Monday, April 24, 2017

This Day in Pixar History: Pixar Announces Coco

Five years ago today, on April 24, 2012, Pixar announced their film lineup through 2015 at CinemaCon. This was an exciting time for Pixar; it was only a couple of months before the release of Brave, and Monsters University was well into production with a release date of the following year, and all of us Pixar fans were clamoring to hear about a couple other untitled films. Back in 2011, Pixar had announced that Bob Peterson and Peter Sohn were working on a film, and all we knew is that the working title was The Untitled Film About Dinosaurs. Well, during the conference Pixar tweeted the official title, The Good Dinosaur. In addition, we knew Pete Docter was also working on a new film, appropriately titled The Untitled Film That Takes You Inside The Mind, but at the conference it received its official release date, June 19, 2015.

The final announcement was that Lee Unkrich was teaming up again with Darla K. Anderson to bring us a film about the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos. Unkrich and Anderson had last worked together on the 2010 blockbuster Toy Story 3. Very little else was known about the film, no release date was provided (although rumors were that it would come out in 2015 or 2016) and all we were left with was this short synopsis:
From director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson, the filmmaking team behind the Academy Award®-winning “Toy Story 3,” comes a wholly original Pixar Animation Studios film that delves into the vibrant holiday of Día de los Muertos.

 Now, 5 years later, we're just a little less than 7 months away from the release of Coco!

Coco looks to be a visually stunning and unique film! Thinking back to the announcements from that day in 2012 fills me with anticipation and excitement for Pixar's future. Between those announcements and now, not only did we get the films we knew about (Brave, Monsters University, The Good Dinosaur and Inside Out), but Pixar also released Finding Dory last year, which was the number 2 film of the year, only behind Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. And before Coco comes out later this year we're getting Cars 3 this summer! I'm so excited to go back and explore this world, and expect it to be one of the biggest hits of the summer. That's a total of 7 films. What does that mean for the next 5 years? After Coco, there are only 2 officially announced films, The Incredibles 2 for 2018 and Toy Story 4 in 2019. Plus, there are 2 untitled films scheduled for 2020. What are those 2 films, and what's in store for the following 2 years? And then what will be on the slate 5 years from now? Here's a few names to think about: Pete Docter, Pete Sohn, Bob Peterson, Dan Scanlon, Ronnie del Carmen, Enrico Casarosa, Angus MacLane, Mark Andrews, Andrew Stanton. Thinking about these folks and what they may be dreaming up just gets me pumped for Pixar's future!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

This Day in Pixar History: Development of the First Cars Film

Pixar's next film, Cars 3, will be in theaters exactly 4 months from today, and the marketing for the film is definitely heating up! We've had that shocking teaser trailer plus the special preview that took place at the Detroit Auto Show (check out the great write-up from the Pixar Post). I can't wait!

While waiting for Cars 3 to arrive, I've been spending time watching the two earlier Cars films and their bonus features. I've previously written about my love for the original Cars, including a couple of my own trips along the Main Street of America, but I thought it would be good to explore one specific aspect of the film's development. I very briefly mentioned this in the last line of a post back in 2013 but only recently thought about the impact it must have had on the company and employees.

The development of Cars can be traced back to 1998 near the end of production for A Bug's Life, when story artist Jorgen Klubien began development on a concept referred to as The Yellow Car. The story really took off in 2001 after director John Lasseter took his family on a cross-country road trip that included driving on Route 66. As with all Pixar films, there was plenty of research done. For Cars, that included a couple of road trips along Route 66, which were highlighted in the Route 66 Memory Lane bonus feature on the Cars DVD and Blu-Ray. In the feature, you can hear John's passion as he recounts many of the people and locations they saw as they traveled the Mother Road, and I loved seeing how much of the design, look, characters and even the pacing of the film were influenced by what they experienced. At the end of the feature, John states that Cars is the most personal movie he's ever made. I don't think there's any doubt that these films are a labor of love.

So imagine what it must've been like for Lasseter and the rest of the crew that as they were pouring their heart and soul into this film, they were on the verge of losing the rights and access to not only the characters in this film but all the characters they'd brought to life in their previous 6 films.

To elaborate, during the time Cars was being developed, Steve Jobs and Pixar had tried to renegotiate their 10 year, 5 film Co-Production agreement with Disney. Cars was the last of the 5 films to be delivered under the agreement. The negotiations started in early 2003, and 10 months later, on January 29, 2004, Pixar announced they had terminated the negotiations and would find a new partner to distribute their films.  According to their existing agreement, Disney retained rights to all films and characters created under the agreement. In addition, Disney could create sequels or use the characters in their theme parks. Pixar would have the opportunity to participate in, and receive compensation for, any sequels, but if they declined to participate, the final decision to move ahead resided solely with Disney. In fact, near the end of 2004 Disney announced they were moving ahead with a Toy Story 3 sequel without the involvement of Pixar.

