Pixar Animation Studios is an award-winning American computer-generated imagery (CGI) animation firm based in Emeryville, California (USA).


Though best known for its production of computer-animated feature films, Pixar also develops and markets high-end 3D computer graphics technology. Most notably, Pixar is the developer of the industry-standard rendering software RenderMan, which is used to generate high-quality, photorealistic images.


On January 24, 2006, The Walt Disney Company agreed to buy Pixar for $7.4 billion through an all-stock transaction. The acquisition was completed on May 5, 2006 (swapping one Pixar share for 2.3 shares of Disney), making Pixar a wholly-owned subsidiary of Disney.







Early history


Pixar was founded as the Graphics Group, one third of the Computer Division of Lucasfilm that was launched in 1979 with the hiring of Edwin Catmull from the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT). After years of remarkable research success, and key milestones in films such as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Young Sherlock Holmes, the group was purchased in 1986 by current Apple Computer, Inc. CEO Steve Jobs after he left the company he founded with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. He paid US$5 million to George Lucas and put US$5 million as capital into the company. The sale reflected George Lucas' desire to stop the cash flow losses associated with his 7 year research projects associated with new entertainment technology tools, as well as his company's new focus on creating entertainment products rather than tools. A contributing factor was cash flow difficulties following Lucas' 1983 divorce concurrent with the sudden drop off in revenues from Star Wars licenses following the release of Return of the Jedi. Lucas also felt that a lot of the work being done by Pixar was redundant, with Industrial Light and Magic doing similar work.


The newly independent company was headed by Dr. Edwin Catmull, President and CEO, and Dr. Alvy Ray Smith, Executive Vice President and Director. Jobs served as Chairman of the Board.


Initially, Pixar was a high-end hardware company whose core product was the Pixar Image Computer, a system which was primarily sold to government agencies and the medical community. One of the leading buyers of Pixar Image Computers was Disney studios, which was using the device as part of their secretive CAPS project, using the machine and custom software to migrate the laborious Ink and Paint part of the 2D animation process to a more automated and thus efficient method. The Image Computer never sold well. In a bid to drive sales of the system, Pixar employee John Lasseter — who had long been creating short demonstration animations, such as Luxo Jr., to show off the device's capabilities — premiered his creations at SIGGRAPH, the computer graphics industry's largest convention, to great fanfare.



Business in transition


As poor sales of Pixar's computers threatened to put the company out of business, Lasseter's animation department began producing computer-animated commercials for outside companies. Early successes included campaigns for Tropicana, Listerine, and LifeSavers. During this period, Pixar continued its relationship with Walt Disney Feature Animation, a studio whose corporate parent would ultimately become its most important partner. Pixar was a key technical participant in the development of Disney's CAPS, a computer-assisted animation post-production software system. In 1991, after substantial layoffs in the company's computer department, Pixar made a $26,000,000 deal with Disney to produce computer-animated feature films, the first of which was Toy Story. Pixar was re-incorporated on December 9, 1995.



Disney and Pixar


Pixar and Disney have had ongoing disagreements since the production of Toy Story 2. Originally intended as a straight-to-video release (and thus not part of Pixar's five picture deal), the film was upgraded to a theatrical release during production. Pixar demanded that the film then be counted toward the five picture agreement, but Disney refused.


The arrangement was very profitable for both companies. Pixar's first five feature films have collectively grossed more than $2.5 billion, equivalent to the highest per-film average gross in the industry.


The two companies attempted to reach a new agreement in early 2004. The new deal would be only for distribution, as Pixar intended to control production and own the resulting film properties themselves. As part of any distribution agreement with Disney, Pixar demanded control over films already in production under their old agreement, including The Incredibles and Cars. More importantly, Pixar wanted complete financial freedom; they wanted to finance their films on their own and collect 100 percent of the profits, paying Disney only the 10 to 15 percent distribution fee. This was unacceptable to Disney, but Pixar would not concede.


Bad blood between Pixar head Jobs and Disney Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner made the negotiations more difficult than they otherwise might have been. They broke down completely in mid-2004, with Jobs declaring that Pixar was actively seeking partners other than Disney. After a lengthy hiatus, negotiations between the two companies resumed following the departure of Eisner from Disney in September of 2005.


In preparation for potential fallout between Pixar and Disney, Jobs announced in late 2004 that Pixar would no longer release movies at the Disney-dictated November timeframe, but during the more lucrative early summer months. This would also allow Pixar to release DVDs for their major releases during the Christmas buying season. An added benefit of delaying Cars was to extend the timeframe remaining on the Pixar-Disney contract to see how things would play out between the two companies.


