuts in U.S. theaters in front of Disney-Pixar's "The Good Dinosaur" on Nov. 25, 2015.

Via Disney/Pixar

It was indeed great news hearing that Pixar was nominated for several awards, but it’s also hard not to acknowledge the slight disappointments regarding snubs to both The Good Dinosaur and Lava. In an ideal world, all four films released from the studio would have been nominated for Oscars. They all followed the Pixar standard of challenging both art and technology, paving the way for future animated films. The Good Dinosaur alone was revolutionary in it’s technical aspects and successful blend of animation against hyperrealistic backgrounds. Lava also showcased stunning backgrounds that were brought to life through the use of song; depicting the romance between two volcanoes without dialogue but only through a love ballad. Lava‘s catchy song was clearly absent from the Best Original Song nominees. Also missing from the Best Original Score category was Michael Giacchino’s beautiful work on Inside Out.

In the past, an animated film has even been nominated for Best Picture, such as Pete Docter’s last film Up. If an animated film can be nominated for Best Picture, then it’s director should also be recognized in the Best Director category. Inside Out was incredibly inventive and something we haven’t seen before. It cleverly took us inside the mind of a young girl and created relatable characters out of her emotions… not to mention simultaneously hitting us all with a wave of childhood nostalgia. Docter spent 4+ years working on the film; from writing the screenplay, approving every minute detail most audience members might miss, to even guiding a brilliant team of artists into crafting his vision. That time frame is longer than most live action directors work on a film.

In an interview with Screencrush, Pixarian Kelsey Mann explains why animation directors are just as worthy as notable live action directors in receiving acknowledgement from The Academy:

“From the ground up, directors at Pixar are in charge of everything from the story to the individual blades of grass. We start from nothing. Literally nothing. And it all has to be built from the ground up. And Pete is involved in every decision.”

Slowly audiences (and even The Academy) are beginning to realize that animation isn’t only for children, but it’s an art form entirely of it’s own; crafting stories a thousand times better and more original than most of the live action films released in Hollywood. Here’s hoping that one day an animated film will not only be nominated for Best Picture again, but will win it too.

We will definitely be keeping our fingers crossed for Pixar to take home all of the awards on the February 28th Oscar ceremony.

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Inside Out wins Best Animated at the Golden Globes!

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Posted by Simoa • January 12, 2016

Not surprisingly, Inside Out won the top prize at the Golden Globes this past Sunday. If you’re like me and missed the telecast, you can watch Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera accept the award here.

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via Disney-Pixar

We want to congratulate Pete, Jonas, and the entire crew for the much deserved win. It’s definitely more reason to jump for Joy!

Here are Pete and Jonas backstage with the Globe.

via Disney-Pixar

via Disney-Pixar

Click the photo for the original instagram post.

As 2015 was the first year with two Pixar films, both Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur were nominees at the Golden Globes and could be “competing” once again at the Oscars next month.


The list of Oscar nominees will be announced on January 14th. Check back here to see if both Pixar’s films are in the race once more!

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Pixar in 2015

Inside Out, Lava, Pete Docter, Pete Sohn, Pixar, Pixar in 2015, Sanjay Patel, Sanjay's Super Team, The Good Dinosaur, Toy Story, Toy Story 20th, Upcoming Pixar

Posted by Simoa • December 29, 2015

2015: the first year with two Pixar releases, significant especially when you consider their yearlong absence following 2013’s Monsters University. But the two feature length films – Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur – represent a lot on their own besides Pixar’s return to the silver screen.

InsideOut53a470f0039ddPixar’s short films this year were significant too. “Lava”, a tribute to the Hawaiian islands and music from director James Ford Murphy, premiered with Inside Out this summer. Though seven minutes long, it’s Pixar’s first full fledged musical. Pixar’s anthropomorphic characters have long been personified since Luxo, but no Pixar character, human or otherwise, has ever sang before! It’s almost unavoidable to compare this short to “The Blue Umbrella”, which also concerns two living objects finding love, but the love story in “Lava” is on a grander scale. The short’s subject matter is somewhat divisive, but it does provide breathtaking visuals. Can we expect more Pixar musicals? Seems likely!

“Sanjay’s Super Team” however, is unlike anything Pixar has yet produced. In the visual department, it’s a sumptuous blending of 2D and 3D with eye watering colors and excellent character designs. Still images prove to be as dazzling as the film in motion.

