Pixar

Ever since Pixar’s Toy Story brought CG animation to the mainstream and dropped everyone’s jaws with the amazing visuals that the process makes possible, traditional, hand-drawn animation has taken a serious backseat. Which makes sense, because the last couple decades of animated movies have used computers to push the artistry of these films to places that never seemed possible before. But hand-drawn animation has its charms, and is still very versatile in how it can be used, so it would be a shame if it went completely extinct in the wake of all the new computer whatsits. Disney has recently tried to keep the art form alive with releases like The Princess and the Frog and Winnie the Pooh, but those films largely failed to find the commercial success of most of the modern CG releases. Could it be possible that today’s children just don’t want to go see a movie that looks hand-crafted and old-fashioned? Or have moviemakers just not found the right vehicle with which to have old-school animation make its triumphant return? DreamWorks Animation seems to be willing to bet that the old way of doing things isn’t dead, and they may have found the best possible way to reintroduce hand-drawn work to a new generation of film fans. The studio’s next project, Me and My Shadow, will blend traditional animation with the more modern stuff. Over on the film’s Facebook page (found via ComingSoon) they’ve posted its first bit of concept art, as well as an […]

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Magic Kingdom

According to Jon Favreau, the world will have to wait for Magic Kingdom, and that’s a good thing. In an interview with Crave, the director noted that his past three films (Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens) have all been made under the gun of a release date and preliminary poster art. It’s arguable that that rush had an effect on overall quality. By “arguable,” we mean, “almost assured.” Of course, Pixar is happy to help with the methodical, only-when-the-story-is-ready approach. “What we’ve been doing is writing a script, going up to Pixar, meeting with the brain trust, coming back down, bringing on artists, story editors and putting it together as though it were an animated film so that by the time we actually film it, we’ll have a rock solid story,” Favreau said. Of course, it’s in no way an official Pixar film, but Disney seems keen to use them and John Lasseter as a valuable creative resource.

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Eagle-eyed fans of Pixar can tell you that the studio is a big fan of littering their movies with Easter Eggs; which is a fun way of saying they stick junk from their past films in the background of their current films. Most prominently, they have a long standing tradition of hiding the Pizza Planet truck – which first appeared in the original Toy Story – in every film that they make (other than its strange snub in The Incredibles). Want proof? This Pixar Wiki entry on the truck has compiled a screen grab of each case of this rusty junker showing up in a Pixar product. But what about Brave, you may be asking? Well, the film has been out for a couple weeks now, and Walt Disney Studios seems to be worried that people are going to stop talking about it, so they’ve emailed around some handy screen grabs that point out the secrets they have in store for us this time around. Both come in the scene where the film’s princess protagonist, Merida, visits the wood carving shop of the tricky old witch she strikes a deal with. The first image, which should come as no shock, features Toy Story’s now iconic pizza delivery truck. Look, it’s right there sitting on her workbench:

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The Dark Knight Rises Billboard

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly commitment. We want you to have a rundown of the best articles of the day. Newsworthy, opinionated or otherwise, we count down today’s best because we owe it to you, our beloved reader. We begin this evening with the coolest piece of Dark Knight Rises marketing that you’re likely to see, courtesy of the folks at /Film. Spotted at the intersection of Sunset and La Brea avenues in Hollywood, this billboard is not a graphic, but an actual billboard that appears to have exploded into the shape of the bat symbol. And here, we thought Christopher Nolan wasn’t down with 3D.

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Brave

Brave has already made a milestone for Pixar as it marks the 13th straight release to debut at #1. No surprise for a brand that’s loved around the world and continually crafts memorable movies that resonate with children and old children alike. But where does it rank against other Pixar openings? According to numbers from Box Office Mojo, The Movie Formerly Known as The Bear and the Bow made $66.7m domestically in its first weekend, making it the fifth highest in the production company’s history. Here’s the full ranking:

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Pixar Scenes We Love

The love of discussing movies is something you and I share, dear reader. Otherwise, what the heck are we doing here? And with few exceptions, there isn’t any kind of film that I love talking about more than the various works of animation created by talented artists, renderers and storytellers throughout the history of the medium. Few do it better and merit as much discussion as the folks from Emeryville, California’s own Pixar Animation Studios. And with the release of their 13th film this week, a princess story called Brave, it’s reason enough to discuss some of the best individual scenes from the Pixar catalog. Personally, I’ve never been hooked on franchise pieces like Toy Story or Cars, but have always loved Pixar’s more stand-alone efforts. Many of which, as you’ll see from the assembled list, come from visionary storytellers Brad Bird, Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter. These filmmakers and their teams have pushed the envelope, even inside the already expansive confines of Pixar’s world. From their films I’ve assembled six Scenes We Love from the films of Pixar Animation Studios. It may not be the definitive list, but it’s certainly the one that lives within my own movie-loving heart.