Pending the Disney acquisition of Pixar, the two companies extended their distribution deal for Pixar's 2007 release of Ratatouille ensuring that if the Disney acquisition had fallen through for any reason, this one film will still be released through the Disney distribution channels. Unlike the earlier Pixar/Disney deal used for the earlier films, this one had the following caveats:


  • Pixar would have been responsible for 100% of the production costs.

  • Pixar would have owned the film and the rights to the characters.

  • Disney would have been paid only a straight distribution fee.

With the completion of Disney's acquisition of Pixar, this deal is no longer in force.



Disney's acquisition of Pixar


On January 24, 2006, Disney announced that it had agreed to buy Pixar for approximately $7.4 billion in an all-stock deal. Following Pixar shareholder approval, the acquisition was completed May 5, 2006. The transaction catapults Steve Jobs, who was the majority shareholder of Pixar with 50.1%, to Disney's largest individual shareholder with 7% and a new seat on its board of directors. Jobs' new Disney holdings outpace holdings belonging to ex-CEO Eisner, the previous top shareholder who still held 1.7%, and Disney Director Emeritus Roy E. Disney, whose criticisms of Eisner included the soured Pixar relationship and accelerated his ouster, who held almost 1% of the corporation's shares.


As part of the deal, John Lasseter, Pixar Executive Vice President and founder, becomes Chief Creative Officer of the Disney and Pixar animation studios as well as the Principal Creative Adviser at Walt Disney Imagineering, which designs and builds the company's theme parks. Current Pixar President Ed Catmull becomes President of the Disney and Pixar animation studios, reporting to Robert Iger and Dick Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Studio Entertainment.


Lasseter and Catmull's oversight of both the Disney and Pixar studios does not mean that the two studios are merging, however. In fact, additional conditions were laid out as part of the deal to ensure that Pixar remains a separate entity, a concern that many analysts had about the Disney deal.


  • If Pixar pulled out of the deal, they would have been required to pay Disney a penalty of US$210 million.

  • The Disney board will now include Steve Jobs.

  • John Lasseter has the authority to approve films for both Disney and Pixar studios, with Disney CEO Robert Iger carrying final approving authority.

  • The deal required that Pixar's primary directors and creative executives must also join the combined company. This includes Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, Brad Bird, Bob Peterson, Brenda Chapman, Lee Unkrich, and Gary Rydstrom.

  • There will be a steering committee that will oversee animation for both Disney and Pixar studios, with a mission to maintain and spread the Pixar culture. This committee will consist of Catmull, Lasseter, Jobs, Iger, Cook, and Tom Staggs. They will meet at Pixar headquarters at least once every two months.

  • Pixar HR policies will remain intact, including the lack of employment contracts.

  • Ensures the Pixar name will continue, and that the studio will remain in its current Emeryville, California location with the "Pixar" sign.

  • Branding of films made post-merger will be "Disney Pixar" (starting with Cars)


Executive leadership


Steve Jobs continued to serve as Pixar's top executive until May 2006, when the company merged with Disney. Today, Ed Catmull serves as president of the combined Disney-Pixar animation studios, and John Lasseter serves as the studios' Chief Creative Officer. Catmull reports to Walt Disney Company President & CEO Bob Iger as well as Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook. Lasseter, who has greenlight authority, reports solely to Iger.



Feature films




  • Toy Story (1995) (Academy Award winner)

  • A Bug's Life (1998)

  • Toy Story 2 (1999)

  • Monsters, Inc. (2001) (Academy Award winner)

  • Finding Nemo (2003) (Academy Award winner)

  • The Incredibles (2004) (Academy Award winner)

  • Cars (2006) (in theatres)


In production


  • Ratatouille—In theatres June 29, 2007.

  • Toy Story 3—Originally a Disney production, but production was halted by John Lasseter. [1] [2] It has since been revealed that it is back in pre-production, this time at Pixar. [3]




To date, Toy Story is the only Pixar film to receive sequel treatment. Toy Story 2 was commisioned by Disney as a straight-to-video, 60-minute film. When Disney executives saw how impressive the in-work imagery for the sequel was, they decided it should be reworked as a theatrical release. The resulting change in status of Toy Story 2 was one of the major causes of the disagreement between the two companies that nearly led to their split.


Toy Story is also the only Pixar film to be extended onto television, with the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command film and TV series.


The issue of sequels is a particularly sticky one with Pixar. Their feeling has been that they should only be done if there is a story good enough to justify it. Following the release of Toy Story 2, Pixar and Disney had a handshake agreement that Disney would not make any sequels without Pixar's involvement, despite their right to do so. In 2004, after Pixar announced their failure to make a new deal, Disney announced that they would go ahead with sequels to Pixar's films with or without Pixar. Although they announced their intention to sequelize all Pixar films, only Toy Story 3 was said to be in production. Although Disney stated that they would be happy if Pixar would agree to make these sequels, Toy Story 3 was put into pre-production at a new CGI division of Walt Disney Feature Animation, Circle 7 Animation.