SANJAY'S SUPER TEAMSANJAY'S SUPER TEAM

It’s not only the gorgeous art style that makes this short film so phenomenal. This is the first time a Pixar film has featured a person of color. If “Lava” could signal more musicals, “Sanjay’s Super Team” could do the same for more diverse characters and perspectives in Pixar films. John Lasseter has said as much about broadening the studio’s canon. Most notably, director Sanjay Patel, joining Peter Sohn as the first nonwhite directors to helm Pixar features, drew on his childhood experiences to tell this story.

SANJAY'S SUPER TEAM

This is a deeply personal, heartfelt story about little Sanjay’s struggles to distance himself from his father’s customs. It also mirrors the struggles of adult Sanjay, who was initially reluctant to show something so personal, but who was convinced in the end by his father and Lasseter. The short’s seven minute run-time produces an expertly crafted narrative with glimpses of the Hindu faith. The audience may be strangers to Hinduism, but we can understand Sanjay eventual appreciation of his father’s inner world and how both father and son bond at the short’s conclusion. And for us first generation American kids, the short film is especially meaningful. “Sanjay’s Super Team” is truly a bold step in the right direction.

Click through to read the wonderful responses!

Click through to read the wonderful responses!

2015 also marks 20 years of Toy Story, the first full length Pixar creation as well as the first computer animated film. We recently asked our readers to share their memories of the film; an exercise in nostalgia. But nostalgia aside, Toy Story brims with a timeless appeal. A revolutionary success in 1995, expanding the boundaries of animation and technology, it’s as beloved today as it was twenty years ago.

Earlier this month, Toy Story at 20: To Infinity and Beyond aired on ABC. Strikingly, none of the Pixarians expected the movie to ever become as big as it did. There were constant roadblocks to success and they had to take untested leaps of faith in order to create the movie they believed in. Toy Story and Pixar are world renowned today. That both came to be because of naive risk-takers is inexpressibly inspiring.

The third installment also celebrated five years back in June. Toy Story 3 was the impeccable finale to a trilogy about a motley band of toys and the boy who loved them. Us 90s kids, particularly the ones looking ahead to college, could see ourselves in Andy. Woody, Buzz, Slinky, Rex, Hamm, Potato Head, Jessie…those were our toys. The third film was a bittersweet goodbye to childhood, but not to Woody and the gang.

June 18th was Toy Story 3‘s fifth year anniversary date. Inside Out was released in theaters the following day.

poster 3A film that ventures into the mind of a preteen girl is a tall order, especially when the filmmaker is a man. But Inside Out was borne out of Pete Docter’s desire to better understand his daughter.

The film is really framed as a struggle for parents. Joy, exuberant and star shaped, dominates Riley’s Headquarters. Her number one priority is to keep Riley happy at all times, which ultimately unravels in the wake of chaos from major life transitions. Joy’s attempts to push Sadness away not only speak to parents wishing to shield their children from pain and Sadness, but to everyone who does the same.

This is perhaps the first film, animated or otherwise, that places less importance on attaining happiness, and more on learning to embrace Sadness. It’s such a simple idea; it’s OK and even necessary to be sad. But too often we struggle in vain to never feel sad at all times.

INSIDE OUTInside Out could prove to be as revolutionary as Toy Story, if not more so. This is a remarkably inventive concept; one that further proves animated films can indeed have depth and still be entertaining. And just like the 1995 film, neither Pete Docter nor anyone else expected it to resonate as it has. Could they have known that those struggling with mental illness would be able to use the film to explain the conflicting array of their own emotions? Or that it could be used to help children identify their emotions and learn that the negative ones are beneficial too?

Imagine if your emotions cared about you. (Oh Anger, you do care!) Imagine that your emotions are these distinct personalities made up of glowing particles that help you navigate the world. Imagine you have Personality Islands that power you up, explain your passions and longings. Imagine all the bright, clever silliness of an elaborate Pixar world juxtaposed against a somber coming-of-age tale.

INSIDE OUT - Pictured: Joy. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

INSIDE OUT - Pictured: Joy. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Growing up is often devastating. The equilibrium of Riley’s mind gradually collapses – she loses Joy, interests, and friends. Her islands of personality literally crumble and fall away, disappearing forever into the yawning abyss of the memory dump. Suddenly Riley isn’t the same little girl anymore. What a bleak vision of adolescence. But though the process of growing up is painful, messy, and requisitely sad, the rewards are abundant. Riley’s mind does repair itself after all. Through adversity, her inner life is strengthened.

