- "From the beginning, I kept saying it's not the technology that's going to entertain audiences, it's the story. When you go and see a really great live-action film, you don't walk out and say 'that new Panavision camera was staggering, it made the film so good'. The computer is a tool, and it's in the service of the story."
- —John Lasseter, co-founder of Pixar
- "Where story is king."
- —Company motto
Pixar Animation Studios, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is an Academy Award®-winning film studio with world-renowned technical, creative and production capabilities in the art of computer animation and creators of some of the most successful and beloved animated films of all time. Pixar has so far produced eleventeen films films: Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, WALL•E, Up, Toy Story 3, Cars 2, Brave, Monsters University, Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur,Finding Dory,Cars 3 and Coco.
Pixar's climb to the pinnacle of computer animation success was a quick one, and the company continues to push the envelope in its art and technology inspired movie-making endeavors.
Pixar's tenuous evolution began in the 1970s when millionaire Alexander Schare, then president of the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), was looking for someone to create an animated film from a sound recording of Tubby the Tuba. Enter a computer scientist named Ed Catmull with a Ph.D. from the University of Utah, who along with several others set up house (at Schare's expense) at NYIT's Long Island campus to work with computer graphics. Though Tubby the Tuba was never made, the team successfully produced video artwork. When creative mogul George Lucas proposed moving the team to the West Coast in 1979 as part of Lucasfilm Ltd., the breeding ground of the original Star Wars trilogy, Catmull and his colleagues agreed.
Over the next few years, Catmull and his ensemble created innovative graphics programs and equipment for Lucas, including an imaging computer called the 'Pixar.' The Pixar was then used to develop high-tech graphics and animation sequences for Lucasfilm projects. Unlike other computers, Pixar's software constructed high-resolution, three-dimensional color images of virtually anything, from buildings and cars to tornadoes and aliens. Remarkably, Pixar was also capable of helping medical professionals at Johns Hopkins diagnose diseases from 3D renderings of CAT-scans and x-rays; giving weather technicians new images from satellites; and even helping prospectors locate oil from enhanced seismic readings--all at a speed some 200 times faster than previous computer programs.
In 1984, John Lasseter, who had met Catmull at a computer graphics conference and was employed by Walt Disney Studios, visited Lucasfilm for a month-long stint. Lasseter, who had graduated from the California Institute of the Arts where he had won two Student Academy Awards for animated film, decided to stay. Meanwhile, after spinning off a joint venture called Droid Works, George Lucas started shopping around Pixar with hopes of a second spinoff. Pixar caught the interest of several companies, including EDS, then a division of General Motors, Philips N.V., and computer whiz-kid Steve Jobs, cofounder and chairman of Apple Computer Inc. Unable to convince Apple's board of directors to invest in or purchase the fledgling graphics company, Jobs reluctantly abandoned his hopes for Pixar.
Yet circumstances changed drastically for Jobs in 1985. Stripped of his responsibilities and deposed from his Apple kingdom (at about the same time the first Pixar computer went on the market for $105,000), Jobs sold the majority of his Apple stock and started over. Plunging $12 million into a new computer enterprise named NeXT Inc., specializing in personal computers for colleges and universities, Jobs approached Lucas in 1986 and paid $10 million for the San Rafael-based Pixar and created an independent company. Though Catmull, Lasseter, and crew regarded Jobs as kin in their quest for high-tech fun and games given his laidback reputation and status as a computer wonder boy--the new boss instructed them to put aside their dreams of animation and film and to instead concentrate on technical graphics they could sell.
1986-1991: Highs and Lows
|“||If I knew in 1986 how much it was going to cost to keep Pixar going, I doubt if I would've bought the company! 'The problem was, for many years the cost of the computers required to make animation we could sell was tremendously high.||”|
Luckily, Pixar's crew came up with several software innovations, which they used to create a myriad of products. In 1986 came the first of many Oscar nominations from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for a short animated film called Luxo, Jr. Next came Red's Dream in 1987, then the development of RenderMan, for which the company applied for and received a patent. A revolutionary graphics program that allowed computer artists to add color and create texture to onscreen 3D objects, RenderMan produced stunningly realistic photo images almost indistinguishable from actual photographs. RenderMan's brand of images paid off when Tin Toy, written and directed by Lasseter as the first computer-generated animation, won an Academy Award as Best Animated Short Film in 1988.
As CEO of Pixar, Jobs expanded the company's leading edge graphics and animation capabilities by joining forces in July 1989 with the San Francisco-based Colossal Pictures, a live action, animation, and special effects studio, for collaboration purposes and to broker Pixar for television commercials and promotional films. With Colossal's background and experience in broadcast media and Pixar's unique computer capabilities, the partnership was poised for tremendous success. By 1990 when more than a dozen RenderMan products were introduced, RenderMan licensing fees finally began to pay off. Not only were many hardware and software packagers incorporating the graphics program into their products, but RenderMan was endorsed by such industry heavyweights as Digital Equipment, IBM, Intel Corporation, and Sun Microsystems. In addition, Pixar created two commercials in its association with Colossal. The second commercial, for Life Savers 'Holes' bite-size candies (which took 12 weeks to produce using RenderMan's software), aired in March and was a hit with audiences.
In April 1990 Pixar signed a letter of intent to sell its valuable yet stagnating hardware operations, including all proprietary hardware technology and imaging software, to Vicom Systems of Fremont, California. The move, which included the transfer of 18 of Pixar's 100 employees, was finalized several weeks later and allowed Pixar to devote the company's full energy to further development of its rendering capabilities. Before the end of the year, Pixar moved from San Rafael to new $15 million digs in the Point Richmond Tech Center of Richmond, California, and reached revenues of just under $3.4 million, though still not reporting a profit.
While Jobs's other company, NeXT Inc., seemed to prosper and was expected to reach $100 million in computer sales, Pixar still struggled to make ends meet in 1991. In February, 30 employees were laid off, including President Charles Kolstad. Jobs, sometimes criticized as a mercurial spinmeister with too little substance to back up his visions and words, was brought to task in the media for the shortcomings of both companies. Yet salvation came to Pixar in the name of Toy Story, the first full-length computer-animated feature film, as a collaboration between Pixar and Lasseter's old stomping grounds, Walt Disney Studios. Signing a contract to produce quality 'digital entertainment,' Pixar was responsible for the content and animation of three full-length films; Disney provided the funding for production and promotional costs, owning the marketing and licensing fees of the films and their characters. Though Disney retained the lion's share of revenue and profit, Pixar negotiated for a slice of the gross revenues from the box office and subsequent video sales. At this juncture, neither Disney nor Pixar knew the potential of their alliance--one that proved successful beyond their wildest expectations.
