Skip to comments.Why Pixar is #1
Posted on 07/02/2012 5:40:48 AM PDT by Kaslin
Pixar just released its 13th number one opening movie in a row, Brave . Most people associate Pixar with blockbuster animations. Most people dont realize, however, that two of the secrets behind Pixars success are capitalism and clean fun.
Capitalism is the foundation that allows Pixar films to come into existence. Without a free marketwhere small film studios can compete with global giantswe would still be watching ho-hum Disney films. Because of capitalism, Pixar (a startup with loads of talent) was able to compete with Disney (a giant resting on its laurels) as an equal.
Steve Jobs (the late billionaire tech entrepreneur and founder of Apple, Inc.) purchased Pixar from George Lucas in 1986. Pixar had not yet made a single movie, so Jobs took a considerable risk. He invested $50 million of his own into Pixar and nurtured its animation group to the point where Disney was willing to distribute its first big-budget film, Toy Story .
A week after Toy Storys blockbuster opening (it was the top-grossing film of 1995), Jobs took Pixar public and his shares (80 percent of Pixar) were worth $1.2 billion overnight. Pixars ability to merge digital technology with art revolutionized animated films in the way that Walt Disney did when he released Snow White in 1937.
In the late 80s and 90s, Disneys animation studio was a mess. It was cranking out big-budget bombs and had all-but-abandoned Walt Disneys legacy of innovation and wholesome fun. In fact, Disney almost killed Toy Story by demanding that Pixar animators make one of the heroes, Woody, a mean and jealous character. Woodys voice, actor Tom Hanks, even exclaimed: This guys a real jerk! when he read the initial script. It was only when Disney backed off and let Pixar control the plot that Toy Story came to life.
After Pixar released subsequent blockbusters like Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo , Disney realized that it needed Pixar if it wanted to save its motion-picture businessthe revenue source for its theme parks, TV programs, character toys and merchandizing. Disney purchased Pixar and allowed its animators to keep working independently at their own campus in Emeryville, CA. So, capitalism allowed the best animation studio to survive instead of getting squeezed out by the big guy.
Jobs told his autobiographer, Walter Isaacson that Pixar: successfully reinvented Disneys business, turning out great films one after the other while Disney turned out flop after flop. Jobs added, My goal has always been not only to make great products, but to build great companies. Walt Disney did that. And the way we did the merger, we kept Pixar as a great [and independent] company and helped Disney remain one as well.
I went to see Brave on opening night and I was struck by the diversity of the crowd; young couples holding hands, groups of teens and college students, families with children and elderly people. Pixar movies do well because they attract everyonenot just kids. The draw for adults and teens of both genders is the combination of mind-blowing technology with unadulterated fun.
Brave is a story about the tomboyish Scottish princess Merida, a skillful archeress who fights a bear, quarrels with her mother and learns a lesson in humility. The movie is punctuated by humor that everyone can get, like the pranks pulled by Meridas pastry-gobbling brothers Hamish, Hubert and Harris.
Pixars hits like Toy Story , Up and Brave retreat from the modern era of Shrek and return us to the time of Disneys Snow White . Instead of plopping random pop culture references and adults-only humor into medieval fairy tales, Pixar relies on clean humor and awesome technology to tell stories.
Shrek is not kid-friendly in the same way that Toy Story and Snow White are. For example, a little boy I know answered his parents telephone one time by singing: I like big butts and I cannot lie! His embarrassed mother explained that he had just watched the swamp karaoke dance party scene in Shrek where Donkey sings Sir Mix-a-Lots hit single, Baby Got Back. In contrast, after Toy Story came out, I think the catchphrase was: To infinity and beyond!
I think Pixars technology captivates the mind and the eye more immediately and enduringly than the vision of Shreks plumpish princess Fiona rolling in the dirt and showing off her green cleavage. As Braves princess Merida runs through the forest, her locks of red curls sway naturally (even individual, unruly strands are animated) and the sunlight dances through the trees and lands on her face in a true-to-life manner.
TIME reports: Brave is richer and more colorful than any previous computer-animated film because Pixar keeps pushing the innovation envelope, developing technology to animate non-geometric shapes.
