Pixar: 10 to 10–From Toy Story to Monsters to Up

For their tenth computer-animated feature release since the company’s inception, Pixar literally goes sky high with the comedy action-adventure Up, about 78-year-old retired balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen, who finally fulfills his lifelong dream of a great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the wilds of South America.  But Carl discovers all too late that his biggest nightmare has stowed away on the trip:  an overly optimistic 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell.

Just as Carl’s journey takes him to unexpected and magnificent places, Pixar Animation Studios has been taken to places well beyond its creators’ imaginings…and it all began with the release of the first full-length computer-animated feature in 1995, Toy Story.
Nine movies later, Pixar continues to create films that mark ‘firsts’: Up will be not only the first film from Pixar in the medium of 3D (Disney Digital 3Dä, to be exact), but it is also the first animated feature to kick off the prestigious, internationally renowned Cannes Film Festival…not bad for the little film company whose first release viewed the world from about eight inches off the ground.
A quick look back at the amazing titles that comprise Pixar’s nine previous feature-film releases.
Toy Story (1995)
Pixar’s premiere release broke ground simply by being made—the first animated feature completely realized in a computer. (It took 300 networked Sun workstations approximately 800,000 hours of computing time to complete the film—each sixteenth of a second frame contains about 300 megabytes of information.)
The film looked inside a young boy’s bedroom at a group of toys, who led quite surprising lives once they were left alone by Andy, their owner. The film garnered international acclaim and awards, including three Academy Award® nominations, as well as earning more than 10 times its cost in global box office. John Lasseter, the film’s director and story writer, picked up a special Oscar® “…for the development and inspired application of techniques that have made possible the first feature-length computer-animated film.” To infinity, and beyond!
A Bug’s Life (1998)
For their next release, the studio took a journey inside the world of bugs in an Epic of miniature proportions. When a misfit worker ant’s colony is threatened by grasshopper destruction, the ant sets out to recruit a collection of bugs to help deflect the grasshopper attack…but it turns out the bugs he recruits are actually members of an insect circus. The film again racked up big international business and an Academy Award® nomination. Clever and full of imaginative jokes at the expense of the human race, A Bug’s Life represented another first for Pixar: the DVD version was the first ever all-digital video transfer.
Toy Story 2 (1999)
Back to Andy’s bedroom for Pixar’s next film, which marked the return for Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the other beloved characters who had been given life in the original film. The feature picked up a Golden Globe for Best Picture Musical or Comedy, a Grammy for Randy Newman’s “When She Loved Me,” an Oscar®  nomination for Best Original Song and earned just shy of one-half-of-a-billion dollars at the worldwide box office. It took more than 250 film artisans to create the film, which boasted 18 different sets.
Monsters, Inc. (2001)
The tale of blue-collar monsters and best friends, Sulley and Mike, scared up more than $500 million in global business—the first Pixar release to do so. When their jobs and their very world are threatened by the unexpected appearance of a human child (monsters believe all children are toxic), the duo go to great lengths to return the little girl, and encounter one adventure after another. After 16 previous nominations, singer/songwriter Randy Newman won an Oscar® for the film’s song “If I Didn’t Have You,” and the film garnered three more nominations. And another first for studio: Pixar shattered every DVD-era home entertainment sales record when 11 million DVD/VHS copies of the film were sold during its first week of release. (Only The Lion King, released before DVDs, sold more units when it debuted on VHS in 1995.)
Finding Nemo (2003)
From the imaginary world of monsters to the real world of aquatic creatures along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Pixar’s fifth release followed an anxious father clownfish going the distance (and great distances) to find his lost son, Nemo, and bring him home. The film brought home the Academy Award®  in the newly created category of Best Animated Feature, and garnered three additional nominations. The trip undersea for Pixar also netted an astounding $865 million in global box office.
The Incredibles (2004)
What do you get when a family of superheroes attempts to live unnoticed in a suburban neighborhood, but ends up being called into action when a megalomaniac threatens the world with destruction? Pixar’s sixth release, The Incredibles. The double Oscar® winner (Best Animated Feature Film, Best Sound Editing) also gathered two additional nominations (Original Screenplay, Sound Mixing). Some incredible facts: two of Disney’s famed Nine Old Men, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, lent their voices to the film (in cameos near the end); the film’s jazz-inspired soundtrack of Michael Giacchino was recorded the old-fashioned way, in analog, as it would have been in the sound studios of the 1960s.
Cars (2006)
Pixar’s seventh release zoomed around the globe in 2006 and picked up two Oscar® nominations on its way. The customary care with which the Pixar artists build the onscreen world was plainly evident in the cars themselves, which were derivations or representations of actual racing cars. Instead of placing the cars’ eyes in their headlights, Lasseter suggested putting them on the autos’ windshields, which is an idea taken from his one of his favorite Disney cartoons, “Susie the Little Blue Coupe.” The film brought home the first Golden Globe in the newly created category of Best Animated Feature.
Ratatouille (2007)
Even the short concept sounds funny: Remy, a rat, wants to be a chef in Paris. The colorful tale of the rodent with culinary aspirations won the Oscar® for Best Animated Feature and received four additional nominations. Director Brad Bird had previously won the Best Animated Feature statuette for The Incredibles. The truth-seeking animators not only observed several pet rats in action to prepare for creating Remy and his pack, but they also worked with esteemed chef and restaurateur Thomas Keller, to make sure the layout and workings of the French kitchen rang true.
Wall•E (2008)
Packing an artistic and box office wallop (Best Animated Feature Oscar® and more than $500 million worldwide), Wall•E also managed to slip in some sly social messaging about rampant consumption. The stunningly beautiful film created its own representation of photo-realism, and filmmakers even consulted with prolific and legendary live-action cinematographer Roger Deakins to create some of the most atmospheric and sophisticated lighting schemes ever seen in a computer-animated film.
From the floor of a little boy’s bedroom to the furthest reaches of space, Pixar has taken countless moviegoers on nine unforgettable rides—so now, for their tenth release, the only way to go is Up.