Bob Iger spoke to the business magazine for a gushy feature posted today about how the animated musical film was, as he put it, “my proudest moment as the CEO of the Walt Disney Company.” Senior Editor …
The history of special effects and CG in film and their close relationship with today’s top-notch digital animation is the focus of author Christopher Finch’s new lavish 368-page book The CG Story: Computer Generated Animation and Special Effects, which peels the curtain back on CG pioneers like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, and Pixar founders John Lasseter and Ed Catmull and their respective contributions to film. As part of Deadline’s weekend programming, read an exclusive excerpt from The CG Story, available now via The Monacelli Press (large format hardcover, $75), detailing the near-disaster that almost was when the upstarts at Pixar pacted with Disney to make their first feature: Toy Story.
Go motion may have been extinct overnight, as if by a meteor bombardment, but Phil Tippet reinvented himself as the head of a CG studio, and many of his go-motion animators were quick to retrain as CG animators, adapting their old skills with relative ease to the new way of working. During the early 1990s the shift to computer-generated animation was seen as a matter of urgency in many sections of the industry. Technologies such as motion control remained in use where they were cost effective, but this was the period when CGI began to take on the dominant role in visual effects. In the world of pure animation, it was about to make its mark with even greater decisiveness.
Ed Catmull explains that at Pixar there was a plan to progress from making commercials to producing a television special and then eventually a feature film. Having developed the CAPS system for Disney, Pixar had extensive contact with the feature-animation department there, but in fact they shopped their ideas around to everyone but Disney. One bone of contention was the fact that Disney had made efforts to hire John Lasseter away from the company. Jeffrey Katzenberg, then Disney studio head, had been impressed by the shorts he had seen and was convinced that Lasseter, by then Pixar’s creative director, was the secret to the company’s success. Lasseter, however, turned down the offers because of his belief in Pixar’s future, and because of his bitter memories of his previous tenure at Disney. Those memories were also why he had been adamant about not wanting to take ideas to Disney. “It wasn’t until [then],” Catmull remembers, “that I found out the real problem. For years he wouldn’t let anybody know he’d been fired… On the Queen Mary he had acknowledged that his project had been turned down, but not that he had been fired.”
The fact that Disney now saw Lasseter as a golden boy did nothing to alter his point of view, but finally, after no other studio had taken the bait, Pixar had no alternative but to consider working with Disney. The initial approach, in fact, came from Disney. In 1991 Catmull received a call from Peter Schneider, president of Feature Animation, suggesting that Pixar make a CG feature that Disney would finance and distribute. It should be remembered that Disney’s animation renaissance was in full bloom at the time — Aladdin would shortly be released and The Lion King was in preproduction. Disney Feature Animation had always been a strictly in-house operation, and the idea of turning to an outside production studio, especially in those glory days, was shocking.
The public is about to get a first look at the revamp of Disney’s 11-year-old California Adventure — including the Pixar-engineered Cars Land and other upgrades. The face-lift, which took five years, aims to fix what Disney CEO Bob Iger once called a “brand eyesore.” The company also hopes to boost attendance at the underperforming venue, which is situated across from Disneyland in Anaheim. Disney reportedly spent $1 billion on renovations. Goofy’s Sky School replaced the Mulholland Madness roller coaster. An animatronic attraction, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure ride, replaced the Golden Dreams audio tour of California. And the Golden Gate Bridge was replaced by Buena Vista Street, which attempts to re-create the Los Angeles of the 1920s when Walt Disney first came to town and lived and worked in Los Feliz.
Disney Announces Two New Pixar Films
Who needs Comic-Con when you can do it yourself?
That must be exactly what Disney is thinking as it continues its massive second annual Disney D23/ Expo, the “ultimate fan event” taking place all weekend long at the Anaheim Convention Center right next to Disneyland (the name refers to 1923, the year Walt Disney started his studio). It’s an offshoot of the official Disney Fan Club and includes a ginormous exhibition center with every imaginable opportunity to buy Disneyana, numerous fan events and celebrity-sighting opps, and then there was today’s centerpiece: a near-three-hour preview of movies in the pipeline from Disney, Pixar and Marvel (which announced a partnership with the company in 2009 that is just now gearing up).
Call it “Mickey Con”. It’s all a bit overwhelming, so no wonder it takes three days just to get through it all. The event continues through the end of Sunday.
After his major presentation of the new Disney slate in the gargantuan arena in front of 4200 seemingly rabid fans (and a few more restrained press members), I caught up with Walt Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross in the Green Room for an exclusive interview in which he talked about the possibilities of a fifth Pirate.s of the Caribbean film as well as his first comments on the demise of Pirates team Johnny Depp and Jerry Bruckheimer’s about-to-shoot Western The Lone Ranger, which Deadline’s Mike Fleming first reported had been dropped by Disney due to budgetary concerns on the pricey pic. When I asked Ross if there was anything new to report he said, ”Nothing definitive. There is nothing new. I’m hoping to do it, I’m certainly hoping. I think it’s a compelling story and no one wants to work with Jerry and Johnny more than me, so we’ll see how it works.” And about the possibility of a fifth Pirates? The situation is obviously clouded with the Lone Ranger situation, but again he used the word “hopeful.”
Beverly Hills, CA – Tom Sherak was re-elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tonight (August 2) by the organization’s Board of Governors. This will be his third consecutive one-year term in the office. Sherak is beginning his ninth year as a governor representing the Executives Branch. He had previously also served as treasurer for the Academy. In addition, Producers Branch governor Hawk Koch was elected first vice president; Executives Branch governor Robert Rehme was elected to one vice president post and Writers Branch governor Phil Robinson was re-elected to the other vice president post; Short Films and Feature Animation Branch governor John Lasseter was elected treasurer; and Actors Branch governor Annette Bening was re-elected secretary.
BURBANK, Calif. – August 13, 2010 – With record-breaking box office tallies around the world, Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 has become the highest-grossing animated film of all time taking in more than $920 million at the global box office to date. This weekend, the critically acclaimed Toy Story 3 is expected to become Disney’s second film to cross the $400 million domestic threshold and currently ranks as the 4th highest grossing film in company history globally. “In 1995, the talented team at Pixar introduced a cowboy, a space ranger and their friends who have gone on to become some of the most beloved characters in the world. The success of Toy Story is due to the tremendously creative and innovative team at Pixar, led by John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, and our incredible marketing and distribution teams around the world,” said Rich Ross