pixar facts

84 interesting facts about Pixar you probably don’t know

Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.


Amrita Khalid


Posted on Nov 19, 2015   Updated on May 27, 2021, 3:18 pm CDT

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 20 years since Pixar’s first full-length film, Toy Story. In the last two decades, the animation studio has ingrained itself in the cultural conscious of a completely new generation. If you were in first grade when you saw the film in theaters in 1995, you’ll likely hit 30 by the time Toy Story 4 hits theaters in 2018. Likewise, many of the elementary schoolers who marveled at Finding Nemo (2003) were finished with college by the time the film’s sequel, Finding Dory, hit theaters in 2016.

To celebrate the magic of the animation studio, here are the most interesting facts about Pixar in chronological order.

84 fascinating facts about Pixar studios you probably didn’t know

1) Pixar was formed in 1979, and soon after became the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm.


pixar facts

2) Known simply as “The Computer Graphics Division,” Pixar in its early days produced computer animation sequences for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983), and Young Sherlock Holmes (1985).

3) Pixar initially sold high-end computer imaging software and hardware such as the Pixar Image Computer. Founding Pixar member John Lasseter told Rotten Tomatoes he was one of only four animators when he joined the company in 1983. His main job was directing shorts that would demonstrate the hardware’s capabilities.

pixar facts

4)The Adventures of André and Wally B., Pixar’s first animated short, was produced in 1984. The plot is simple; an android named André gets chased around a forest by a rather persistent bee.

5) The android in The Adventures of André and Wally B. was named after a character in the 1981 movie My Dinner with André, in which actors Wallace Shawn and André Gregory play themselves sharing an evening meal. The movie was a favorite of many of the animators.pixar trivia : the adventures of andre and wally b

6) Steve Jobs bought Pixar for $5 million on Feb. 3, 1986. That’s the equivalent of roughly $10.7 million in 2015.

7) Pixar lost a lot of money in its first years after being acquired by Jobs, according to The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company, by David A. Price. “For the first 10 years we lost a lot of Steve’s money. A lot of Steve’s money,” Pixar animator John Lasseter was quoted as saying in the book.

8) The 1986 Pixar short film Luxo Jr. was a defining film for the company in many ways. The plot involves a young, energetic lamp that struggles to play with a ball as an older lamp looks on. It was the first Pixar film to be nominated for an Academy Award, in the category of Best Animated Short.
9) The smaller lamp, Luxo Jr., went on to become a permanent part of Pixar’s logo after the release of Toy Story in 1995. Since their creation, Luxo Jr. and Sr. have made several cameos in Pixar’s feature films and shorts. A red version of Luxo Sr. can be seen on Andy’s desk in all three Toy Story films, including the 1996 Toy Story Treats shorts.

pixar facts


10) Luxo Jr. and the trash-collecting robot WALL-E interact for the first time in a teaser trailer for the 2008 film. Luxo Jr’s bulb goes out, and WALL-E rolls in to replace it.

11) Pixar signed a three-film contract with Disney back in 1991, according to the New York Times. The deal would entitle Pixar to only 10 to 15 percent of the profits from the movies. The first film made as a result of the contract was Toy Story (1995).
12) Woody in Toy Story was originally supposed to be a talking ventriloquist’s dummy. According to the Verge, then-CEO of Disney Michael Eisner found dummies to be “creepy,” so the character was changed to the talking cowboy doll we are all familiar with today. 
pixar trivia : toy story

13) Actor Tom Hanks, who provides the voice for Woody in the Toy Story series, got the part because of one scene, according to the Verge. In the 1989 comedy Turner and HoochHanks plays a detective who relies on the dog of a murdered man to help trace the killer. After Hooch chews up Turner’s car seat, Turner scolds him in a hilarious scene that impressed Pixar’s animators.

14) The first Toy Story film was the first full-length feature film to be made entirely using CGI. It had a production budget of only $30 million, less than half of that of Disney’s Lion King (1994), which cost $79.3 million.

15) Toy Story made $29.1 million its opening weekend, almost earning back its full production budget. It went on to become the highest-grossing film that year. The film’s epic opening weekend beat out Titanic (1997), which grossed only $28.6 million.

