Thursday 20 March 2014

Pete Docter Was Given Newt Before It Was Cancelled, Says Ed Catmull

Ed Catmull's got a book coming out. Creativity, Inc. tells the story of the studio's rise "from a small, money-losing hardware company to a movie studio with 1,200 employees and a streak of fourteen #1 movies in a row that has garnered 30 Academy Awards and earned more than $7 billion worldwide." And, to help promote that book, the Pixar president has been chatting to Fast Company, spilling a lot of really exciting and interesting titbits from inside the studio's walls. Like, for instance, what actually happened to newt. Read on to find out.

We've wrote extensively about the fate of newt, the Pixar film that never was. The film was to be the feature directorial debut of master sound designer Gary Rydstrom (who has worked on the sound of no fewer than 6 Pixar features and directed the short films Lifted and Hawaiian Vacation), but for myriad reasons, it didn't happen. It was put on the back-burner due, apparently, to too many similarities to Blue Sky Studios' Rio and Crest Animation's Alpha & Omega, but we've been holding out hope that it would find its way back to the studio's packed schedule soon. The studio certainly keeps bloody teasing us (see here, here and here).

newt concept art.

Rydstrom is now directing a film for Lucasfilm Animation though. So he's out as the director. What Ed Catmull says in his latest chat with Fast Company, though, is that the studio has already tried giving it to someone else: Monsters, Inc. and Up director, Pete Docter!

"When we gave it to somebody new [Pete Docter, director of Up]," Catmull told FC. "He said "I'll do it, but I have another idea altogether, which I think is better." And we thought it was better too [Docter's concept was the basis of Inside Out, which he is directing for a 2015 release]. That was the reason we didn't continue with Newt."

Well that's a lot to process. Pete Docter, one of Pixar's most respected directors and a key member of its Braintrust, had a crack at taking over the troubled film, only to very quickly shift gear altogether - there's certainly leagues of difference between a love story between the last two blue-footed newts and a film set inside the brain of an eleven-year-old girl...

Inside Out concept art.

An exclusive excerpt from Creativity, Inc. (also on Fast Company) also spills a little bit more information about Inside Out, in the guise of an insight into a Braintrust meeting about the film. Firstly, Catmull talks about an early screening of part of the film, and quotes director Pete Docter's notes about the film's characters, saying:
"We have our main character, an emotion called Joy [voice of Amy Poehler], who is effervescent. She literally glows when she's excited. Then we have Fear [Bill Hader]. He thinks of himself as confident and suave, but he's a little raw nerve and tends to freak out. The other characters are Anger [Lewis Black], Sadness [Phyllis Smith]--her shape is inspired by teardrops--and Disgust [Mindy Kaling], who basically turns up her nose at everything. And all these guys work at what we call Headquarters."

Pixarians like Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton then weighed in with both criticism and praise. One particularly telling quote - speaking to the film's creativity as both a pro and a con - was from Bird:
"Pete, I want to give you a huge round of applause: This is a frickin' big idea to try to make a movie about," Brad continued, his voice full of affection. "I've said to you on previous films, ‘You're trying to do a triple backflip into a gale force wind, and you're mad at yourself for not sticking the landing. Like, it's amazing you're alive.' This film is the same. So, huge round of applause." Everyone clapped. Then Brad added, "And you're in for a world of hurt." 

The extract includes tonnes of other cool bits from many Braintrust sessions about many Pixar films across the years; be sure to check out the full thing here.

Inside Out - which features the voices of Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling and Bill Hader - is actually Pixar's next film, and is due on 19th June, 2015. After that comes The Good Dinosaur (which Catmull also talked about, albeit more briefly, with Fast Company - specifically, it's troubles) on 25th November, 2015, then Finding Dory on 17th June, 2016. Then, currently without release dates, we have Lee Unkrich's Untitled Día de los Muertos Film, The Incredibles 2 and Cars 3 to come!

You can pre-order Ed Catmull's Creativity, Inc., which is released on 8th April, 2014, below ( to the left, to the right; other links here). If you are ordering it, we'd be insanely appreciative if you could do it via our Amazon Associates links, every purchase helps fund the good ship!


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