1992-95: Magic & Mastery
In 1992, the joint project between Pixar and Disney, called CAPS (computer animated production system) was another stellar development, winning Pixar's second Academy Award (shared with Disney). The following year, Jobs's NeXT Inc., like Pixar before it, was forced to lay off workers and sell its hardware division to concentrate on software development and applications. Yet 1993 was a banner year for Pixar, with RenderMan winning the company's third Academy Award and a Gold Clio (for advertising excellence) for the funky animated Listerine 'Arrows' commercial. The next year, Pixar won its second Gold Clio for the Lifesavers 'Conga' commercial, a colorful romp with a contagious beat. Despite such heavy accolades from critics and peers, Pixar still had not managed a profit since its spinoff in 1986, and reported a loss of $2.4 million on revenue of $5.6 million for 1994.
The following year, in 1995, Pixar was wrapping up its work on Toy Story and everyone was anxious for the finished result to hit theaters in November. Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, and Annie Potts had signed on to voice major characters, and Randy Newman was composing the film's musical score. By the end of the third quarter with more than 100,000 copies of RenderMan sold and a huge licensing deal with Bill Gates and Microsoft, Pixar announced its first-ever profit of $3.1 million on revenues of $10.6 million.
For Pixar, 1995 was a string of accelerating successes: first came Toy Story's pre-Thanksgiving release, grossing over $40 million its first weekend, with rave reviews from critics and families alike. Leading box office receipts, both Disney and Pixar hoped Toy Story could best Pochahontas's $140 million take earlier in the year. Next came Pixar's IPO of 6.9 million shares in November on the NASDAQ; the market closed at $22 per share, up from its initial offering of $12 to $14 each, giving Pixar a market value of some $800 million. Jobs, who since his purchase of Pixar for $10 million had sunk an additional $50 million into the enterprise, recouped a handsome paper profit of more than $600 million for his 80 percent stake (the shares eventually hit a high of $45.50 on November 30th).
Another boon came when Toy Story garnered several award nominations, including Randy Newman's score for two Golden Globes and an Oscar; an Oscar for Catmull and Thomas Porter, director of effects animation or digital scanning technology; and an additional Special Achievement Oscar for Lasseter's writing, direction, and technical wizardry for Toy Story.
1996-99: Lightning Strikes!
After the release of Toy Story while part of Pixar's crew worked on a CD-ROM game of the animated film, others were busy working on several Coca-Cola commercials for the Creative Arts Agency, hired by Michael Ovitz. Pixar was also immersed in its next Disney film, A Bug's Life, which was scheduled for release in two years. By February 1996, Toy Story had grossed over $177 million at the box office and in March Lasseter attended the Academy Awards to receive his Oscar. He brought along Woody and Buzz Lightyear, who were part of several sketches and fodder for running gags during the live telecast. Pixar completed the year with a huge leap in revenues, up to $38.2 million (from 1995's $12.1 million), extraordinary net income of $25.3 million, and stock prices hitting a high of $49 per share in the fourth quarter.
Though it had been said by Bob Bennett of Autodesk, Inc., a client and competitor of Pixar, that 'Pixar is the best in the world at what it does,' continued advances in computer and graphics technology brought considerable competition. Everyone it seemed--from Digital Domain and Industrial Light & Magic to Microsoft and Silicon Graphics--was trying their hand at graphics software development. After the stellar success of Toy Story, all the major motion picture studios were creating computerized animation, including DreamWorks SKG, Turner Broadcasting, Warner Bros., and even Disney.
Other developments surrounded Jobs, as Apple stumbled horribly and the company came close to financial ruin. Still attached to the company he had cofounded and brought to enormous success, Jobs came to its rescue in 1997 shortly after Apple bought his NeXT Inc. Few doubted Jobs's ability to juggle both Pixar and Apple, and they were right. Not only did Jobs bring Apple back to the forefront of the computer industry with the flashy iMac, but Pixar went on to rule the box office with A Bug's Life. During the magic 'holiday' window of October, November, and December 1997, A Bug's Life was up against four animated films, including another insect-related story by Dreamworks SKG, entitled Antz. Dreamworks had also released The Prince of Egypt and Nickelodeon brought The Rugrats Movie to the big screen as well. Yet Pixar beat the pack and went on to ring up over $360 million in worldwide box office receipts, even topping Toy Story.
Once again Pixar was nominated for and won big at the Academy Awards: two separate awards for Scientific and Technical Achievement (for the Marionette 3D Animation System, and for digital painting), as well as another for Best Animated Short Film (Geri's Game). Pixar also finally received a sizeable financial boost in 1997, as revenues and net income reached $34.7 million and $22.1 million, respectively. The box office and critical triumphs of both Toy Story and A Bug's Life also brought a new deal with Disney to produce an additional five pictures within the next ten years, with both companies as equal partners. The agreement eclipsed the previous deal; the former's remaining two films became the first two of the new five-picture negotiation. Lastly, Pixar would sell Disney up to five percent of its common stock at $15 per share.
In early 1999A Bug's Life was released on video and DVD simultaneously and Pixar's top guns worked feverishly on the sequel to Toy Story, slated for release in November. The sequel was a gamble, since only one animated feature film had ever spawned a theater-released follow-up, Disney's The Rescuers Down Under. Most sequels or prequels were released directly to video; Pixar was ready to buck the trend. Dollars from its venture with Disney continued to slowly trickle in and Pixar finished the year with $14.3 million in revenue and net earnings of $7.8 million. 1999 also brought more kudos for Pixar: David DiFrancesco won the company's ninth Academy Award (for Technical Achievement), Toy Story 2 opened in November to sweeping box office dominance (even higher receipts than Star Wars: The Phantom Menace's first few weeks of release the year before), and the company celebrated its fifth consecutive profitable year, with revenues of $121 million and earnings topping $50 million.
2000-2009: The New Century
Pixar was as busy as ever in the 21st century: the company was preparing to move into its new 225,000-square-foot headquarters in Emeryville, California, due for completion in mid-2000 and were hard at work on its next full-length animated film in collaboration with Disney. The new feature was scheduled for release in 2001, under the working title of "Monsters, Inc." The company's fifth film was tentatively slated for release in 2002, was a top-secret project to be directed by Andrew Stanton, who had worked on both Toy Story and A Bug's Life. Despite a slow, financially difficult beginning, Pixar Animation Studios had landed on the fast track and was known throughout the world. With its technological breakthroughs and brilliantly crafted animated films, the sky was the limit in the coming decade and beyond. As stated in its 1996 annual report, Pixar succeeded because it was well aware of the pitfalls of filmmaking:
|“||Though Pixar is the pioneer of computer animation, the essence of our business is to create compelling stories and memorable characters. It is chiseled in stone at our studios that no amount of technology can turn a bad story into a good one.||”|
Monsters, Inc. was followed by Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, WALL•E, and Up, which cemented Pixar's reputation as one of the best-critically acclaimed movie studios in history.
2010-present: To Infinity and Beyond!
On April 20, 2010, Pixar opened a new studio in the downtown area of Gastown, Vancouver, B.C., named Pixar Canada. The studio is primarily creating projects featuring characters from Toy Story and Cars. The studio was shut down on October 8, 2013 to "refocus creative and business efforts and resources under one roof".
Pixar released Toy Story 3 on June 18, 2010, which met with universal acclaim and box-office success. It made over $1.063B and is the highest grossing animated film of all time.