16) One popular Toy Story fan theory concludes that Emily, the little girl who owned the Jesse cowgirl doll in Toy Story 2 (1999), is actually Andy’s mother.

17) Toy Story 2 was originally going to be a straight-to-video sequel, according to co-director Ash Brannon:
“When we started the film in 1996, the thing to do was to make a direct-to-video sequel. That’s the way Disney did it and we follow suit. Nobody was making animated theatrical sequels (with rare exceptions including the sequel to American Tail ). So that was what we did, but we knew we had a great story.”
pixar facts

18) Toy Story has two references to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. One is that Buzz Lightyear’s mission is similar to that of R2D2’s. Both have important information in their possession about weaknesses in a dangerous weapon that they must get to a higher authority.

19) The other reference to A New Hope is seen when Sid is torturing Woody; the lines are the same ones uttered by Darth Vader as he interrogates Princess Leia.

20)Toy Story 2 (1999) got deleted after someone accidentally ran the wrong function on the drive where all the files were kept. The film was saved after a member of the Pixar team (who was also a mother) revealed that she kept a back-up copy of the film to work on at home.

21)Toy Story 2 made almost $245 million in the domestic box office and was the first sequel to make more than the original.
22) The character of Sid Phillips, the vicious toy-destroying bully in Toy Story, is said to be inspired by a former Pixar employee of the same name, according to Disney Voice Actors: A Biographical Dictionary by Thomas S. Hischak. The Pixar employee, who no longer worked there at the time of the film’s making, was known to disassemble toys and use the parts to build bizarre creations.
23) The carpet in Sid’s house has the same hexagonal pattern as the carpet in the hotel from 1980 horror film The Shining.
24) Toy Story 3 is the highest grossing film in the Toy Story franchise and is the third highest grossing family film of all time. Despite this, the third film is the only Toy Story film to receive a less-than perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes (earning a 99 percent approval instead). 


25) In A Bug’s Life (1998) you can see a couple of references to Pizza Planet, the restaurant in Toy Story. A Pizza Planet truck appears next to a mobile home, and a Pizza Planet drink cup is on the restaurant can in Bug City.

26)A Bug’s Life used almost 10 times the computing power that Toy Story required. Each frame of the film took 17 hours to fully render.

pixar facts : a bug's life


27) Even though Pixar had been working on A Bug’s Life for much longer, Dreamworks released Antz (1998) a month before the former film’s release. It was suspected that Dreamworks head Jeffrey Katzenberg encouraged animators to work longer hours to beat Pixar.

28)A Bug’s Life is the second time Denis Leary and Kevin Spacey have played in a film together. The first was in The Ref (1994).

29) Dreamworks’ Katzenberg offered to hold on the production of Antz if Pixar would change the release date of A Bug’s Life, according to Businessweek. The Pixar film was scheduled to be released in the same month as The Prince of Egypt, Dreamwork’s first animated feature. Pixar refused.

30) There are at least 100 different races of monsters in Monsters, Inc. (2001).

31) Actor Billy Crystal got the role of Mike in Monsters, Inc. after refusing to voice the part of Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story. Crystal said he had regrets about not saying yes to that first role.

32) Ninety percent of the monsters in Monster’s, Inc. have Mike’s tongue.

pixar facts

33) Andrew Stanton, the creator of Finding Nemo (2003), pitched the idea in an exhausting, hour-long session to Pixar head John Lasseter, during which he used elaborate visual aids and character voices. After he finished, Lasseter replied, “You had me at ‘fish.'”

34) Stanton also provided the voice for Crush the sea turtle, which he told USA Today he based off of retired surfers living in Hawaii. He had read that sea turtles could live up to 200 years, and they’ve been known to migrate from Hawaii to Australia.

35) The production crew of Finding Nemo were all required to visit aquariums, go diving in Hawaii and Monterey, participate in study sessions in front of Pixar’s own 25-gallon fish tank, and listen to in-house lectures from an ichthyologist.

pixar facts : finding nemo

36) Sales of Ocellaris Clownfish jumped by 25 percent after Finding Nemo‘s release, according to National Geographic.

