Top 10 Things You Didn't Know About Pixar

CARS 3 hits theaters this weekend and represents the latest release from Pixar. While the animation giant may not be quite as infallible as they once were, their output is still amazing considering their brief existence making animated films. There are a number of books out there about Pixar history, but here is a crash course of the ten most interesting facts you may not know about the company.

Pixar used to produce commercials to make ends meet

Pixar may make billions of dollars for Disney these days, but it all stemmed from a place of creativity. During those early lean years, Pixar made commercials to supplement their income. That coupled with their short film output over the years has helped keep Pixar's talents and skills fresh for feature film projects to come.

John Lassetter is the facial model for Buzz Lightyear

Lassetter, who has become the leader of all of Disney animation, started out as Pixar's director on TOY STORY and A BUG'S LIFE. When creating the character of Buzz Lightyear, the space toy was modeled after the filmmaker's own face. Not a bad legacy to have, Space Ranger.

Pixar's brain trust came up with their core slate of films

As explained in the WALL-E teaser above, the ideas for films at Pixar originally stemmed from a core brain trust of the founders and filmmakers at Pixar. Since their first films, Pixar has ushered the creative talents of numerous writers and animators who have gone from part of the crew to directors of recent films like THE GOOD DINOSAUR and CARS 3.

A113 appears in every Pixar film

A113 is a little easter egg that appears in every Pixar film (and even works by other filmmakers like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg). A113 is the number of a classroom at California Institute of the Art where many animation students learned their trade, including the founders of Pixar.

Luxo Jr was the first CGI animated film to win an Academy Award

When John Lassetter used the Pixar imagining computer to create Luxo Jr, the short film featuring the eventual logo for the company, I don't think anyone expected the film to win an Oscar. But, Luxo Jr. went on to become the first computer animated film to win an Academy Award and became the first in a long line of trophies for the studio.

Toy Story was almost a musical featuring a sarcastic jerk named Woody

Disney had great success with animated films in the 1990s including THE LION KING, ALADDIN, and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. As such, executives tried to convince Pixar to make TOY STORY into a musical. Luckily, the company decided to stick with the original story idea. But, test audiences did originally find Woody to be kind of a sarcastic jerk, so Joss Whedon's screenplay was tweaked to make Tom Hanks' character a little more endearing. Still, you can see elements of Woody's mean streak in the first film.

The name Pixar came from an unusual idea

Pixar sounds like a real word, but it isn't. Company co-founder Alvy Ray Smith made up the "Spanish sounding word" Pixer where co-founder Loren Carpenter liked the word radar. They combined the two and the rest is history.

They were almost sold to Microsoft

During the rough early years of Pixar, Steve Jobs toyed with selling off Pixar to Microsoft to recoup some of the losses they endured. While the deal with Bill Gates' rival computer behemoth was a possibility, Jobs changed his mind when Pixar entered into a distribution deal with Disney on the original TOY STORY.

They did not start out as a movie studio

As a company, Pixar originally was conceived as a hardware and software company, much like Steve Jobs' other company, Apply. Pixar originally designed a high end imagining computer that was meant to be used for everything from meteorology to medicine. But, the high price tag of $125,000 made it difficult to make a profit which was when John Lassetter used it to make short animated films.

Pixar was previously led by George Lucas and Steve Jobs

In it's infancy, Pixar started out as a division of Lucasfilm. One of their earliest efforts was the stained glass sequence from YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES. In the wake of the disastrous performance of HOWARD THE DUCK, George Lucas sold off the animation division of his company which eventually fell into the hands of Steve Jobs. it was Jobs who helped usher in the golden age of Pixar's success.

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