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Brave

As an entertainment company, Disney has never been short of stature in a few key areas. Most notably, they’ve always been good at selling fantastical stories and moving movie-sized boxes of merchandise in their wake. They built an entire theme park around their properties, constantly move home video releases in and out of a metaphorical vault, and they always seem to come up with stories that serve two purposes: capture the adoration of youth and then get them to convince their parents to buy them things to fuel those fires of love. And for years, fairy tales and princess stories have been their bread and butter. Conversely, the folks at Pixar have always marched to a slightly different beat. They’ve always simply made stories they thought were fun, not that they necessarily thought we’d buy. Movies about talking toys, runaway fish, and main characters who can’t even talk. For Pixar (even though they became an official part of Disney in 2006 and had a working relationship with the Mouse House well before that), they’ve never made anything that felt like a Disney movie. That is, until their latest film, Brave. For better or worse, a product of princess story perception or real influence, Brave is a Disney movie at heart. And depending upon who you ask, it’s either a major misstep for Pixar or an evolutionary one for its parent company.

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Pixar Wall-E Commentary

Oh, those geeks and their wonderful ways of storing minuscule tidbits of information and pulling them from their mental storage unit to spur on debates. What must it be like to listen to a group of them talk about a movie they love? How about a movie they’ve all worked on? That’s exactly what Disney and Pixar did for WALL*E. They’ve pulled four of the geekiest minds on the production crew, minds that would analyze every, minute detail of a film and test it for accuracy, and let them talk all over the film. And, like any good geek conversation, the pop cultural references come with each, nerdy breath. So, without any further ado, it’s time to find out what this Geek Squad has to say about WALL*E.

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For more than fifteen years, Pixar has represented the gold standard in computer generated films. Since the studio’s early days of making groundbreaking short films to producing Oscar-winning feature-length movies, Pixar has become a brand associated with quality animation and adorable characters. There have been some bumps along the road, from a love-hate-owner relationship with Disney to some questionable sequels, but few studios can boast such a consistent level of quality and innovation. This week, Pixar will be releasing its 13th full-length feature, Brave, with an entire new cast of characters different from any other Pixar film. This gives us a chance to look into Pixar’s past and remember some of the favorite characters from their films.

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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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Monsters University

Pixar and Disney are going back to college (and back into sequel/prequel territory) with Monsters University. The movie, of course, acts as a feeder school into Monsters, Inc., and features John Goodman and Billy Crystal in their old/younger voice roles. The film is being directed by Dan Scanlon (one of the writers on Cars), and while it’s not at all an indicator of quality, this first teaser trailer is pretty dull. It’s not at all imbued with the kind of Pixar magic we’ve come to love – with its generic voice over and obvious gags. The timing doesn’t even seem right. Check it out for yourself:

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It’s not impossible for lauded animation house Pixar to make a mistake (or two, in the case of Cars, which does still pull in great affection from the younger set), and setting up their first film led by a female protagonist and with a brand new fairy tale as plot backbone in no way sounded like a mistake from conception. But despite a checklist of elements that should mark Brave as a bold new classic for both Pixar and Disney, the film instead diverges spectacularly -  it is both a middling example of Pixar innovation and wit and a beautiful introduction to one of Disney’s most compelling Princesses yet. Simply put, Brave is a poor Pixar feature, but it’s a wonderful Disney Princess film. What Brave has to offer is twofold: a bold new Princess and an exciting new world for her to live and play in. Still better, it appears as if Disney, Pixar, writers and directors Brenda Chapman, Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, and additional writer Irene Mecchi set out to accomplish those exact aims when crafting Brave. That sort of praise might not exactly seem like the kind worth singing, but when it comes to Brave, a film that was conceived of and written by Chapman before she was eventually ousted as the director in 2010, it’s important to note. The aims of Brave are true, but its methodology in getting in there doesn’t quite hit the mark.

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Pacific Rim

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a collection of all the things you’ll be talking about tomorrow with your friends. Assuming you have friends. We hope you do. If not, we’ll be your friend. We begin this evening with the first image from Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim, featuring Idris Elba looking badass in a suit that, if our guess is right, allows him to control giant robots or something. Everything about this film makes it a giant, sloppy, wet orgy for nerds. We cannot wait.