37) William H. Macy originally recorded the voice for Marlin in Finding Nemo. Stanton realized it wasn’t working, and Macy was replaced by Albert Brooks.

38) Likewise, Megan Mullally was originally cast as Dory because Pixar producers liked her role in Will and Grace. Mullally didn’t want to replicate the voice she was famous for in the popular television series, so she was eventually let go. Mullally was then replaced by Ellen Degeneres.
39) Dory Lane and Marlin Drive are both intersecting streets in the Bay area suburb of Redwood City, close to Pixar headquarters.
40) The voices behind Nemo (Alexander Gould), Marlin (Albert Brooks), and Coral (Elizabeth Perkins) are also actors in the Showtime series Weeds.
41) Following its release in 2003, Finding Nemo became the highest-grossing animated film in North America and the first film to out-gross The Lion King (1994) in nearly a decade.

42) According to the Associated Press, a plumbing company released a warning against flushing your fish down the toilet to set your fish “free,” an event that happens in Finding Nemo. “In truth, no one would ever find Nemo and the movie would be called Grinding Nemo,” wrote the company.

43) Brad Bird, the director of The Incredibles (2004), based the script off of his own experience balancing work and family.

44) Bird’s son, Nicholas Bird, provided the voice for Squirt, the young sea turtle, in a prior Pixar film, Finding Nemo.

45) The Incredibles became the first Pixar film to feature an entirely human cast of characters.

46) Samuel L. Jackson was cast as the character of Frozone in The Incredibles because director Brad Bird wanted him to have the coolest voice.

47) Holly Hunter, who depicted Elastigirl, insisted on learning military flight lingo and its meaning for her role in The Incredibles.

pixar facts : the incredibles

The Incredibles/Facebook

48) The character of Edna, the superhero costume designer in The Incredibles, is based off of Academy Award-winning Hollywood fashion designer Edith Head. Head costumed many of the most iconic Hollywood starlets during her career, including Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Jane Fonda, and Kim Novak.

49) Frozone’s speed skating scene in The Incredibles mimics Olympic Gold medalist Shani Davis. Davis said jokingly in a Dutch radio program that he was upset over not getting paid for his contribution to the film. He said, “Yeah it’s me, who else swings his arms like that!”pixar facts : frozone

50) The Incredibles is the first Pixar film to earn a PG-rating by the MPAA. Oddly enough, it’s also the first Pixar film to have a nuclear family stay intact throughout the entire movie.

51) In preparation for Ratatouille (2007), director Brad Bird interned at Chef Thomas Keller’s famous French Laundry, a Michelin three-star restaurant in Yountville, California.

52) Pet rats were kept at Pixar for a year so animators could study their movements for Ratatouille.

53) Ratatouille broke the record for the biggest debut for an animated film in France, where the film is set.

54) Chef Anthony Bourdain told Michael Ruhlman that Ratatouille was simply “best food movie ever made.” Bourdain said the “tiny details” in the film, such as the burn marks on the chef’s wrists, were “astonishing.”

55) To save time during the animation of Ratatouille, the human characters were animated without toes.

56) Bird asked a female animator to work on the the character of Colette in Ratatouille. “We gave the character of the female chef, Colette, to a female animator because she would relate to what it is like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry,” Bird told the Daily Telegraph.

57) The wine ordered by Antone Ego, the villainous food critic in Ratatouille, is a real wine and would be more than $2,000 if ordered at a restaurant in the States.

58) Ratatouille ran into issues with marketing tie-ins because no food companies wanted to be associated with a rat, according to Time.

59) Costco originally planned on selling Ratatouille-themed wine, but the Wine Institute convinced Disney to pull it from shelves because it might encourage under-age drinking.
60) Charlie Muntz, the villain in Up (2009) , is named after a Universal Pictures executive who in 1928 stole the production rights to Walt Disney’s “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit” cartoon series.

61) When Carl and Ellie go picnicking in Up, they choose the same tree seen in A Bug’s Life.

62)Up was both the first animated and first 3D film to open in the Cannes Film Festival.