John Lasseter fueled speculation on Pixar's future sequels when he stated, "If we have a great story, we'll do a sequel". Cars 2, Pixar's first sequel not based on Toy Story, was released on June 24, 2011. Brave, Pixar's first fairy-tale, was released on June 15, 2012. Monsters University, a prequel to Monsters, Inc. was also announced on April 22, 2010, for release on June 21, 2013. Three original films were announced in early 2012: Inside Out, set to be released on June 19, 2015, The Good Dinosaur, to be released on November 25, 2015, and an untitled Día de los Muertos film. The Day of the Dead film was reported by Comingsoon.net to be released in 2016. A sequel to Finding Nemo, titled Finding Dory, was announced in April 2013, for release in 2016.
According to Disney Vault, at the Hero Complex Film Festival 2012, Stanton says he feels that Pixar will continue to make more sequels, which he said: "I’m sure you’ll see some other sequels of things as they grow because now we are not so blinded. It’s the originals that keep us really going and it’s the sequels that are like comfort food, and I think it’s the same way for the audience."
According to Variety, Derek Connolly and Teddy Newton are working on an untitled project. Details are, at this stage, very few, but Connolly tells the trade that he's been instructed to write as though he's telling a story for adults rather than kids, specifically. It was also announced that Mark Andrews is developing another film.
It was also announced that 3 films will be released from 2017 to 2018. It is currently unknown what the films are.
On March 18, 2014 during Disney's annual shareholder meeting, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that Pixar had begun pre-production on Incredibles 2 with The Incredibles director Brad Bird working on the story.. Iger also announced at the time that development had begun on a third Cars film.
On October 8, 2015, Disney and Pixar announced that Cars 3 would be released on June 17, 2017. Coco, the final title of Lee Unkrich's film based onthe Day of the Dead,was dated for November 22, 2017. Toy Story 4 and The Incredibles 2 were dated for June 15, 2018 and June 21, 2019, respectively. Two unknown films from Pixar were both announced for 2020 releases on March 13 and June 19. Another unknown Pixar film was dated for June 18, 2021.
On July 14, 2017, during Disney's D23 Expo, Pixar announced an Untitled Suburban Fantasy Film to be directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae.
Since its incorporation, Pixar has been responsible for many important breakthroughs in the application of computer graphics (CG) for filmmaking. Consequently, the company has attracted some of the world's finest talent in this area. Pixar's technical and creative teams have collaborated since 1986 to develop a wealth of production software used in-house to create its movies and further the state of the art in CG movie making. This proprietary technology allows the production of animated images of a quality, richness and vibrancy that are unique in the industry, and above all, allows the director to precisely control the end results in a way that is exactly right for the story. Pixar continues to invest heavily in its software systems and believes that further advancements will lead to additional productivity and quality improvements in the making of its computer animated films.
Pixar also has a long standing tradition of sharing its advances within the broader CG community, through technical papers, technology partnerships, and most notably through its publicly available RenderMan product for the highest-quality, photo-realistic images currently available. RenderMan remains the standard in CG film visual effects and feature animation and has been honored with an Academy Award for technical achievement.
In 2001, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' Board of Governors® honored Ed Catmull, president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios, Loren Carpenter, senior scientist, and Rob Cook, vice president of software engineering, with an Academy Award of Merit (Oscar®) "for significant advancements to the field of motion picture rendering as exemplified in Pixar's RenderMan." In 2002, the Producer's Guild of America honored Pixar with the Guild's inaugural Vanguard Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in new media and technology.
Pixar's creative department is led by Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, an Academy Award®-winning director and animator. Under the guidance of Lasseter, Pixar has built a creative team that includes a department of highly skilled animators, a story department and an art department. This team is responsible for creating, writing and animating all of Pixar's films. Pixar strives to hire animators who have superior acting ability - those able to bring characters and inanimate objects to life, as though they have their own thought processes. In order to attract and retain quality animators, the company founded Pixar University, which conducts three-month long courses for new and existing animators. Pixar also has a complete production team that gives the company the capability to control all elements of production of its films. Pixar has successfully expanded the production team so projects may be worked on simultaneously.
Initially, when Pixar was a high-end computer hardware company whose core product was the Pixar Image Computer, a system primarily sold to government agencies and the medical community. One of the buyers of Pixar Image Computers was Disney Studios, which was using the device as part of their secretive CAPS project, using the machine and custom software to migrate the laborious ink and paint part of the 2-D animation process to a more automated and thus efficient method.
Pixar continued its relationship with Walt Disney Feature Animation, a studio whose corporate parent would ultimately become its most important partner.
Pixar and Disney had disagreements after the production of Toy Story 2. Originally intended as a straight-to-video release (and thus not part of Pixar's three-picture deal), the film was eventually upgraded to a theatrical release during production. Pixar demanded that the film then be counted toward the three-picture agreement, but Disney refused. Pixar's first five feature films have collectively grossed more than $2.5 billion, equivalent to the highest per-film average gross in the industry. Though profitable for both, Pixar later complained that the arrangement was not equitable. Pixar was responsible for creation and production, while Disney handled marketing and distribution. Profits and production costs were split 50-50, but Disney exclusively owned all story and sequel rights and also collected a distribution fee. The lack of story and sequel rights was perhaps the most onerous aspect to Pixar and set the stage for a contentious relationship.
The two companies attempted to reach a new agreement in early 2004. The new deal would be only for distribution, as Pixar intended to control production and own the resulting film properties themselves. The company also wanted to finance their films on their own and collect 100 percent of the profits, paying Disney only the 10 to 15 percent distribution fee. More importantly, as part of any distribution agreement with Disney, Pixar demanded control over films already in production under their old agreement, including The Incredibles and Cars. Disney considered these conditions unacceptable, but Pixar would not concede.
Disagreements between Steve Jobs and then Disney Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner made the negotiations more difficult than they otherwise might have been. They broke down completely in mid-2004, with Jobs declaring that Pixar was actively seeking partners other than Disney. Pixar did not enter negotiations with other distributors. After a lengthy hiatus, negotiations between the two companies resumed following the departure of Eisner from Disney in September 2005. In preparation for potential fallout between Pixar and Disney, Jobs announced in late 2004 that Pixar would no longer release movies at the Disney-dictated November time frame, but during the more lucrative early summer months. This would also allow Pixar to release DVDs for their major releases during the Christmas shopping season. An added benefit of delaying Cars was to extend the time frame remaining on the Pixar-Disney contract to see how things would play out between the two companies.
