Lee Unkrich

THE GOOD DINOSAUR

Earlier this week, a rumor began floating around that Bob Peterson, director of Up, would no longer be directing Pixar’s latest (and thankfully, non-sequel) feature, The Good Dinosaur. Well, it turns out the rumors are true – Peterson is off the project. Pixar’s president, Ed Catmull, offered a few words of explanation on the sudden change: “All directors get really deep in their films. Sometimes you just need a different perspective to get the idea out. Sometimes directors … are so deeply embedded in their ideas it actually takes someone else to finish it up. I would go so far as to argue that a lot of live-action films would be better off with that same process.” That description of Peterson as so “deep in [his] film” that “a different perspective” was needed almost makes him sound a little unhinged. Like he chased the rabbit too far down the Good Dinosaur hole and had spent the last several months locked in a supply closet, constructing a crude time machine to get a more accurate representation of what dinosaurs really looked like. But apparently Peterson still has some degree of sanity, as this move isn’t a firing – Peterson will still remain with the studio.

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Pixar Character Logo

If there’s any outfit that celebrates the team sport aspect of filmmaking, it’s Pixar. What began as the Graphics Group at LucasFilm has evolved into its own behemoth of wonder and magic. Not just pioneers of technology, they’ve sought to invent in order to put stories out into the world – using computer animation for the ancient purpose of spinning tales and crafting characters. Led by Ed Catmull, the production house (which was bought by Disney in 2006) boasts luminaries like John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich and many more. There newest film, Brave, is in theaters this week, so here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from RenderMan and company.

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During all the festivities of CinemaCon in Las Vegas this week, the folks at Pixar announced several things. One being that their latest film Brave would help test Dolby’s Atmos format, a revolutionary new sound system that we reported on yesterday. The other — perhaps bigger — announcement is that they gave updates on three upcoming projects, all from original stories and all featuring Pixar veteran directors. Can’t wait to hear about Up co-director Bob Peterson’s dinosaur movie? How about Pete Docter’s trip inside the human mind? Or maybe you’re interested in Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich’s film about Dia De Los Muertos. It’s an interesting slate, about which we’ve compiled all the available details just after the jump.

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Normally, my capacity for interest in “might have been” cinematic trivia is limited to dreaming about the original, darker incarnation of Pretty Woman (just me?), but on certain occasions, other bits of fun knowledge catch my attention. Case in point – last night’s Twitter dump by Lee Unkrich (director of Toy Story 3, co-director of Toy Story 2, and editor of Toy Story) of “also-ran” titles for Pixar’s most beloved franchise. Pixar fans and movie buffs have long known that Toy Story was never meant to be the project’s official title, it was simply used as a working title for the film before Pixar chose something more permanent. The search for an official title led the filmmakers to ask all of Pixar to submit ideas, leading to over 200 possible titles. Yet, none of those titles seemed as appropriate as the deceptively simple Toy Story. Unkrich took to his Twitter last night to share some of those rejected titles, and even this small batch shows the spectrum the submissions ran, from the funny (Toyz in the Hood) to the simple (The New Toy) to the groan-worthy (Rex’s First Movie) to my favorite (Bring Me The Arm of Buzz Lightyear). You can check out the full list of titles that Unkrich revealed after the break.

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If you believe that the ending to Toy Story 3 was perfect, how would you feel about another film in the franchise? Tom Hanks revealed that he believed Pixar was actively working on Toy Story 4, and although the studio hasn’t confirmed the comment, it doesn’t exactly seem out of line considering their current love affair with returning to characters of the past, the amount of money that was made on the last one, and a few other hints and things left unsaid. Director Lee Unkrich commented last year that they would try to find ways for the characters to stay alive (shorts were one method), and Tim Allen even signed a contract for a fourth movie. Apparently he had free time waiting for Galaxy Quest 2 to get ramped up (which isn’t happening but totally should). Although the ending was wrapped up nice and tightly, there’s absolutely narrative room for a return to see what the characters are up to. The question that remains is the same question for all franchises that reach this point: will they overstay their welcome with a fourth film? There’s no real answer, but if Pixar sticks to its guns about creating a movie based on their desire to film a strong story, then it’s difficult to see how it could go wrong. This comes on the heels of Cars 2 hitting toy aisles theaters, but Woody, Buzz and the gang always had more appeal than the giant-eyed automobiles. Still, after an ending so […]

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I’m sitting on the second row of my Senior year English class. My teacher, Mrs. Kallas (which was appropriately homophonic), uses her stringent voice to tell us the story of populism within the universe of The Wizard of Oz. The symbols of the political fight, the shoes, the farming scarecrow, the working tin man, something about William Jennings Bryan. It’s a great story, and all the symbols fit, but it’s not a good interpreation. For some reason, the myth of Wizard being an allegory for populism in the early 20th century has been perpetuated despite the true personal politics of L. Frank Baum. It’s a sign that anything can be read into anything. Enter Andrew Klavan and his editorial about Toy Story 3 as a political message against the politics of the current Democratic Party. Director Lee Unkrich responded to the infantile shoehorning of something relevant into something entertaining by saying, “Really? REALLY? Please keep Toy Story 3 out of your politics,” which is the appropriate response as a creator. Since I’m not the creator, I figured I’d have some fun with the idea and show how absurd Klavan’s article is by doing some shoehorning of my own. Here are three just-as-nonsensical interpretations of Toy Story 3.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr opens up his toy box to look at Toy Story 3D and Jonah Hex.

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Toy Story launched everything, and after millions of fans, billions of dollars in box office, and a shelf full of Academy Awards that might as well be labeled “Reserved for Pixar,” we find ourselves on board a train that refuses to slow down and seems to keep getting better with every new stop along the tracks. I was fortunate enough to speak with Lee Unkrich, the director behind Toy Story 3, and we discussed what makes toys upset, the personal tragedies in life that helped him tell the story, and what Pixar’s goals are for the future.

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You only see a little bit of footage in this new featurette — which debuted at Yahoo! today — but if you’re like me, you might be starting to get the feeling that Pixar’s Toy Story 3 might end up as the movie of the Summer.

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Lee Unkrich

I’m far from a Pixar fanboy, and in fact my position as resident cynic here at FSR has usually found me arguing against the perceived perfection of the critically acclaimed animation studio. And yet Disney’s panel for Pixar’s upcoming Toy Story 3 was one of my favorites of the convention. The reason why can be summed up in two words… John Ratzenberger.

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You wouldn’t think it possible, considering the fact that Pixar has recently taken us to the deep space with Wall-E and to the far reaches of Earth in Up, but I have a feeling that Toy Story 3 might be their biggest adventure yet.

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A few days ago we made mention of the Toy Story 3 trailer, which had popped up on YouTube a bit early. And sadly, it was gone very quickly. But it left with a promise of returning. And return, it has.

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toy-story

It’s likely that Disney and Pixar didn’t intend for the full Toy Story 3 trailer to be online this early, but that’s not really our problem. It’s actually our big win today…

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Right on the heals of releasing their 10th (and according to my review, one of their best) film Up this weekend, the folks at Disney/Pixar have released the first teaser trailer for their next great adventure, Toy Story 3.

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