63) The character of Russell in Up is the first Japanese-American character in a Pixar film to be voiced by an actual Asian-American Actor, Jordan Nagai.

64)Up is the first Pixar film to be nominated for the Best Picture category in the Academy Awards. It is also the second animated film to be nominated in that category; the first was Beauty and the Beast (1991).

65) The meaning of WALL-E, the trash-collecting robot who is the main protagonist of WALL-E, is literal. WALL-E stands for: Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth class.

what is pixar : wall-e

66) All robots in WALL-E follow Issac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics”:

1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2) A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the first law.
3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second laws.

67) When Director Pete Docter first pitched the idea for Inside Out to Pixar’s John Lasseter, he said, “Imagine the fun we’re gonna have when it comes to casting. We could get people like Lewis Black as Anger!” Lewis Black indeed plays Anger in the film.

68) The writers considered up to 27 different emotions to be featured in Inside Out. Some of the emotions that got the axe include Surprise and Trust.

pixar founders : inside out

69) Director Pete Docter said he got the inspiration for Inside Out from watching his daughter age through adolescence, according to the Washington Post.

70) A drawing of Bing-Bong by the 7-year old daughter of Inside Out‘s director of photography, Kim White, ended up in the film.

what is pixar : inside out
Image via PixarInsideOut/Twitter

71) Much like Riley, the protagonist in Inside Out, Docter was a Minnesota-to-California transplant, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune.

72) Inside Out only used 45 animators, which is about half the amount of other Pixar films.

73) The emotions “Disgust” and “Sadness” in Inside Out are depicted by actresses Mindy Kaling and Phyllis Smith, who also starred together in the television series The Office.

does disney own pixar : inside out

74) Most child psychiatrists applauded the nuanced depiction of adolescent emotions in Inside Out. “You can be angry and sad at the same time. You can be happy and afraid. These emotions are very difficult for kids to understand,” one psychiatrist said to Newsweek.

75)The Good Dinosaur had many production issues that led to its release date being moved from May 2015 to November 2015, according to the Guardian. Due to the delays, Pixar laid off 60 of its employees in its Emeryville, California, headquarters.

76) Finding Dory, Pixar’s sequel to Finding Nemo, was originally supposed to come in November 2015. Since the scheduling for The Good Dinosaur’s release was pushed back, so was the release of Finding Dory.


77) Dory is the most-liked Pixar character on Facebook, surpassing 25 million likes. She has more likes than Nemo, who has 22 million.

78) The setting of Finding Dory was changed from an aquatic park to a marine biology institute after the Pixar crew saw the 2013 documentary Blackfish.

79)Sanjay’s Super Team, a Pixar short that will be screened along with The Good Dinosaur in theaters, is the first film by the studio to feature an Indian protagonist and to be directed by an Indian-American director, Sanjay Patel.

80) Pixar’s upcoming film Coco, set to be released in November 2017, was pitched by Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich. Set in Mexico, the film follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel as he journeys to the Land of the Dead on the annual Día de Muertos holiday.

what is pixar : coco

81) Disney attempted to trademark the Spanish phrase “Día de los Muertos” for Coco merchandising purposes, which drew sharp criticism from the Latino community on social media. Mexican-American artist Lalo Alcaraz ended up creating a cartoon, “Muerto Mouse” in response. Disney gradually withdrew its efforts.

82) Incredibles 2 will hit theaters a year earlier than was originally intended. The film switched release dates with Toy Story 4, which is now slated for June 2018.

82) Incredibles 2 will hit theaters a year earlier than was originally intended. The film switched release dates with Toy Story 4, which is now slated for June 2018.

83) Samuel L. Jackson will reprise his role of Fro-Zone in Incredibles 2. The actor began recording in December 2016, as he posted on Instagram.

what is pixar
Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

84) Toy Story 4, set to hit theatres in June 2019, will likely be Pixar’s last sequel—at least for a while. Pixar President Jim Morris told Entertainment Weekly that the studio will focus on original content from 2019 on out. “[E]verything after Toy Story and The Incredibles is an original right now,” Morris said.

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance. 

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*First Published: Nov 19, 2015, 10:30 am CST