Pending the Disney acquisition of Pixar, the two companies created a distribution deal for the intended 2007 release of Ratatouille, in case the acquisition fell through, to ensure that this one film would still be released through Disney's distribution channels. (In contrast to the earlier Disney/Pixar deal Ratatouille was to remain a Pixar property and Disney would have received only a distribution fee.) The completion of Disney's Pixar acquisition, however, nullified this distribution arrangement
Disney announced on January 24, 2006 that it had agreed to buy Pixar for approximately $7.4 billion in an all-stock deal. Following Pixar shareholder approval, the acquisition was completed May 5, 2006. The transaction catapulted Steve Jobs, who was the majority shareholder of Pixar with 50.1%, to Disney's largest individual shareholder with 7% and a new seat on its board of directors. Jobs' new Disney holdings exceed holdings belonging to ex-CEO Michael Eisner, the previous top shareholder, who still held 1.7%; and Disney Director Emeritus Roy E. Disney, who held almost 1% of the corporation's shares. As part of the deal, Pixar co-founder John Lasseter, by then Executive Vice President, became Chief Creative Officer (reporting to President and CEO Robert Iger and consulting with Disney Director Roy Disney) of both Pixar and the Walt Disney Animation Studios, as well as the Principal Creative Adviser at Walt Disney Imagineering, which designs and builds the company's theme parks. Catmull retained his position as President of Pixar, while also becoming President of Walt Disney Animation Studios, reporting to Bob Iger and Dick Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Studio Entertainment. Steve Jobs' position as Pixar's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer was also removed, and instead he took a place on the Disney board of directors. Lasseter and Catmull's oversight of both the Disney and Pixar studios did not mean that the two studios were merging, however. In fact, additional conditions were laid out as part of the deal to ensure that Pixar remained a separate entity, a concern that analysts had expressed about the Disney deal. Some of those conditions were that Pixar HR policies would remain intact, including the lack of employment contracts. Also, the Pixar name was guaranteed to continue, and the studio would remain in its current Emeryville, California location with the "Pixar" sign. Finally, branding of films made post-merger would be "Disney•Pixar" (beginning with Cars).
On November 22, 1995, Pixar Animation Studios forever impacted the future of filmmaking, storytelling and the medium of animation with the release of its first feature film, Disney·Pixar's Toy Story. Released nine years after the founding of Pixar, Toy Story exhibited years of creative and technical achievements from a small group of passionate computer scientists and animators, led by present day President Ed Catmull and Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter. The film, marking the birth of the new medium of computer animation, went on to become the highest grossing film of 1995 with $362 million in worldwide box office receipts. Lasseter, director of Toy Story, was honored with a Special Achievement Academy Award® for his "inspired leadership of the Pixar Toy Story team resulting in the first feature-length computer animated film."
Since Toy Story's release in 1995, Pixar Animation Studios, in partnership with Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, has also created and produced A Bug's Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), The Incredibles (2004), Cars (2006), Ratatouille (2007), WALL•E (2008), Up (2009), Toy Story 3 (2010), Cars 2 (2011), Brave (2012), Monsters University (2013), Inside Out (2015), The Good Dinosaur (2015), Finding Dory (2016), Cars 3(2017) and Coco (2017). The feature films have resulted in an unprecedented streak of both critical and box office successes, and combined to gross more than $6 billion at the worldwide box office. The first 10 feature films, through Up, have garnered 35 Academy Award® nominations, nine Oscars®, six Golden Globes® and numerous other accolades. The company has also been given special thanks in some of Disney's other non-Pixar based films, like the 2016 remake of The Jungle Book.
Pixar's upcoming films include Incredibles 2 (2018), and Toy Story 4 (2019).
From toys, bugs, monsters, fish, superheroes, and cars to rats, robots, grumpy old men, fearless young girls, human emotions, and dinosaurs, Pixar's talented creative and technical teams have given audiences of all ages some of the most beloved characters in film. Pairing these unique, relatable characters with compelling stories and immersive, believable worlds, Pixar continually delivers on its promise to truly entertain audiences all over the world.
Pixar Animation Studios has long believed in making short films. In 1986, Pixar's first-ever short, Luxo, Jr., launched a new direction in animated filmmaking, using three-dimensional computer animation to tell a story. Since then, nearly every feature film that Pixar has released has included a short beforehand, bringing back a tradition that was once an expected pleasure for filmgoers.
Pixar's shorts have helped foster and develop technologies and talent at the studio, but they are mostly made for one simple reason: love of the art form. From Tin Toy's (1989) toy-tormenting baby to Partly Cloudy's (2009) adorable storks, Pixar's shorts have delighted audiences and earned critical praise, garnering nine Academy Award® nominations and three Best Animated Short Film Academy Awards®. Day & Night, the studio's most recent short, debuted in theaters with Toy Story 3.
Pixar has also released several TV shows, including:
RenderMan is the render software Pixar created in 1988, and now uses to help produce its CGI films. Since it's creation, RenderMan has become the industry-standard and has since been used to render many films including The Abyss, Terminator II and Jurassic Park.
Marionette is the animation software developed and used in-house by Pixar Animation Studios in the animation of their movies and shorts. Marionette is not available for sale and is only used by Pixar. As a result little is known outside of Pixar about the detailed workings of this software.
Pixar claims that Marionette is designed to be intuitive and familiar to animators who have traditional cel animation experience. Pixar chooses to use a proprietary system in lieu of the commercial products available and used by other companies because it can edit the software code to meet their needs.
Since December 2005, Pixar has held exhibitions celebrating the art and artists of Pixar, over their first twenty years in animation.
Pixar: 20 Years of Animation
Pixar held one such exhibition, from April to June 2010, at Science Centre Singapore, in Jurong East, Singapore. It was their first time holding an exhibition in Singapore.
The exhibition highlights consist of work-in-progress sketches from various Pixar productions, clay sculptures of their characters, and an autostereoscopic short showcasing a 3D version of the exhibition pieces which is projected through 4 projectors. Another highlight is the Zoetrope, where visitors of the exhibition are shown figurines of Toy Story characters "animated" in real-life through the zoetrope.
Pixar: 25 Years of Animation
Pixar celebrated 25 years of animation in 2011, the year when Cars 2 was released. Pixar celebrated its 20th anniversary with the first Cars. The Pixar: 25 Years of Animation exhibition was held at the Oakland Museum of California from July 2010 until January 2011. The exhibition was also held at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum in Shatin from March to July 2011.
Pixar: 25 Years of Animation includes all of the artwork from Pixar: 20 Years of Animation, plus art from Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up, and Toy Story 3. The Hong Kong exhibition will feature some never-before-seen artwork and animations that are exclusive to Hong Kong.
The Science Behind Pixar
The Science Behind Pixar is a travelling exhibition developed by the Museum of Science in Boston in collaboration with Pixar. The exhibition demonstrates the production pipeline at Pixar in the form of the filmmaking process. It started its tour in June 2015 at the Museum of Science and is expected to be touring for ten years to other museums around the United States with limited tour availability beginning in 2021.
Pixar: 30 Years of Animation
Pixar celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2016, the year when they released Finding Dory. To celebrate, they have upgraded their art exhibition to feature art from Cars 2, Brave, Monsters University, Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur and Finding Dory. Pixar: 30 Years of Animation was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, Japan from March 5 to May 29, 2016 and at Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum in Nagasaki from July 27 to September 8.
- ↑Pixar Canada shuts its doors in Vancouver
- ↑New Art From Pixar's Upcoming Films!