Inside Out is important for its focus on a young girl. Riley isn’t ever boxed into any wrongheaded notions of femininity or lack thereof. She’s just allowed to be a person who’s also a girl. There were skeptics when the film’s premise was announced, those who believed that a film focusing on a girl’s feelings would reinforce cliché stereotypes. But the film proved those skeptics wrong. The mundane realties of a preteen girl on the brink of leaving childhood are given weighty consideration. Mindy Kaling, providing vocal work for the fabulous Disgust, put it best: after reading the script, she tearfully told Docter and producer Jonas Rivera that making a film that says it’s OK for girls to be sad about growing up is profound.

INSIDE OUT

And it passes the Bechdel Test by placing Joy and Sadness at the center; two female characters fighting to protect a young girl. Two female characters who are both flawed, yet earnest and nurturing. The film also offers a quiet, yet resounding affirmation that girls, and everyone, but girls especially, can feel a multitude of ways. And to think this came from Pixar, the boys studio.

Inside Out is arguably Pixar’s most ambitious project since 2009’s Up, which was also directed by Pete Docter. Like Up and Docter’s other film Monsters, Inc., it achieves a seamless balance between absurdity and heartbreak. It’s really nothing short of astonishing. The technical aspects are a marvel, it being the most vast, complicated set that’s yet existed in a Pixar film. That’s to say nothing of the actual story which accomplishes a major feat. It shows us something we all know but have never seen, and it’s a fun, exciting, emotional journey.

On opening day, AMC Theaters screened a brief video in which Docter thanked audiences for watching the movie. It was such a humble, surprising gesture. The video isn’t available to watch online unfortunately, but here’s what Docter had to say:

“Movies, like the ones we make at Pixar, are made by people. And the reason we make them is to talk to folks, to share something about our own experiences of life and to pass that feeling onto others. But that doesn’t happen unless there’s someone out there to listen. I feel so lucky to make movies, and on behalf of everyone at Pixar and Disney, we want to thank you for coming to watch our work. Movies have the ability to take you to different worlds, make you laugh or cry, and remind you you’re alive. None of this would happen without you. Thank you for coming, and we hope you enjoy the film.”

This is the first time a Pixar director has done something like this, and it made Inside Out screenings all the better. Thankfully it wasn’t the last time, as Pete Sohn also introduced The Good Dinosaur to audiences when that film premiered in November.

Sohn described growing up as a child of Korean immigrants and how that helped to inform Arlo’s story. His mother’s TheGoodDinosaur5612ef11d27c8English was limited. When he went to the movies as a child with his mother, Sohn often had to whisper translations of what was happening onscreen to her. But this wasn’t the case with most animated movies. In movies like Dumbo, neither words nor translations were needed. Animation is a universal language that everyone can understand. Sohn wanted to recreate that kind of wordless beauty for this film. He wanted to show how two characters could communicate without speaking the same language and how poignant that communication could be. And in The Good Dinosaur, Spot’s inability to speak only lends more authenticity to the primal bond – and love – that he shares with Arlo.

It’s definitely not an exaggeration to say that people were expecting The Good Dinosaur to fail. Its troubled production history worried a lot of people, particularly because veteran Pixar filmmaker Bob Peterson was unceremoniously removed from the director’s chair. While fans were concerned and saddened, they were confident that a good movie could still emerge. Others were far more cynical, certain that moving the film from its original May 2014 release date to November 2015 spelled disaster. The first year without a Pixar movie? Here Pixar was failing in a very public way, and some people felt it was justified comeuppance.

The Good Dinosaur isn’t the first Pixar movie to be scrapped halfway through production and to switch directors. It’s been done twice before with stellar results (Toy Story 2 and Ratatouille). Even Brave and Cars 2 were worthy if flawed efforts. But there are those who think the film did fail, especially since its story was so simplistic, threadbare even, compared to Inside Out’s voluminous narrative.

But here’s something people don’t seem to realize: Pixar shouldn’t be expected to reinvent storytelling with every single film. Leave the ambitious flair to Inside Out; the second Pixar feature of 2015 does something quite different, even if it isn’t groundbreaking. (And in less noticeable ways, it actually is).

