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.
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 from Marcia Lucas, 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.
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. Though popularly believed otherwise, almost none of Pixar's famous shorts were ever rendered on the Image Computer. Only a few select scenes from the short Red's Dream were ever brought to final on the machine. Pixar employee John Lasseter, who had long been creating short demonstration animations, such as Luxo Jr., 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. Though profitable for both, Pixar later complained that the arrangement was not equitable. Pixar was responsible for creation and production, while Disney handled marketing and distribution. Profits and production costs were split 50-50 but Disney exclusively owned all story and sequel rights and also collected a distribution fee. The lack of story and sequel rights were perhaps the most onerous to Pixar and set the stage for a contentious relationship. However, others recognize that Pixar got the best deal given that it lacked credibility as an animation studio, while Disney's own studios were recognized as being at the top of 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. However, Pixar did not enter in negotiations with other distributions, since other partners saw Pixar's terms as too demanding. 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 shopping 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 created a distribution deal for Pixar's intended 2007 release of Ratatouille, ensuring that if the acquisition plan had fallen through for any reason, this one film would still be released through the Disney distribution channels. Unlike the earlier Disney/Pixar deal, Ratatouille would have adhered to Pixar's preferred ownership model, with Disney receiving only a fee for distribution. 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, became Chief Creative Officer ( now reports to President and CEO Bob Iger and consults Disney Director Roy E Disney) 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. Pixar President Ed Catmull became 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.
Some other points of interest concerning the deal:
- If Pixar had pulled out of the deal, they would have been required to pay Disney a penalty of US$210 million.
- John Lasseter has the authority to approve films for both Disney and Pixar studios, with Disney CEO Robert Iger and Disney Director Roy E. Disney 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)
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 to Disney's President & CEO Bob Iger and consults with Disney Director Roy E Disney.
- Toy Story (1995) (Academy Award Special Achievement Award; nominee-Best Score, Best Song "You've Got a Friend", Best Original Screenplay)
- A Bug's Life (1998) (Academy Award nominee-Best Score)
- Toy Story 2 (1999) (Academy Award nominee-Best Song "When She Loved Me")
- Monsters, Inc. (2001) (Academy Award winner-Best Song "If I Didn't Have You"; nominee-Best Animated Feature, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Score)
- Finding Nemo (2003) (Academy Award winner-Best Animated Feature; nominee-Best Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Original Screenplay)
- The Incredibles (2004) (Academy Award winner-Best Animated Feature, Best Sound Editing; nominee-Best Sound, Best Original Screenplay)
- Cars (2006)
- Ratatouille - In theatres June 29, 2007.
- Toy Story 3 - Originally a Disney production, but production was halted by John Lasseter.  It has since been revealed that it is back in pre-production, this time at Pixar. . Tom Hanks and Tim Allen will reprise their roles of Woody and Buzz.
To date, Toy Story is the only Pixar film to receive sequel treatment. Toy Story 2 was commissioned 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.
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 gentlemen's 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 stated they would prefer Pixar to agree to work on them. Toy Story 3 was put into pre-production at the 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. 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." , others seem likely somewhere down the line. Despite the lack of sequels, the worlds of Pixar films are often extended through the DVDs and references through all their 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
- Light & Heavy (1991)
- Short starring Luxo Jr. & Luxo Sr. produced for Sesame Street
- Surprise (1991)
- Short starring Luxo Jr. produced for Sesame Street
- 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.
- Boundin' (2003)
- Theatrically released with The Incredibles
- One Man Band (2005)
- Theatrically released with Cars
- Mike's New Car (2002)
- Based on characters in Monsters, Inc.; released on the Monsters Inc. DVD
- Jack-Jack Attack (2005)
- Based on characters from The Incredibles; released on The Incredibles DVD
- 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.
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 is 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 appears and is swiftly disappointed when Buzz shows up as well. He expresses his annoyance that Buzz is in the sequel. Buzz replies, "Well of course! What would Toy Story 2 be without Buzz Lightyear?" "A good movie," counters Woody.