- ↑Pixar: Andrew Stanton Open To ‘Finding Nemo 2′ + ‘Finding Nemo 3D’ Trailer
- ↑Pixar: Andrew Stanton Is Now Working on ‘Finding Nemo 2′
- ↑Connolly: College partnership leads to 'Guaranteed' success
- ↑Mark Andrews Developing New Pixar Feature Film
- ↑Disney and Pixar Set 8 Untitled Animated Projects from 2016 – 2018
- ↑Disney and Pixar Animation Releases Dated Through 2018
- ↑ 9.09.1Disney Plans Third ‘Cars,’ ‘The Incredibles 2′
- ↑Cars, Incredibles Animated Sequels
This article is about the original 2006 Pixar film. For the film series, see Cars (franchise). For other uses, see Cars (disambiguation).
Cars is a 2006 American computer-animatedcomedy-adventure film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed and co-written by John Lasseter, it is Pixar's final independently-produced motion picture before its purchase by Disney in May 2006. Set in a world populated entirely by anthropomorphic cars and other vehicles, the film stars the voices of Owen Wilson, Paul Newman (in his final acting role), Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, Tony Shalhoub, Cheech Marin, Michael Wallis, George Carlin, Paul Dooley, Jenifer Lewis, Guido Quaroni, Michael Keaton, Katherine Helmond and John Ratzenberger. Race car drivers Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Mario Andretti, Michael Schumacher and car enthusiast Jay Leno (as "Jay Limo") voice themselves.
Cars premiered on May 26, 2006 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, and was theatrically released on June 9, 2006 to mostly positive reviews from critics. It was nominated for two Academy Awards including Best Animated Feature, and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film. The film was released on DVD on November 7, 2006 and on Blu-ray in 2007. The film was accompanied by the short One Man Band for its theatrical and home media releases. Merchandise based on the film (including scale models of several of the cars) broke records for retail sales of merchandise based on a Disney/Pixar film, bringing an estimated $10 billion for 5 years after the film's release. The film was dedicated to Joe Ranft, who was killed in a car accident during the film's production.
A sequel, titled Cars 2, was released on June 24, 2011, and a spin-off film titled Planes, produced by DisneyToon Studios, was released on August 9, 2013, which was followed by its own sequel, Planes: Fire & Rescue, released on July 18, 2014. A series of short animated films titled Cars Toons debuted in 2008 on Disney Channel and Disney XD. A second sequel, Cars 3, was released on June 16, 2017.
In a world populated by anthropomorphicvehicles, the last race of the Piston Cup championship ends in a three-way tie between retiring veteran Strip "The King" Weathers, infamous runner-up Chick Hicks, and rookie Lightning McQueen. The tiebreaker race is scheduled for one week later at the Los Angeles International Speedway in California. McQueen is desperate to win the race, since it would not only make him the first rookie to win a championship, but also allow him to leave the unglamorous sponsorship of Rusteze, a bumper ointment company, and allow him to take The King's place as the sponsored car of the lucrative Dinoco team. Eager to start practice in California as soon as possible, he pushes his big rig, Mack, to travel all night long. While McQueen is sleeping, Mack drifts off, and is startled by a gang of four reckless street racers, causing McQueen to fall out the back of the trailer and onto the road. McQueen wakes in the middle of traffic and speeds off the highway to find Mack, but instead finds a grumpy Peterbilt. He then decides to head back the Interstate to find Mack, but ends up lost in the run-down desert town of Radiator Springs, while inadvertently ruining the pavement of its main road.
After being arrested and impounded overnight (while guarded by a rusty, but friendly, tow truck named Mater), McQueen is ordered by the town judge, Doc Hudson, to leave town immediately. The local lawyer, Sally Carrera, requests that McQueen should instead be given community service to repave the road, to which Doc reluctantly agrees. McQueen tries to repave the road in a single day, but turns out shoddy, and he is forced to repave the road again, which takes several days to complete. During this time, he befriends several of the cars, and learns that Radiator Springs used to be a popular stopover along the old U.S. Route 66, but with the construction of Interstate 40 bypassing it, the town literally vanished from the map. McQueen also discovers that Doc is the "Fabulous Hudson Hornet", a three-time Piston Cup winner, whose racing career ended after an accident in 1954, and quickly forgotten by the sport. McQueen finishes repaving the road, which has invigorated the cars to improve their town, and spends an extra day in Radiator Springs with his new friends, before Mack and the media descend on the town, led by a tip to McQueen's location. McQueen reluctantly leaves with the media to get to California in time for the race, while Sally chastises Doc after discovering that he had tipped off the media to McQueen's whereabouts, not wanting to be discovered by them instead.
At the Los Angeles International Speedway, McQueen's mind is not fully set on the race, and he soon falls into last place. He is surprised to discover that Doc Hudson, who is decked out in his old racing colors, has taken over as his crew chief, along with several other friends from Radiator Springs to help in the pit. Inspired and recalling tricks he learned from Doc and his friends, McQueen quickly emerges to lead the race into the final laps. But at the last minute, Hicks, refusing to come behind Weathers again, side swipes Weathers, and sends him into a dangerous spin, causing him to crash. Seeing this and recalling Doc's fate, McQueen stops just short of the finish line, allowing Hicks to win, and drives back to push Weathers over the finish line. The crowd and media condemn Hicks' victory, but are nonetheless impressed with McQueen's sportsmanship. Though offered the Dinoco sponsorship deal, McQueen declines, insisting on staying with Rusteze as an appreciation of their past support. Later, back at Radiator Springs, McQueen returns and announces that he will be setting up his headquarters there, helping to put Radiator Springs back on the map.
See also: List of Cars characters
- Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen, described by John Lasseter in the Los Angeles Times as "A hybrid between a stock car and a more curvaceous Le Mans endurance racer."
- Paul Newman as Doc Hudson, a 1951 Hudson Hornet who is later revealed to be the Fabulous Hudson Hornet.
- Bonnie Hunt as Sally Carrera, a 2002 996-seriesPorsche 911 Carrera.
- Larry the Cable Guy as Mater, a 1951 International Harvester L-170 "boom" truck with elements of a mid-1950s Chevrolet. One-Ton Wrecker Tow Truck.
- Tony Shalhoub as Luigi, a 1959 Fiat 500.
- Cheech Marin as Ramone, a 1959 Chevrolet ImpalaLowrider.
- Michael Wallis as Sheriff, a 1949 Mercury Club Coupe (police package).
- George Carlin as Fillmore, a 1960 VW Bus.
- Paul Dooley as Sarge, a 1941 Willys model jeep, in the style used by the US Military.
- Jenifer Lewis as Flo, a 1957 Motorama show car.
- Guido Quaroni as Guido, a custom forklift, resembling an Isetta at the front.
- Richard Petty as Strip "The King" Weathers. The car's design was based on Richard Petty's 1970 Plymouth Superbird
- Michael Keaton as Chick Hicks, described by Pixar as a generic 1980s stock car. Strongly resembles a 1978–88 General Motors G-Body such as a Buick Regal or Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
- Katherine Helmond as Lizzie, a 1923 Ford Model T.
- John Ratzenberger as Mack, a 1985 Mack Super-Liner.
