Pixar And The One That Got Away

Cars is rubbish. So it may be many a child’s favourite flick. But Pixar have always said they want to connect with adults and children alike, and they’ve somehow missed the mark on the adult-front with this one. Compared to the conglomerate ground-breaking bar-raising nature of all other Pixar ventures, Cars sits painfully, and retributive at the bottom of the pile. Why? Maybe it’s simply Owen Wilson’s name printed awkwardly on it. As an audience, the public trust Pixar and everything they produce wholly 100% because unlike their rivals at DreamWorks who are obsessed with profit, they consistently create ground-breaking and affecting animation.

Pixar’s first full length animated feature, Toy Story, was also the world’s first. Released in 1995, the final installation of their first trilogy arrived in 2010 to deafening success. And it seems such a trend is set to continue when Cars 2 is released in the US on June 24 and in the UK on July 22. They’ve always released a feature film once a year, and like a top-up in a card game, Monsters Inc. 2 is set for 2012. It’s only a matter of time until both films receive a third instalment.

Image via Rottentomatoes.com

Steve Jobs was 21 when he founded Apple, and by the age of 30 he was of course a multimillionaire. But not many people know that he was heavily involved in Pixar’s formative years. He invested $10 million to launch Pixar as an independent film studio, and oversaw the production of their first film in 1986: Luxo Jr.

Early incarnations of the famous Pixar studio campus involved John Lasseter and only two other animators sharing a computer in a hallway, he’d often sleep under his desk on a mattress at the end of the day, get up, and start animating again.

Former CEO of Pixar Animation Studios Steve Jobs, with Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook and Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter

After this, Pixar ventured into commercial advertising in a bid to stay afloat. Furthermore, their technical team worked around the clock designing innovative software in a bid to ease the animation process. They came up with the Oscar winning Renderman, which is now the industry standard used in classic cinema like Jurassic Park, Forest Gump to place Tom Hanks seamlessly within historical footage, and most recently Inception.

Their now 21-acre studio campus was once upon a time a Del Monte fruit cocktail factory, and has always been heavily protected from the intrusion of outsides. So much so, that they never accept scripts or ideas from outside their legendary walls. Now, courtesy of CarpetBagger, we’ve been allowed exclusive access which proves to be an amazing insight into the mythical Pixar working environment. Watch out for the animator who has a secret lounge behind the bookcase in his office…

Excusing the first two Shrek chapters and Sacha Baron Cohen’s depiction of King Julian in the Madagascar films, DreamWorks have always suffered at the mightier animating hand of Pixar in almost all aspects of film-making.

In the battle of CGI animation production companies DreamWorks have always been inferior to Pixar, despite Shrek 2 once bearing the title for highest grossing animated film of all time. But since the rivalry began in 1998, Antz was always a far weaker rip-off of A Bug’s Life, just like Finding Nemo embarrassed Shark Tale later on. And whilst the first two Shrek outings were total blinders, the third was an inanimate mess with no obviously natural storyline progression within the plot.

This is the hurdle Pixar utterly soared over, with the third Toy Story instalment clinching the highest-grossing-animated-film-of-all-time in the process. The rivalry is amusingly summarised here, and it is apparent that for the lesser studio it has always been more of a question of quantity, both in terms of profit and films seemingly made on a production-line, over quality.

Cars 2 hits cinemas on June 24th 2011.

-By James Godwin, February 26th, 2011

Copyright © 2011. James Godwin. All rights reserved.