When John Lasseter was placed in charge of all Disney and Pixar animation following the merger, he stated that all sequels were immediately to be put on hold, with Disney going so far as to actually state that Toy Story 3 had been cancelled. However, in May of 2006, it was announced that Toy Story 3 was back in pre-production, now at Pixar.


With the guarantee of full control in his hands, Lasseter has opened the door for the possibility of sequels to other Pixar properties besides Toy Story, as well. Given the many story possibilities for the various Pixar characters and Lasseter's statement that "If we have a great story, we'll do a sequel." [4], other sequels besides Toy Story 3 seem likely somewhere down the line.



Tiny Toy Stories, a 1996 VHS collection of Pixar short films.


Tiny Toy Stories, a 1996 VHS collection of Pixar short films



Short films


  • The Adventures of André and Wally B. (1984)

    • a Lucasfilm Computer Graphics Project film, prior to the creation of Pixar

  • Luxo Jr. (1986)

    • Became the source of the current Pixar logo, theatrically released with Toy Story 2

  • Red's Dream (1987)

    • Academy Award winner

  • Tin Toy (1988)

    • Academy Award winner, included on the Toy Story Golden Edition VHS and Ultimate Toy Box DVD

  • Knick Knack (1989)

    • A new, edited version was released theatrically in 2003 with Finding Nemo

  • Geri's Game (1997)

    • Academy Award winner; theatrically released with A Bug's Life

  • For the Birds (2000)

    • Academy Award winner; theatrically released with Monsters, Inc.

  • Mike's New Car (2002)

    • Based on characters in Monsters, Inc.; released on the Monsters Inc. DVD

  • Boundin' (2003)

    • Theatrically released with The Incredibles

  • Jack-Jack Attack (2005)

    • Based on characters from The Incredibles; released on The Incredibles DVD

  • One Man Band (2005)

    • Theatrically released with Cars

  • Mater and the Ghostlight (2006)

    • Based on characters from Cars; to be released with the Cars DVD


The first five short films were collected on the 1996 VHS release, Tiny Toy Stories, and were also released as supplemental features on a deluxe Toy Story laserdisc box set in December 1996. Both of these releases contain the original version of Knick Knack.


The only Pixar short film yet to be released alongside a Pixar film remains Red's Dream.


As of 2006, all of the short films except Mike's New Car, Jack-Jack Attack, and The Adventures of André and Wally B. are available to purchase on Apple's iTunes. This is perhaps because the Adventures of André and Wally B. was created under Lucasfilm (before Jobs bought Pixar) and Mike's New Car & Jack-Jack Attack are DVD exclusives (see below).



Pixar feature film traditions


The Pixar format


All Pixar features tend to have a common theme. The setting of the film is always a world in which people/creatures/objects that are not commonly thought to have normal everyday lives live in societies resembling modern American society. For example:


  • Toy Story/Toy Story 2/Toy Story 3 — Toys come to life and live in a community in their owner's room while he's away.

  • A Bug's Life — Insects live in harmony and have their own hierarchy and tiny little cities.

  • Monsters, Inc. — Horrifying monsters live everyday lives in their own community. Scaring kids is just their day job.

  • Finding Nemo — The ocean, like Earth's land mass, has its own cities, schools and communities ruled by fish.

  • The Incredibles — Superheroes live among us and take ordinary jobs and have ordinary problems, such as having a greedy boss or a troublemaking son.

  • Cars — There is a world of cars without humans, where the cars themselves are alive.

  • Ratatouille — Rats that live and survive at an upscale restaurant.



Teaser trailers


The Pixar teaser trailers since A Bug's Life consist of footage created specifically for the trailer, spotlighting certain central characters in a comic situation. Though similar scenes and situations may appear, these sequences are not in the films being advertised, but instead are original creations.


It's also interesting to note that since A Bug's Life, all Pixar Teasers have premiered along with the release of their latest movie.




  • A Bug's Life: All the insects from the circus troupe gather onto a leaf right before Heimlich bites the end of it off, causing them to fall.

  • Toy Story 2: The green alien toys come up to a center with the claw coming down. First the claw was carrying down "Toy Story" with the aliens doing their trademark "Oooh". Second the claw brings down a "2" and with the aliens turning around and looking at the audience and saying "Twoooo". Then Woody and Buzz come up with a little greeting.

  • Monsters, Inc.: Sulley and Mike stumble into the wrong bedroom. (Also, in a preview shown before the first Harry Potter film, Sulley is shown playing charades with Mike, but Mike is unable to guess the phrase 'Harry Potter'. The clip never specifically mentions Harry Potter, but the end states that Monsters, Inc. is playing right next door.)