Pixar plays to our best instinctsthe playful children we all once were and still are at heart. I think smartphone-loving teens and adults enjoy Pixar movies because they offer a high-tech dose of hope to drown out real-life disappointments. Disney, on the other hand, spent over a decade bleeding hundreds of millions on big-budget films like John Carter , Mars Needs Moms and Treasure Planet that tried too hard to create an edginess that would attract adults while neglecting to innovate in terms of animation.
Today, Pixar succeeds because it leverages the free markets to innovate clean, fun animation in the tradition of two of Americas finest entrepreneurs: Walt Disney and Steve Jobs. Now if only Washington, D.C. politicians would emulate these entrepreneurs.
I came away having noticed NONE of that, just a good story.
Excellent point. I particularly dislike sexual references and visuals in shows or movies directed at children. Bodily function humor, much as I detest it, is natural to children. (Take my word for it - I have six sons.) Sexual posturing and humor is NOT natural to children, but is imposed on them by adults with a personal interest in sexuality involving children, if you get what I mean.
Avoiding pop culture references would also help the story survive the test of time. 20 years from now, who is going to remember Snooki?
Probably not any of the guys who had sex with her, except the one who paid the child support for 18 years.
Went and Saw Brave Saturday with my wife and 3 daughters.
I really enjoyed it.
My youngest daughter is a tomboy and she really enjoyed the movie.
Pixar does great the animation is really good. The Horse looked real and so did the girls hair.
Well done Pixar.
Pixar has more artists within its walls than the rest of Hollywood.
I’m looking forward to going with my 11 year old granddaughter. She has very thick very curly reddish brown hair which, of course, she hates. So Tangled was good for us to watch and now Brave. Yay. At first I was, great, another anti-establishment feminist hero but from the reviews and trailers that doesn’t seem to be the case. I do love Pixar. We have the early shorts that they did pre-Toy Story. If you can find them, I recommend them highly. Monster’s Inc. is still Mr. Mercat’s favorite.
“The biggest challenges at Pixar are always the stories. We want really original stories that come from the hearts and minds of our filmmakers. We take years in crafting the story and improving it and changing it; throwing things out that arent working and adding things that do work. All of that is just the jumping off point for the technology and how we are going to make this happen.”
The story is central. Pixar also mixes a couple of different plot types to make their movies more engaging.
The “Cars” movies had the most pop culture references of the Pixar movies and were hand-down the worst of the lot.
I’m glad “Brave” is a superior film. I was bored to death by “Cars” and contemplated suicide during “Cars 2.”
Now, I have to admit... I liked Treasure Planet. I thought the visuals were excellent.
By now, your choice in animation would be from movies about black,lesbian princesses defeating global warming, played out with the detail and dialogue of a Hanna-Barbera Scooby Doo episode. And a ticket would cost $50.
Concerning Pixar, they have about the only watchable movies out there. We rewatched The Incredibles last night.
Free markets and family values are banned subjects in Mordor.
“But Gollum, the Evil One, crept up and slipped away with herrrr...herrrr..herrrr...yeah”
PIXAR films succeed because they are CHARACTER DRIVEN STORIES (well at least they were before Disney began killing the brand... CARS 2 anyone???)
Yes the technological wizardry brought people to the original films, but now computer animation is PASSE, not that PIXAR isn’t the best at it, they are, but its no longer a draw in and of itself.
Pixar has always TOLD GOOD STORIES first... period.
Brave is a good story, but not quite up to Pixar’s best works in the story department, but still better than 95% of the crap hollywood releases.
The Incredibles is the gold standard by which I judge movies. I can’t help it. I find myself saying, “It was good, but it wasn’t The Incredibles”.
The story is the thing. If it’s not a great story, it can’t rise to be a great movie. I don’t care how good the visuals look.
And for me, a good score is really important. I guess I’m more of an audio than a visual person.
I wonder if that guy still works there. Heh.
Treasure Planet, like nearly ever film from Disney post Lion King was largely forgettable. Yes, some of the visuals in that film were nice, but the story, the premise, the execution was thoroughly forgetable.
How the studio that made Beauty and the Beast, and then he Lion King... fell so far so fast is beyond comprehension.
Brother Bear? Atlantis? Tazan? Pocahantas? Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, Home on the range? Brother Bear? Bolt?
Some were cuter than others, but NONE remotely are memorable..they were all average films at best.. not horrible, but NOT REMOTELY the calibre that Disney was in its prime.
