Sunday, June 29, 2008

Tidbits about Pixar

George Lucas sold Pixar to Steve Jobs.

Apparently in the mid 80s Lucas got a divorce and was strapped for cash. He sold Pixar to Jobs for 5 million. Pixar was the section that did all the technology for ILM (and also the animation through Lassetter, which was used to showcase the technology). So Lucas sold the technology, but he only sold a license of it, so that he could keep the technology and continue to build ILM on it. Pixar came with a license of the technology and all the assets. Steve Jobs used Pixar initially to sell hardware and software, but Lassetter’s little side projects soon proved to be the future of Pixar.

One interesting tidbit is that the first planned Pixar movie was “Monkey.” The budget got too high ($50 million back in the mid 80s) and Lucas pulled the plug.

It was also interesting that Lassetter had to be hired as a UI Designer (even though he was hired to make shorts) because Lucas didn’t want animators (he didn’t connect his effects projects with animation yet). Jobs seemingly allowed Lassetter and Pixar to pursue animation because the hardware and software businesses weren’t working. Jobs also almost sold Pixar to Microsoft, but he ended up believing in Toy Story at the last moment and instead sold use of patents to Microsoft, which is what saved Pixar and kept it going financially. Then on to commercials and movies.

Also interestingly, Jeffrey Katzenberg tried to hire Lassetter back to Disney after Lassetter released each of his animated shorts. Lassetter always said no. Eventually Katzenberg gave up and decided instead to offer a movie deal with Pixar, which is what led to Toy Story.

Katzenberg’s leadership in Disney’s early 90s animated film success is fairly evident. It also makes sense why he embraced 3D animation so quickly when he left Disney to form Dreamworks (resulting in Antz (which was the second 3D animated film, after Toy Story), Shrek, Madagascar, etc.).

So who wants to see the Pixar Monkey movie??? =^)

Can we make requests to Lassetter to go back and make this movie? Space Chimps is coming out, but I think the Monkey movie would have been a completely different story.


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