- Joe Ranft as Red, a 1960s style fire truck (most closely resembles a mid-1960s) and Peterbilt, a truck who Lightning McQueen mistakes for Mack while lost. This was Ranft's last voice role before his death in August 2005.
- Jeremy Piven (US) / Clarkson (UK) as Harv, Lightning McQueen's agent, never seen on-screen.
Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and Dave Foley reprise their vocal roles from previous Pixar films during an end-credits sequence featuring automobile spoofs of Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., and A Bug's Life.
Cars was the final Pixar film worked on by Joe Ranft who died in a car accident a year before the film's release, aged 45. The film was the second to be dedicated to his memory, after Corpse Bride (that showed the roles he had done in the other films directed by John Lasseter during the credits). This is also the last (non-documentary) movie for Paul Newman before his retirement in 2007 and his death in 2008. It turned out to be the highest-grossing film of his career.
The genesis of the project came in 1998 as Pixar was finishing work on A Bug's Life. At that time Jorgen Klubien began writing a new script called The Yellow Car, about an electric car living in a gas-guzzling world. Some of the original drawings and characters were produced in 1998 and the producers agreed that Cars could be the next movie after A Bug's Life and would be released in early 1999, particularly around June 4. However, the movie was eventually scrapped in favor of Toy Story 2. Later, production resumed with major script changes, like giving Mater, Doc, and a few other characters a bigger part.
Meanwhile, John Lasseter has said that the idea for Cars was born after he took a cross-country road trip with his wife and five sons in 2000. When he returned to the studio after vacation, he contacted Michael Wallis, a Route 66 historian. Wallis then led eleven Pixar animators in rented white Cadillacs on two different road trips across the route to research the film. In 2001, the movie's working title was Route 66 (after U.S. Route 66), but in 2002, the title was changed to prevent people from thinking it was related to the 1960 television show with the same name. In addition, Lightning McQueen's number was originally going to be 57 (Lasseter's birth year), but was changed to 95 (the year Toy Story was released).
In 2006, John Lasseter spoke about the inspiration for the film, saying: "I have always loved cars. In one vein, I have Disney blood, and in the other, there's motor oil. The notion of combining these two great passions in my life—cars and animation—was irresistible. When Joe (Ranft) and I first started talking about this film in 1998, we knew we wanted to do something with cars as characters. Around that same time, we watched a documentary called 'Divided Highways,' which dealt with the interstate highway and how it affected the small towns along the way. We were so moved by it and began thinking about what it must have been like in these small towns that got bypassed. That's when we started really researching Route 66, but we still hadn't quite figured out what the story for the film was going to be. I used to travel that highway with my family as a child when we visited our family in St. Louis."
Jorgen Klubien said the movie was both his best and most bitter experience because he was fired before the movie premiered and because he feels John Lasseter wrote him out of the story of how the film got made.
For the cars themselves, Lasseter also visited the design studios of the Big Three Detroit automakers, particularly J Mays of Ford Motor Company. Lasseter learned how real cars were designed.
In 2006, John Lasseter spoke about how they worked hard to make the animation believable, saying: "It took many months of trial and error, and practicing test animation, to figure out how each car moves and how their world works. Our supervising animators, Doug Sweetland and Scott Clark, and the directing animators, Bobby Podesta and James Ford Murphy, did an amazing job working with the animation team to determine the unique movements for each character based on its age and the type of car it was. Some cars are like sports cars and they're much tighter in their suspension. Others are older '50s cars that are a lot looser and have more bounce to them. We wanted to get that authenticity in there but also to make sure each car had a unique personality. We also wanted each animator to be able to put some of themself in the character and give it their own spin. Every day in dailies, it was so much fun because we would see things that we had never seen in our lives. The world of cars came alive in a believable and unexpected way."
Unlike most anthropomorphic cars, the eyes of the cars in this film were placed on the windshield (which resembles the Tonka Talking Trucks, and the characters from Tex Avery's One Cab's Family short and Disney's own Susie the Little Blue Coupe), rather than within the headlights. According to production designer Bob Pauley, "From the very beginning of this project, John Lasseter had it in his mind to have the eyes be in the windshield. For one thing, it separates our characters from the more common approach where you have little cartoon eyes in the headlights. For another, he thought that having the eyes down near the mouth at the front end of the car feels more like a snake. With the eyes set in the windshield, the point of view is more human-like, and made it feel like the whole car could be involved in the animation of the character. This decision was heavily criticized by automotive blog Jalopnik.
In 2006, supervising animator on the film Scott Clark, spoke about the challenges of animating car characters, saying: "Getting a full range of performance and emotion from these characters and making them still seem like cars was a tough assignment, but that's what animation does best. You use your imagination, and you make the movements and gestures fit with the design. Our car characters may not have arms and legs, but we can lean the tires in or out to suggest hands opening up or closing in. We can use steering to point a certain direction. We also designed a special eyelid and an eyebrow for the windshield that lets us communicate an expressiveness that cars don't have." Doug Sweetland, who also served as supervising animator, also spoke about the challenges, saying: "It took a different kind of animator to really be able to interpret the Cars models, than it did to interpret something like The Incredibles models. With The Incredibles, the animator could get reference for the characters by shooting himself and watching the footage. But with Cars, it departs completely from any reference. Yes they're cars, but no car can do what our characters do. It's pure fantasy. It took a lot of trial and error to get them to look right."
Lasseter also explained that the film started with pencil and paper designs, saying: "Truth to materials. Starting with pencil-and-paper designs from production designer Bob Pauley, and continuing through the modeling, articulation, and shading of the characters, and finally into animation, the production team worked hard to have the car characters remain true to their origins." Character department manager Jay Ward also explained how they wanted the cars to look as realistic as possible, saying: "John didn't want the cars to seem clay-like or mushy. He insisted on truth to materials. This was a huge thing for him. He told us that steel needs to feel like steel. Glass should feel like glass. These cars need to feel heavy. They weigh three or four thousand pounds. When they move around, they need to have that feel. They shouldn't appear light or overly bouncy to the point where the audience might see them as rubber toys." According to directing animator James Ford Murphy, "Originally, the car models were built so they could basically do anything. John kept reminding us that these characters are made of metal and they weigh several thousand pounds. They can't stretch. He showed us examples of very loose animation to illustrate what not to do."
Character shading supervisor on the film Thomas Jordan explained that chrome and car paint were the main challenges on the film, saying: "Chrome and car paint were our two main challenges on this film. We started out by learning as much as we could. At the local body shop, we watched them paint a car, and we saw the way they mixed the paint and applied the various coats. We tried to dissect what goes into the real paint and recreated it in the computer. We figured out that we needed a base paint, which is where the color comes from, and the clearcoat, which provides the reflection. We were then able to add in things like metallic flake to give it a glittery sparkle, a pearlescent quality the might change color depending on the angle, and even a layer of pin-striping for characters like Ramone." Supervising technical director on the film Eben Ostby explained that the biggest challenge for the technical team was creating the metallic and painted surfaces of the car characters, and the reflections that those surfaces generate, saying: "Given that the stars of our film are made of metal, John had a real desire to see realistic reflections, and more beautiful lighting than we’ve seen in any of our previous films. In the past, we’ve mostly used environment maps and other matte-based technology to cheat reflections, but for Cars we added a ray-tracing capability to our existing Renderman program to raise the bar for Pixar."