  • Finding Nemo: Marlin asks the school of fish for directions and Dory scares them away.

  • The Incredibles: An out-of-shape Mr. Incredible struggles to get his belt on.

  • Cars: Mater, a rusty tow truck, talks to Lightning McQueen after hitting a baby bumblebee (the bee is possibly a reference to The Adventures of André and Wally B.).

  • Ratatouille: The main rat, Rémy, is discovered stealing a piece of cheese from a high class Parisian restaurant.



John Ratzenberger


John Ratzenberger (most widely known as the mailman character Cliff Clavin from the television sitcom Cheers) is always a character voice, referred to by the studio as their "good luck charm". The following is a list of his roles in the first seven Pixar movies:


  • Toy Story and Toy Story 2 - Hamm the Piggy Bank

  • A Bug's Life - P.T. Flea

  • Monsters, Inc. - The Abominable Snowman

  • Finding Nemo - a school of moonfish that Marlin and Dory meet on the way to Sydney

  • The Incredibles - The Underminer (an obese supervillain that appears at the end)

  • Cars - a truck named Mack


He has become such a stable part of the company that he is often called on to do promotional work for the company, such as hosting Pixar's 20th Anniversary documentary. He even plays on the company's softball team.



Joe Ranft


Along with John Ratzenberger (above), Joe has voiced in every Pixar feature film made, with Cars being his last appearance before his untimely death in a car accident. While some have said that John Ratzenberger was "Pixar's Good Luck Charm", there are many who say that Joe was "the heart and soul of Pixar".


  • Toy Story - Lenny the Binoculars

  • A Bug's Life - Heimlich

  • Toy Story 2 - Wheezy the Penguin

  • Monsters, Inc - additional voices

  • Finding Nemo - Jacques the Shrimp

  • The Incredibles - additional voices

  • Cars - Red/Peterbilt



Pizza Planet


Pizza Planet is a fictional pizza restaurant in Toy Story. The Pizza Planet delivery truck that is featured prominently in Toy Story appears in each of the later Pixar films. See the Pizza Planet article for additional information.





Similar to George Lucas' 1138 and Al Hirschfeld's "Nina", the letter-number sequence A113 is an animation in-joke which appears in all Pixar films to date. It is a reference to one of the room numbers at CalArts (which several of the employees attended).


  • In Toy Story, Andy's Minivan has a license plate reading A-113.

  • In A Bug's Life, a cereal box that Flik passes by has the code A113.

  • In Toy Story 2, an announcement is made over the Intercom for Lasset-Air Flight A113.

  • In Monsters Inc., a sign above Smitty and Needleman during the trash compactor scene reads A113.

  • In Finding Nemo, the model code of the scuba diver's camera reads A113.

  • In The Incredibles, Mirage tells Mr. Incredible to report to conference room A113. Later, Mr. Incredible's holding cell is actually Detention Block A1, Cell No. 13.

  • In Cars, Mater's own license plate reads A-113. The train that nearly obliterates Lightning McQueen also has the number A113.



Cameo appearances


Every Pixar film has included cameo appearances of characters or objects from their other movies or short films. Please see those films' individual pages for examples.


















Anthony Hopkins

Arnold Shwazenneger

Arnold Vosloo

Brad Pitt

Brendan Fraser

Bruce Willis

Charlize Theron

Chris Cooper

Clint Eastwood

Daniel Craig

Demi Moore

Denzel Washington

Eric Bana

Eva Green

George Clooney

Gerard Depardieu

Goldie Hawn

Gregory Peck

Halle Berry

Harvey Keitel

Humphrey Bogart

Ian Holm

Ingrid Bergman

Jack Black

Jack Nicholson

James Cromwell



Jean Reno

Jeff Bridges

Jim Carrey

Joaquin Phoenix

John Hurt

John Travolta

John Wayne

Johnny Depp

Judi Dench

Julia Roberts

Julie Andrews

Kate Winslett

Keanu Reeves

Keira Knightley

Kevin Spacey

Kirsten Dunst

Kurt Russell

Leonardo di Caprio

Liam Neeson

Linda Kozlowski

Mads Mikkelsen

Marlon Brando

Mel Gibson

Michael Cain

Michael Douglas

Michael J Fox



Michael Keaton

Naomi Watts

Nicholas Cage

Nicole Kidman

Orlando Bloom

Paul Bettany

Paul Hogan

Pierce Brosnan

Rachel Weisz

Robert de Niro

Roger Moore

Russell Crowe

Sam Neil

Sandra Bullock

Sean Connery

Sigourney Weaver

Stanley Baker

Steve Martin

Steven Segal

Slyvester Stalone

Tobey Maguire

Tom Cruise

Tom Hanks

Tommy Lee Jones

Willem Dafoe







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