- 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 & Star Wars, but the end states that Monsters, Inc. is playing right next door.)
- Finding Nemo: Marlin asks a school of fish for directions and Dory scares them away.
- The Incredibles: An out-of-shape Mr. Incredible struggles to get his belt on (hence, none of the Incredible Family members wear a belt in the film, and instead sport elastic waist straps).
- Cars: Mater talks to Lightning McQueen after hitting a baby bumblebee (the bee is possibly a reference to The Adventures of André and Wally B.), and then the two watch a racing movie in a drive-in theater.
- Ratatouille: The main rat, Rémy, is discovered stealing a piece of cheese from a high class Parisian restaurant, and just barely makes off with it. Also, Rémy talks to the audience about his preference of "good food" (the food that we eat) over trash (which is what his father and friends want him to eat).
John Ratzenberger (most widely known as the mailman character Cliff Clavin from the television sitcom Cheers) has appeared as a voice actor in every Pixar feature film, and is 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 and unclean supervillain who appears at the end)
- Cars - Mack—Lightning McQueen's transport, and car versions of Hamm, Yeti, and P.T. Flea
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, and gets a humorous tribute during the end credits of Cars.
Along with John Ratzenberger (above), Joe had voiced in every Pixar feature film made, with Cars being his last appearance before his untimely death in a roadside 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".<ref>Joe Ranft Obituary from Luxo: a Pixar blog</ref>
- 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 (Radiator Springs's silent firefighter) and a Peterbilt that Lightning encounters en route to Radiator Springs
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.
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.
Release: exclusive outtakes and shorts
Three of the Pixar films featured exclusive outtakes. Each of the outtakes in A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, and Monsters, Inc. had to be created from scratch, using the same actors and actresses in the film. Many of the jokes and mess ups were actually suggested by the actors themselves. The outtakes are not only available with the purchased VHS/DVD of these films, they are also available online at Pixar.com 
Finding Nemo, Cars and The Incredibles were the only Pixar films to not feature an outtakes reel during the credits. It is suggested that Pixar did not include outtakes because, unlike their previous playful films which had childish gags, these three films were much more serious and putting in outtakes would be almost pointless. Ratatouille may include outtakes simply because the trailer (which usually gives the 'feel' of the movie) shows that Pixar's 2007 film is less serious and intended for children.
Two films to date were released with an exclusive DVD Short Film, alongside the short film that was simultaneously aired in theatres. These shorts are special as they premiered with the release of the film only.
Feature film inside references
Many of Pixar films have included insider references to various Pixar-specific cameos or jokes. Please see those films' individual pages for examples.
For other trivia, please see each film's individual page.
This film was the first Pixar film to have a warning put on its G rating in Australia. Is said "Some scenes may frighten young children." This is obviously referring to Dory and Marlin's encounter with the hideous deep-sea fish and Bruce the Shark's feeding frenzy.
For the first time, a Pixar film's rating was upped to PG in Australia (PG: Parantal Guidance recommended for persons under 15 years.) because of its brief violent sequences, sudden shocks, and coarse language. Under the PG label, a desciption followed: Medium level violence, low level coarse language. However, many people have said not to have found any coarse language uttered in the film at any time.Citation needed
- Alvy Ray Smith's Pixar History Page. Retrieved June 9, 2005.
- The Pixar Story. A history of Pixar, running from its origins and inspiration at Xerox PARC to success with Toy Story.
- Pixar Corporate FAQ. Retrieved June 9, 2005.
- Droidmaker: George Lucas and the Digital Revolution (ISBN 0-937404-67-5)
- Pixar's web site
- Template:Imdb company
- The Pixar Story: Dick Shoup, Alex Shure, George Lucas, Steve Jobs, and Disney, by Tom Hormby, January 23, 2006
- Box office performance of Pixar movies at The Numbers