THE GOOD DINOSAUR

The Good Dinosaur’s premise is original. Dinosaurs never went extinct. And that’s not all. The herbivores evolved into farmers while the carnivores like T-Rex are now ranchers. The movie even turns into a western halfway through! In this delightfully bizarre setting, an uncomplicated story begins to evolve. Given the movie’s prehistoric timeline, the straightforward storytelling makes sense. The Good Dinosaur eschews glossy modern appeal to tap into something so much more earthy and primitive.

The movie isn’t primitive simply because dinosaurs still roam the earth. It’s that barrier between languages that makes it so. It isn’t wordy, which is so refreshing. Arlo and Spot start off as enemies. Pixar films are usually about the unexpected friendship between two characters and it’s a trope they pull off extremely well, because the results are different every time. But the stakes are higher in this film because of that language barrier and the harsh world that Arlo and Spot inhabit. They depend on each other for survival, but it grows into something more. Understanding begins to blossom between them in ordinary and profound ways. They become each other’s surrogate family although the world would discourage it. Even if the time and the story are unsophisticated, there are still some potent, timeless takeaways to be had.

This film is a study in brilliant contrasts; cartoony dinosaurs juxtaposed against hyper real, painterly animation; unvarnished story juxtaposed against magnificent artwork; a huge, frightening world that is tranquil and still. There are quiet moments within even as the danger threatens our timid dinosaur hero and his ferociously endearing human boy (two characters who are brilliant, surprising contrasts as well).

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And yet, for all its oddity, The Good Dinosaur is grounded in realism and emotional clarity. Nature is pristine and gorgeous, but also a formidable foe that must be reckoned with. Arlo and Spot bond over their loss of family without ever needing words.

Here’s a movie with talking dinosaurs and a wild boy that doesn’t resort to scatological humor in order to hold the attention of the youngest audience members. Here’s a movie with talking dinosaurs that’s possibly the most sensitive, tender story Pixar has told since their first film twenty years ago.

To borrow from Poppa, sometimes you gotta get through your expectations to see the beauty on the other side.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our coverage of Pixar’s awesome year. Check back here for what’s ahead as we leave 2015!

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Review: Sanjay’s Super Team and The Good Dinosaur

Pete Sohn, Review, Sanjay Patel, Sanjay's Super Team, Short Film, The Good Dinosaur

Posted by Simoa • November 24, 2015

Remarkably brief, “Sanjay’s Super Team” weaves together a story so unlike anything Pixar has ever produced. Quite a feat considering that it’s a short film. It probably would have made a better pairing with Inside Out back in June, because the volcanoes and prehistoric world of “Lava” would have suited The Good Dinosaur better. Nonetheless, “Sanjay’s Super Team” is a real, wondrous delight.

Based on a true story from director Sanjay’s Patel’s childhood, it involves a prayer ritual with his father. Sanjay is dressed up like one of his favorite cartoon superheroes, and has little interest in his father’s tradition. He wants to watch the caped heroes on TV, but his father calls him for prayer. Sanjay reluctantly joins him, bringing his action figure along. Sanjay soon becomes immersed in his father’s prayers, imagining himself with the three Hindu gods. They become even more heroic than the cartoons he loves so much.

In the small cabinet where Sanjay’s imagination and the deities come alive, it’s a vibrant world. The gods glow in translucent shades of blue, pink, and green. It’s a great contrast to the rather drab and ordinary world of the family living room. Even if you don’t practice the Hindu faith, the story is universal. Sanjay learns to appreciate and take pride in his culture. The photographs featuring Sanjay Patel with his father at the short’s conclusion may also make you feel a little misty eyed.

And now for the main feature!