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Prometheus

One month down in the summer movie season. We got a decent opener, certainly not a grand start. Joss Whedon‘s box-office juggernaut and Wes Anderson‘s lovely Moonrise Kingdom aside, we faced disappointments. The Dictator was hit and miss. Battleship was more bloated than big. Although it was better than its harsher critics suggested, Dark Shadows didn’t exactly win over any of Depp and Burton’s naysayers. Now, with June, we’ve got an even more promising month; 30 days packed with Abraham Lincoln killing vampires, a rock musical, and a talking bear movie. All the required ingredients for a proper moviegoing month. This is such a busy month the honorable mentions are more honorable than usual, even Adam Shankman‘s Rock of Ages, that movie being marketed as a celebrity karaoke party. Even though The Loved Ones is apparently a must-see movie, 99.9% of you will not be able to see it this month, hence why it’s not on the list. But what is?

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Shaun of the Dead

We all know what it feels like when a film touches on events yet to come. Usually it’s the best when it’s something that you could only pick up on after already watching the film once before – it’s like a little inside joke you get to have with the filmmakers, a reward for sitting through the movie more than once. At times it’s not even the fact that it foreshadows event in the films, but rather that it’s so subtle that it takes a few goes to even pick up on. Other times are less subtle, but just as fun. This is probably going to have spoilers in it. Just to be clear.

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With Brave, Pixar’s latest film, not hitting theaters for another month, the studio is still looking to capitalize on some early summer dollars, particularly when it comes to the impending Memorial Day holiday weekend. The three-day weekend has a surprisingly slim release schedule that’s not particularly kid-friendly (its only two wide releases are Men in Black III and Chernobyl Diaries), so Pixar’s decision to re-release four of their most popular films exclusively to AMC Theatres for the weekend is a total no-brainer. From May 25 to May 28, select AMC locations will be showing Toy Story 3, Ratatouille, Up, and Wall-E on a rotating schedule as part of the “Pixar Summer Movie Weekend.” Each film will also come with a classic short from Pixar and an exclusive new look at Brave. While it would be nice if Americans used the upcoming three-day holiday to, I don’t know, go outside?, there are worse things to do with your kids (or your adults) than to take them to check out some Pixar classics in theaters. Some of these films haven’t been in theaters for nearly five years (Ratatouille specifically), so this offer will likely provide a first chance for some tiny Pixar fans to see their favorites on the big screen, and that’s a pretty charming prospect. Also, if you go to see Wall-E in an Austin-area theater, the odds are high that you’ll see the Head Reject snuffling into his beard.

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Aural Fixation - Large

With Dark Shadows set to hit theaters this weekend, Warners hosted a small Q&A this past Tuesday to highlight what will be composer Danny Elfman and director Tim Burton’s fourteenth film together. I am notorious for getting lost on studio lots (I once accidentally wandered into a background shot during the filming of Private Practice while looking for a screening room), but I was pleased (and relieved) when I arrived and realized this event was being held outside making it easy to find (although the long line of Elfman fans flanking the venue was also a pretty clear indicator). It was a nice change of pace to be outside on a warm afternoon and seemed to put everyone in a good mood. While the Q&A was moderated, the goal of the afternoon was primarily to open the floor up to the fans and have them ask the questions. This can be a precarious opportunity when the questions are unfiltered (and sometimes cringe worthy) as anyone who has attended a Q&A can attest to. However this afternoon the questions (save for a few – no, Oingo Boingo will not be getting back together) were incredibly thoughtful and interesting. Elfman noted that doing events like this are something he gladly takes time to do as he loves interacting with fans and this was clear as he took every question seriously and gave each person his undivided attention when answering. The event was also to commemorate the release of Elfman and Burton’s 25th Anniversary […]

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There’s totally nothing wrong with a bonding between man and beast, but it feels like such relationships are often trivialized thanks to how sensational we make them in films. Teaching your dog to sit and stay is cool, but in the movie world you’d need to at least teach him to solve crimes or play basketball to really turn heads. Anything less is just everyday stuff. It’s because movies tend to over-personify animals that we often forget just how extraordinarily talented they’re portrayed as, and how weird some of the relationships are. Here are some of the weirder ones…

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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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If you’re “too old” to skulk around all hunch-backed in your own yard looking for the painted eggs your little cousin hid for you, why are you holding that remote with the Pause Button at the ready? We all love hunting. It’s in our nature. Just like we love discounted Criterion titles, free scotch and foot massages that don’t mean anything sexual. So here are some Movie Easter Eggs to hunt down. Bonus one? They involve movies, so you have a solid excuse to just watch movies all week. Bonus two? If you can’t find them, they won’t smell rotten after a few days. And be sure to add your favorite in the comments section for fellow hunter/gatherers:

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