ByBenjamin Allen, writer at
I'm a freelance writer, interview host and film-maker.
Benjamin Allen

Pixar are at the forefront of animated film and have been since they released Toy Story an unbelievable 21 years ago. Everyone knows some of the Pixar legends, but here are some things you might not know.

Pixar Was Part Of Lucasfilm

In 1979, George Lucas recruited Ed Catmull out of The New York Institute Of Technology to lead Lucasfilm's generically named Computer Graphics Division. Their sole mission was to develop ahead-of-its-time computer equipment to benefit the film industry. Lucas had a very specific wishlist for his new division which included:

  • A nonlinear film editing system
  • A digital sound editing system
  • A digital film printer.

Four years after its inception, John Lasseter was hired by the Computer Graphics Divison as a freelancer. A year following he was hired full-time as an Interface Designer. Lasseter would go on to become the Godfather of all things Pixar.

Pixar Used To Be Owned By Steve Jobs

7 years after their inception at Lucasfilm, Pixar was bought by Apple-founder Steve Jobs after his ousting from his own company. Jobs bought the company for a mere $5,000,000 and then capitalised them with another $5,000,000. While it seems like a massive investment, Jobs would get his money back with a ridiculous amount of interest a few years later.

Steve Jobs Sold Pixar For $7.4 billion

20 years after he bought Pixar, Jobs sold the company to Disney for 1,480 times his initial investment. Despite what some people may think about the iPhone inventor, you can't fault his head for business and his ability to make some truly earth-shattering amounts of money. On top of making himself a certified billionaire (again), this also secured Jobs' position as Disney's largest individual shareholder

Toy Story Was Almost Called Toyz In The Hood

Back in 2011, Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich dropped some serious knowledge on his Twitter page. He released a list of rejected alternative titles for Pixar's debut feature. Toy Story was always supposed to be a placeholder working title for the movie, and everyone at the studio was asked for their ideas. Among some of the best were Toyz In The Hood, Made In Taiwan and Each Sold Separately.

Pixar Have Ridiculously Productive Lunches

During one fateful lunch break in the Summer of 1994, while in production on Toy Story, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and several other key Pixar creatives were eating at the Hidden City Cafe in Point Richmond, California. At this lunch they brainstormed ideas that would eventually become A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo and WALL-E. Checking emails while eating a bagel suddenly doesn't seem that impressive.

A Bug's Life Is Based On Seven Samurai. Really.

In a 1998 Chicago Tribune article, movie critic Michael Wilmington detailed the similarities between A Bug's Life and Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. He also points out some awesome Federico Fellini references:

"As in Samurai, the colony here is plagued every year by the arrival of bandits -Spacey's Hopper and his depraved grasshopper gang. When hero Flik leaves the colony, it's to find warriors to fight the grasshoppers. But he goofs up and returns instead with a Fellini-esque carnival troupe, a band of mountebanks who are as much exiled outsiders as the bandits themselves.

Pixar themselves have never gone on record to discuss the similarities between their second feature film and Seven Samurai. They actually credit Aesop's Fable The And & The Grasshopper. The story goes that co-director Andrew Stanton and storyboard artist Joe Ranft were discussing the fable and A Bug's Life span out of that conversation. They twisted the story somewhat, but it all stemmed from the fable.

Some Bright Spark Almost Deleted Toy Story 2

When Pixar were making Toy Story 2, they were using a vast number of Linux computers. On Linux, there is a command - 'RM*.' When typed in it removes everything from the machine as fast as it can. Some genius ran this command on the drive where all of the Toy Story files were kept. Right in front of their eyes, Toy Story 2 was being deleted. When they checked out their backups, they realised that backups hadn't worked for the last month, so a hell of a lot of the movie was 100% gone.

Thankfully Supervising Technical Director Galyn Susman had a new born baby at home, and as such had a work computer at home which she had copied the entire movie on to. God bless workaholics!

Pixar Have Their Very Own Secret Speakeasy

Hidden away somewhere at Pixar's California headquarters is a secret room, hidden behind a bookcase, which contains Pixar's secret speakeasy - the Lucky 7 Lounge. The room was discovered by animator Andrew Gordon when he was investigating a man-sized hatch in the back of his new office. The space was there due to the air-conditioning needs of the new building. Later, a bookcase would be added, complete with hidden button-in-a-bust àla Adam West Batman. Here's the room, with Andrew Gordon and the 2008 animated short OSCAR nominees:

What's your favourite piece of Pixar trivia?


Latest from our Creators