65 million years ago, dinosaurs never went extinct. That’s the initial premise of The Good Dinosaur, but rather than show the immediate aftermath of the asteroid passing, the story takes place millions of years later still. The dinosaurs continued to evolve and now they’re farmers. It’s a concept that would lead you to scratch your head, but an original, intriguing one that surrounds a familiar story. TheGoodDinosaur5612ef11d27c8
A newly growing Apatosaurus family are the farmers here. Poppa (Jeffrey Wright) and Momma (Frances McDormand) are expecting three baby dinos to hatch from their eggs. First is Libby, who is mischievous from the moment she hatches. Buck is second, breaking through his egg feet first and charging about. One of the film’s early funny moments centers on Buck finding a stick and gleefully whacking things with it, like his father’s leg and the last, unhatched egg. This egg is the largest of the three and houses a baby dinosaur much smaller than Libby and Buck and already much more timid. This is Arlo. Right away his entry into the world clues us into a key idea: the world is much too big for little Arlo.
Soon Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) grows, and along with Libby (Maleah Padilla) and Buck (Marcus Scribner), works on the family farm. Each is assigned a task. Libby and Buck excel in their respective roles, but not Arlo. He’s always messing up his chores (along with everyone else’s), and he scares too easily. This fact is not lost on Buck. It seems that Arlo is never going to make his mark. Literally, it’s an imprint or paw print made on the silo built by Poppa to store their food. Libby and Buck along with Momma and Poppa have made their marks on the silo and in the more figurative sense.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR - Pictured (L-R): Momma, Poppa, Arlo, Buck, Libby. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Poppa aims to help Arlo make his mark and get through his fear. Poppa loves Arlo tremendously and believes in him too. When the young dinosaur is too scared to try or see past his fear, Poppa encourages him. He can sense Arlo’s potential. “You’re me and more.” is a beautiful line that really stands out. It’s meant to give the young dinosaur confidence. It also solidifies Poppa’s love for Arlo and his belief in him.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR - Pictured: Spot.

After Poppa, Arlo forms his most meaningful relationship with a feral human boy named Spot (Jack Bright). The two meet under less than ideal circumstances and Spot frightens Arlo at first. Though tiny, he’s ferocious, but adorable too. Spot moves like an animal and as director Pete Sohn said, “It’s really fun to push Spot’s canine quality. We want it to be clear that he reacts like an animal in the beginning, but there’s a boy deep, deep down.” Though he belongs to the wild, Spot is very much a regular, rambunctious little boy.
Arlo meets more friends and foes along the way. The T-Rexes are the most impressive of the bunch, friendly and fearsome. These rexes are ranchers who herd longhorns and they agree to help Arlo find his way, but not before he gives them a hand with their lost herd. What’s so inspired about the rexes is that they move like cowboys but in a believable way. Those famous little arms really do resemble cowboys in their movements. The rexes help Arlo overcome his fear while also letting him know that fear isn’t the worst thing. And they’re such a funny, memorable group. Butch is the father, voiced by Sam Elliot, and speaks in a rich baritone voice that recalls steely cowboys in westerns. It’s quite a perfect match. Anna Paquin as Ramsey, Butch’s daughter, is totally convincing with her twang. AJ Buckley as Ramsey’s brother Nash is also excellent.

A TRIO OF T-REXES - An Apatosaurus named Arlo must face his fears (and three impressive T-Rexes) in Disney•Pixar's THE GOOD DINOSAUR. Featuring the voices of AJ Buckley, Anna Paquin and Sam Elliott as the T-Rexes, THE GOOD DINOSAUR opens in theaters nationwide Nov. 25, 2015. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The score by Mychel and Jeff Danna is fantastic, giving the movie its western sound to match the look.

Like most Pixar films, The Good Dinosaur is a buddy picture about two unlikely buddies. The progression in Arlo and Spot’s eventual friendship happens in such an organic way. Spot as the human takes on the role of dog, and just like a dog, he’s fiercely loyal to Arlo. The latter too becomes a protective “owner.” Both support each other and learn quite a lot. Spot doesn’t speak, so there are moments within the film with absolutely no dialogue. One scene in particular, with its wordless poignancy, will have you reaching for tissues.
The Good Dinosaur is also about self-discovery. Arlo is making two journeys; one back home and one to find himself. It sounds cliché, but the script by Meg LaFauve pulls it off. Arlo is able to tap into that unknown potential Poppa wanted to draw out. This is his journey from timidity to confidence. Arlo gets to prove himself and show that he is indeed made of so much more.
The story here isn’t particularly groundbreaking, but it is deceptively simple. A boy and his dog, a journey of self-discovery, and learning to see through fear – these three main ideas play out against a backdrop of stunning visuals. The real strength of The Good Dinosaur lies in the artwork and designs. Wide shots feature the most breathtaking, expansive scenery. Jaw dropping is another apt descriptor.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR (Pictured) The T-Rexes. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR - Pictured: Arlo. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Early on, Sohn stressed the fact that nature was another character, an antagonist. This world is perilous, filled with frightening beauty. “We didn’t want it to feel like a walk in the park. This world feels big – even to a dinosaur.” Arlo actually figures so small in the foreground that the size of the world is quite overwhelming. It’s rather striking that such a huge, unpredictable landscape could lend itself to moments of stillness and silence. There are sequences that allow you to just take in the scenery, admire simple but gorgeous details on leaves and the glassy surface of a lake.
A film about dinosaurs and a small boy who acts like a dog could easily turn trite in the hands of lesser filmmakers. But The Good Dinosaur is somewhat unexpected. The jokes and gags aren’t ever forced. There’s even one surreal sequence that sent the audience at my screening into hysterics. And who could forget, “This is Dream Crusher. He makes sure I don’t have unrealistic goals.”?
We may never know what Bob Peterson’s original film looked like, but I’m confident that Pete Sohn and his crew gave us another stellar Pixar feature. This film is a sleeper hit. I wouldn’t be surprised if people overlooked or ignored it in favor of Inside Out. Their loss, really. This is such a tender, moving film, one that examines the love between two friends and shows just how vulnerable and sensitive little boys and dinosaurs can be. The Good Dinosaur is indeed good, and more.