Shrek and its variations (Puss in Boots etc.) are for adults, not just because of the post-pubescent humor, but because of the literary background required for contextual appreciation.
You can't very well blame the story on Disney; it was a direct adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel, which was and remains a classic. If you don't like the animation, you're welcome to your opinion of course. For my part, I particularly enjoyed:
* The scenes in which the cyborg was using his mechanical appendages to help him cook.
* The opening sequence in which Jim Hawkins is riding his pseudo-windsurfing board.
* The scenes in which Captain Amelia jumps from spar to spar to personally inspect her ship's rigging (not to mention Emma Thompson's execution of the voice work).
* The entire premise of adapting the visuals of wind-powered vessels to a high-tech spacefaring universe.
Though I agree with you on the other films you list (at least, the few that I have seen), I persist in my opinion that Treasure Planet was good art.
"And when Everyone is super, then No One will be!"
This is what I see the Libs quoting (of course, excluding themselves) and that I see this echoed in Pixar is just excellent! Love them!
Okay... I will admit that I saw Brother Bear, but only on DVD. Not a particularly good film.
However, if you want a really good laugh, get Brother Bear on DVD, and watch it with the actor/director commentary. It is absolutely hilarious! It has been a long time, but the running commentary of two of the minor characters (I think moose?) was worth the cost of the DVD rental. In fact I may do it again myself...
Disney owns Pixar now.
That was my experience, I went in expecting to look at the technical stuff, and came out with a good story and no memory of any technical stuff.
That’s the way it should be.
The whole point of naming Shrek's villain 'Farquaad' was to make it sound like 'f***wad' (which in turn was supposedly aimed at Michael Eisner). How more crass does a movie get than trying to trick young children into dropping the F-bomb?
There are suspicions that, for most practical purposes, it’s the other way ‘round.
There is a huge difference between visually stunning and a good movie.
Cars 2 was amazingly visually stunning, but a horribly average at best film overall.
I agree with you that Treasure Planet had some amazing visuals, but it wasn’t a great film, it was mostly forgettable, which is why you can find it in the discount rack and playing on disney jr for free 3 or 4 times a month.
The last non-Pixar Disney movie that I thought was really good is ‘The Emperor’s New Groove.’ Quirky, surreal humor.
IIRC, it was intended to include the usual baggage, but got so bogged down someone had the bright idea of dumping the weight and releasing the quirky surrealism therein.
If you’re talking about computer-animated films, I also enjoyed the Weinstein Group film “Hoodwinked”. It was another ‘mis-telling’ of a classic fairy tale, and the humor was quite modern without being rude.
My favorite scene was when the Big Bad Wolf gave his squirrel partner Twitchy his cup of coffee. The reaction of seeing an over-caffienated squirrel bouncing off trees at warp speed was hilarious. If you listen closely, as Twitchy speeds off into the distance as he runs to catch up with the good guys and get help, you can hear a muffled sonic boom.
The capper is when Big Bad (voiced hilariously by Patrick Warburton) ends the scene with “What...have I done?”
Never fails to make me bust a gut.
Wonder if Disney was heavily involved in WALL-E...we HATED that movie.
Me, too. I still sit through the DVD sometimes, when one of the kids gets it out. It has a believable annoying teenage boy, and I really like the steampunk aesthetic.
will not see brave in theaters, or dvd, or rent, will just wait for it eventually (see http://www.themoviespoiler.com ) Many of the people I know who have seen it were “ehh”. They had four writers on this and it was a weak story and the comment I kept hearing from Disney fans was “brother bear II”
Pixar also made cars 2 but apparently that “oil man is the bad guy” story did not fit the article.
So did I--and I was the only one still up. I don't know if I'll ever tire of watching Pixar movies.
I haven’t seen WALL-E, but I did not care for Brave. Brave is about a rebellious teenager. The men are protrayed as dumb and the women are smart.
That’s the real key to their success. Yeah good business decision are nice, but their building block is well realized characters in good stories. Their movies would be excellent and successful no matter their medium. Just look at their Rotten Tomato scores, outside of the Cars franchise they’re generally in the 90s.
When Disney acquired Pixar they put the Pixar people in charge of the animation department and basically walked away. So yeah they “own” it but they generally don’t interfere.
The goat stole the movie.
That reminded me I want to see “Puss in Boots.” I put it on the Netflix list.
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