Rendering lead Jessica McMackin spoke about the use of ray tracing on the film, saying: "In addition to creating accurate reflections, we used ray tracing to achieve other effects. We were able to use this approach to create accurate shadows, like when there are multiple light sources and you want to get a feathering of shadows at the edges. Or occlusion, which is the absence of ambient light between two surfaces, like a crease in a shirt. A fourth use is irradiance. An example of this would be if you had a piece of red paper and held it up to a white wall, the light would be colored by the paper and cast a red glow on the wall." Character supervisor Tim Milliron explained that the film uses a ground–locking system that kept the cars firmly planted on the road, saying: "The ground-locking system is one of the things I’m most proud of on this film. In the past, characters have never known about their environment in any way. A simulation pass was required if you wanted to make something like that happen. On Cars, this system is built into the models themselves, and as you move the car around, the vehicle sticks to the ground. It was one of those things that we do at Pixar where we knew going in that it had to be done, but we had no idea how to do it."
Technical director Lisa Forsell explained that to enhance the richness and beauty of the desert landscapes surrounding Radiator Springs, the filmmakers created a department responsible for matte paintings and sky flats, saying: "Digital matte paintings are a way to get a lot of visual complexity without necessarily having to build complex geometry, and write complex shaders. We spent a lot time working on the clouds and their different formations. They tend to be on several layers and they move relative to each other. The clouds do in fact have some character and personality. The notion was that just as people see themselves in the clouds, cars see various car-shaped clouds. It’s subtle, but there are definitely some that are shaped like a sedan. And if you look closely, you’ll see some that look like tire treads. The fact that so much attention is put on the skies speaks to the visual level of the film. Is there a story point? Not really. There is no pixel on the screen that does not have an extraordinary level of scrutiny and care applied to it. There is nothing that is just throw-away."
Computers used in the development of the film were four times faster than those used in The Incredibles and 1,000 times faster than those used in Toy Story. To build the cars, the animators used computer platforms similar to those used in the design of real-world automobiles.
Main article: Cars (soundtrack)
The Cars soundtrack was released by Walt Disney Records on June 6, 2006. Nine tracks on the soundtrack are by popular artists, while the remaining eleven are score cues by Randy Newman. It has two versions of the classic Bobby Troup jazz standard "Route 66" (popularized by Nat King Cole), one by Chuck Berry and a new version recorded specifically for the film's credits performed by John Mayer.Brad Paisley contributed two of the nine tracks to the album, one being "Find Yourself" used for the end credits.
Cars was originally set to be released on November 4, 2005, but on December 7, 2004, its release date was changed to June 9, 2006. Analysts looked at the release date change as a sign from Pixar that they were preparing for the pending end of the Disney distribution contract by either preparing non-Disney materials to present to other studios, or they were buying time to see what happened with Michael Eisner's situation at Disney. When Pixar's chief executive Steve Jobs made the release date announcement, he stated that the reasoning was due to wanting to put all Pixar films on a summer release schedule, with DVD sales occurring during the holiday shopping season.
Cars was released on DVD, in wide- and full-screen editions, on November 7, 2006 in the United States and Canada. This DVD was also released on October 25 in Australia and New Zealand and on November 27 in the United Kingdom. The release includes the DVD-exclusive short film Mater and the Ghostlight and the film's theatrical short One Man Band as well as a 16-minute-long documentary about the film entitled Inspiration for Cars, which features director John Lasseter. It also featured the Pixar short Boundin'.
According to the Walt Disney Company, five million copies of the DVD were sold the first two days it was available. The first week, it sold 6,250,856 units and 15,370,791 in total ($246,198,859). Unlike previous Pixar DVD releases, there is no two-disc special edition, and no plans to release one in the future. According to Sara Maher, DVD Production Manager at Pixar, John Lasseter and Pixar were preoccupied with productions like Ratatouille.
In the US and Canada, there were bonus discs available with the purchase of the film at Wal-Mart and at Target. The former featured a Geared-Up Bonus DVD Disc that focused on the music of the film, including the music video to "Life Is A Highway", The Making of "Life Is A Highway", Cars: The Making of the Music, and Under The Hood, a special that originally aired on the ABC Family cable channel. The latter's bonus was a Rev'd Up DVD Disc that featured material mostly already released as part of the official Carspodcast and focused on the inspiration and production of the movie.
Cars was also released on Blu-ray Disc on November 6, 2007, one year after the DVD release. It was the first Pixar film to be released on Blu-ray (alongside Ratatouille and Pixar Short Films Collection, Volume 1), and was re-released as a Blu-Ray Disc and DVD combo pack and DVD only edition in April 2011. The film was released for the first time in 3D on October 29, 2013, as part of Cars: Ultimate Collector's Edition, which included the releases on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, and DVD.
Main article: Cars (video game)
A video game of the same name was released on June 6, 2006, for Game Boy Advance, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo DS, Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and Xbox. It was also released on October 23, 2006, for Xbox 360 and November 16, 2006, for Wii. The video game got mainly positive reviews. GameSpot gave 7.0 out of 10 for Xbox 360 and Wii versions, for PlayStation 2, 7.6 out of 10 for the GameCube and Xbox versions, and 7.4 out of 10 for the PSP version.Metacritic gave 65 out of 100 for the Wii version, 54 out of 100 for the DS version, 73 out of 100 for the PC version, 71 out of 100 for the PlayStation 2 version, and 70 out of 100 for the PSP version.
Cars was met with positive reviews. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 74% approval rating with an average rating of 6.9/10 based on 198 reviews. The site's consensus reads "Cars offers visual treats that more than compensate for its somewhat thinly written story, adding up to a satisfying diversion for younger viewers." Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 73 out of 100 based on 39 reviews.
William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer praised it as "one of Pixar's most imaginative and thoroughly appealing movies ever" and Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly called it "a work of American art as classic as it is modern."Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three out of four stars, saying that the movie "is great to look at and a lot of fun, but somehow lacks the extra push of the other Pixar films. Maybe that's because there's less at stake here, and no child-surrogate to identify with."Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "Fueled with plenty of humor, action, heartfelt drama, and amazing new technical feats, Cars is a high octane delight for moviegoers of all ages." Richard Corliss of Time gave the film a positive review, saying "Existing both in turbo-charged today and the gentler '50s, straddling the realms of Pixar styling and old Disney heart, this new-model Cars is an instant classic." Brian Lowry of Variety gave the film a negative review, saying "Despite representing another impressive technical achievement, it's the least visually interesting of the computer-animation boutique's movies, and -- in an ironic twist for a story about auto racing -- drifts slowly through its semi-arid midsection." Robert Wilonsky of The Village Voice gave the film a positive review, saying "What ultimately redeems Cars from turning out a total lemon is its soul. Lasseter loves these animated inanimate objects as though they were kin, and it shows in every beautifully rendered frame." Ella Taylor of L.A. Weekly gave the film a positive review, saying "Cars cheerfully hitches cutting-edge animation to a folksy narrative plugging friendship, community and a Luddite mistrust of high tech."