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New U.S. Theatrical Trailer For The Good Dinosaur Released

John Lasseter, Pete Sohn, The Good Dinosaur, Trailer

Posted by Nia • October 7, 2015

Yesterday Disney/Pixar released a brand new theatrical trailer for The Good Dinosaur, which has gotten practically everyone (if they weren’t already looking forward to the films release) incredibly excited for this colorful prehistoric world to explore.

The premise of The Good Dinosaur has always been simple: “What if the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs missed?” Not only does this new trailer give us a closer look at the relationship between Arlo the Apatosaurus and his cave-boy friend Spot, but we also get to hear more dialogue from Arlo. The trailer gives us more of an introduction to Arlo’s family and a plethora of other dinosaurs; including a T-Rex named Butch that Arlo meets on his journey with Spot.

Despite all of the new dialogue, the most thrilling aspect of this trailer is the interaction between Arlo and Spot. One of the best things about animation has always been the ability to tell stories without dialogue. WALL-E eloquently succeeded in telling a simple story about two robots in love without a word (save for the end of the film when the robots are on Axiom). Even the first five minutes of Up was able to tell the entire story of Carl and Ellie’s relationship without the two characters talking to each other. It’s interesting to think about how the storytellers at Pixar will achieve depicting the friendship of a dinosaur and a cave-boy. From the trailer alone, we see that the two characters don’t really speak the same language but based on their physicality, they’re able to communicate with each other.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to The Good Dinosaur and who knows what kind of adventures await us come November 25th. T-Minus 48 days and counting. Are you guys ready?

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New trailer and poster for The Good Dinosaur

Pete Sohn, The Good Dinosaur

Posted by Simoa • September 23, 2015

Pixar’s second film of 2015 is due in theaters in just over two months! I think we’ve had enough time to recover from Inside Out before The Good Dinosaur wallops us in the tear ducts. So far, just one trailer was released, but now a second international one is here. We get to hear more dialogue and meet one of the T-Rexes that accompany Arlo on his journey along with Spot. We also learn how Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) is separated from his father Poppa (Jeffrey Wright).

The details on that T-Rex are astounding! Here is an Australian poster featuring the carnivores with Arlo and Spot. Pixar Post The Good Dinosaur Australian Promo Poster

As with the first trailer, this one already caused some tears to well in my eyes. The Good Dinosaur is a film about family and loss. Knowing how Pete Sohn’s personal experiences informed the story is also worth noting.

Sohn reminisced about going with his mother to the Chase Manhattan Bank as a child to deposit the weekly earnings from the family’s shop: she would hold back enough for two cinema tickets, and afterwards, on the way home, they would see a film together. Because his mother spoke only limited English, often Sohn had to whisper his own interpretation of the dialogue and plot points in her ear, in Korean. But during some films – and they were normally animations – he remembers both of them laughing, and occasionally shedding a tear, in unison, with no translation required.

That type of nonverbal storytelling is classic Disney, and exactly what Sohn wanted to bring to The Good Dinosaur after being handed the film’s reins: “that idea that two people who don’t speak the same language can still connect ended up driving the entire, rewritten movie.” (via The Telegraph)

Be sure to see The Good Dinosaur roar into theaters this Thanksgiving! And check back here for more updates and news.

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