Gene Seymour of Newsday gave the film three out of four stars, saying "And as pop flies go, Cars is pretty to watch, even as it loops, drifts and, at times, looks as if it's just hanging in midair." Colin Covert of the Star Tribune gave the film a positive review, saying "It takes everything that's made Pixar shorthand for animation excellence -- strong characters, tight pacing, spot-on voice casting, a warm sense of humor and visuals that are pure, pixilated bliss -- and carries them to the next stage." Bill Muller of The Arizona Republic gave the film four out of five stars, saying "The truest measure of the movie is that eventually we forget we're watching a bunch of vehicles with faces and start to think of them as individual characters. It's quite an accomplishment, and perhaps one only possible by Pixar." Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times gave the film four out of five stars, saying "What's surprising about this supremely engaging film is the source of its curb appeal: It has heart." Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post gave the film a positive review, saying "It's the latest concoction from the geniuses at Pixar, probably the most inventive of the Computer Generated Imagery shop -- and the film's great fun, if well under the level of the first Toy Story." Jessica Reaves of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "While it's a technically perfect movie, its tone is too manic, its characters too jaded and, in the end, its story too empty to stand up to expectations."James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film three out of four stars, saying "While Cars may cross the finish line ahead of any of 2006's other animated films, it's several laps behind its Pixar siblings."
Joe Williams of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gave the film an A-, saying "It's powered by a human heart through a roadway of natural wonders and cultural signposts en route to the checkered flag." Lisa Kennedy of The Denver Post gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Cars idles at times. And it's not until its final laps that the movie gains the emotional traction we've come to expect from the Toy Story and Nemo crews." Tom Long of The Detroit News gave the film a B+, saying "It's touching, it's funny, it offers cautions about the modern pace of life, and it depends on a sense of rural Americana for its soul." Rick Groen of The Globe and Mail gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four, saying "For parents out there whose future holds the certain prospect of the DVD version blaring repeatedly from family-room screens, let this be your advisory. Warning: Cars comes unequipped with two essential options -- charm and a good muffler." Amy Biancolli of the Houston Chronicle gave the film three out of four stars, saying "It thunders ahead with breezy abandon, scoring big grins on its way." Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News gave the film four out of four stars, saying "It achieves the near impossible, turning cars, trucks, tractors, and farm harvesters into cute Disney characters whose fates you'll care about." Lou Lumenick of the New York Post gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "Cars somewhat self-indulgently runs nearly two hours -- but overall, it's well worth the trip." Lisa Rose of the Newark Star-Ledger gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "It's another innovative piece of entertainment from the animation studio, taking the audience on a kinetic trip into a world populated only by automobiles."
Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film a positive review, saying "The animation is stunningly rendered. But the story is always the critical element in Pixar movies, and Cars' story is heartfelt with a clear and unabashed moral." David Edelstein of New York Magazine gave the film a positive review, saying "Like the Toy Story films, Cars is a state-of-the-computer-art plea on behalf of outmoded, wholesome fifties technology, with a dash of Zen by way of George Lucas." Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel gave the film three out of five stars, saying "It's beautiful to look at. The talking cars feel more alive than talking cars should." Peter Howell of the Toronto Star gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Cars made me want to hop in my jalopy and to head out to Route 66, bypassing the boring interstate highways that made the Mother Road redundant." Moira MacDonald of The Seattle Times gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "Though the central idea of nostalgia for a quieter, small-town life may well be lost on this movie's young audience -- Cars finds a pleasant and often sparkling groove." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film two out of five stars, saying "Cars might get us into car world as a gimmick, but it doesn't get us into car world as a state of mind. Thus, the animation, rather than seeming like an expression of the movie's deeper truth, becomes an impediment to it." Derek Adams of Time Out gave the film a positive review, saying "There are many other brilliant scenes, some just as funny but there are just as many occasions where you feel the film's struggling to fire on all cylinders. Still, it's a Pixar film, right? And they're always worth a gander no matter what anyone says."
In its opening weekend, Cars earned $60,119,509 in 3,985 theaters in the United States, ranking number one at the box office. In the United States, the film held onto the number one spot for two weeks before being surpassed by Click and then by Superman Returns the following weekend. It went on to gross $462,216,280 worldwide (ranking number six in 2006 films) and $244,082,982 in the United States (the third highest-grossing film of 2006 in the country, behind Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Night at the Museum). It was the second highest-grossing film released by Walt Disney Pictures, behind Dead Man's Chest and was the highest-grossing animated film of 2006 in the United States, but lost to Ice Age: The Meltdown with $655,388,158 in worldwide totals.
Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Cars
Cars had a highly successful run during the 2006 awards season. Many film critic associations such as the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review named it the best Animated Feature Film of 2006.Cars also received the title of Best Reviewed Animated Feature of 2006 from Rotten Tomatoes.Randy Newman and James Taylor received a Grammy Award for the song "Our Town," which later went on to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song (an award it lost to "I Need to Wake Up" from An Inconvenient Truth). The film also earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature, but it lost to Happy Feet.Cars was also selected as the Favorite Family Movie at the 33rd People's Choice Awards. The most prestigious award that Cars received was the inaugural Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film.Cars also won the highest award for animation in 2006, the Best Animated Feature Annie Award. In 2008, the American Film Institute nominated this film for its Top 10 Animation Films list. In 2008, the American Film Institute nominated this film for its Top 10 Animation Films list.
Marcus Aurelius Canônico of Folha de S.Paulo described The Little Cars series (Os Carrinhos in Portuguese), a Brazilian computer graphics film series, as a derivative of Cars. Canônico discussed whether lawsuits from Pixar would appear. The Brazilian Ministry of Culture posted Marcus Aurelius Canônico's article on its website.
It has also been noted that the plot of Cars bears a striking resemblance to that of Doc Hollywood, the 1991 romantic comedy which stars Michael J. Fox as a hotshot young doctor, who, after causing a traffic accident in a small town, is sentenced to work at the town hospital, falls in love with a local law student and eventually acquires an appreciation for small town values. Some have gone so far as to say that the makers of Carsplagiarized the script of Doc Hollywood.
Main articles: Cars 2 and Cars 3
A sequel to the film, titled Cars 2, was released on June 24, 2011. It was directed again by John Lasseter, who was inspired for the film while traveling around the world promoting the first film. In the sequel, Lightning McQueen and Mater head to Japan and Europe to compete in the World Grand Prix, but Mater becomes sidetracked with international espionage. The film failed to meet or exceed the critical success of its predecessor, but was still a box office success.
A second sequel, titled Cars 3, was released on June 16, 2017. Lasseter didn't return to direct so Brian Fee took over the directors chair. The film focuses on Lightning McQueen, now a veteran racer, who gets a help from a young race car, Cruz Ramirez, to instruct him for the increasingly high-tech world.
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