This had to be one of the most nerve-racking times for the employees at Pixar. Throughout the last 2 years of production, they were working on a film knowing that once complete, they would hand it over to Disney and lose the rights to their work. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to come into work knowing this and still being able to keep their focus, and produce a film full of fun and heart, one with great messages of loyalty and the importance of slowing down and enjoying life.

I think for many companies this would have been too much. The devastation of losing all of your creations of the past 15 years, and the uncertainty of what the future held would've torn them apart. But in Pixar's case, it seems it had the opposite effect. I think it solidified the company and brought everyone together. They may not have known what was ahead, but they put all their passion and focus into their work and each other, committing to come up with better stories and characters. They maintained their optimism for the future.

I just love this segment of old Route 66, near Auburn, IL.

In the end, things turned out well. In the fall of 2005, Disney CEO Michael Eisner resigned from the Walt Disney Company, and President and Chief Operating Officer Bob Iger took over. Immediately, relationships between Disney and Pixar began to improve. And in late January, 2006, almost exactly 2 years after announcing they were terminating their agreement with Disney, Pixar announced it would be merging with its larger partner, which took place 4 months later, just one month before the release of Cars.

I think as proof of the positive impact these events had on the company, just look at the domestic box office totals (from Box Office Mojo) and critical success (from Rotten Tomatoes) of the 4 films Pixar released after Cars:

Ratatouille (2007) - $206M, 96%
WALL•E (2008) - $224M, 96%
Up (2009) - $293M, 98%
Toy Story 3 (2010) - $415M, 99%

As you can see, each consecutive film had higher results than its predecessor. This is how one turns adversity into success, and is another example of the strength of Pixar's people and culture.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

My Favorite Pixar Interviews and Podcasts, 2016 Edition

While I think many people were pretty happy to see 2016 come to an end, animation had a great year! Disney Animation had 2 great films in Zootopia and Moana, plus there were Kubo and the Two Strings, Sing, The Secret Life of Pets, and of course Finding Dory, which became the highest grossing animated film of all time, as well as the top grossing film of 2016 (domestically). I think 2017 is also shaping up to be an awesome year!

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and as I've done in the past I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites from the past year. Some are purely animation or Pixar related, while a few are more general. Some are interviews of Pixarians, others are somehow related to the Pixar universe, and one is a podcast hosted by Pixar artists. Hopefully some will be new to you!

Let's start with a couple that I've mentioned before and that I'm sure you're all familiar with. First is the Pixar Post - it's your one-stop shop for all things Pixar. T.J. and Julie do an awesome job covering the news and bringing you behind-the-scenes information. They've also done so many great interviews with Pixarians. One of my favorites this year was their interview with Piper director Alan Barillaro.

The Animation Addicts Podcast by The Rotoscopers is a general animation podcast where Morgan, Chelsea and Mason review films and cover animation topics in nerdy couch discussions! Never boring and filled with film quotes as well as plenty of laughs, it was a banner year for Pixar as the trio reviewed 4 of their films - A Bug's Life, Finding Nemo, WALL•E and Finding Dory.

I've mentioned The Incomparable in the past. Not just one podcast, I think they have around 20 different shows that cover all aspects of pop culture - films, books, comics, science fiction, etc. Jason Snell and his guests had 2 Pixar-related podcasts this year, where they reviewed Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3.

Dan Taylor, more commonly known as Dan the Pixar Fan, is one of the biggest Pixar fans I know! He does a post every day (how does he do that?!?!) on one of the pieces of Pixar merchandise in his collection or a Pixar-related experience. And early in 2016, Mike Kenny from Mike's Pop Culture Playhouse did a super in-depth interview with Dan, covering how he fell in love with Pixar and how he's built his collection. As an aside, I recently discovered that Mike also did a short interview with Sanjay's Super Team director Sanjay Patel and producer Nicole Paradis right around the time of the Academy Awards last year.

The folks at Soundworks Collection did an interview with Finding Dory director Andrew Stanton right before the release of the film. I've always been interested in the impact that sound and music have on a movie (Some early Pixar DVDs like Toy Story had sound effect soundtracks, which I thought was a great way to watch the film), and while much is made about visual effects in film, I think it's good to recognize the impact that sound design has on films (yes, I'm looking at you, act one of WALL•E). Soundworks Collection has done interviews with directors such as Stanton, sound designers like Walter Murch and Randy Thom (who won an Academy Award for his sound editing work on The Incredibles) and many others involved in sound design and editing.

An animation podcast that I discovered in 2016 was the Bancroft Brothers Animation Podcast. Tom and Tony Bancroft have been involved in the animation industry for decades. Tom did character animation at Disney for over a decade, animating on films like The Lion King and Aladdin, while Tony was supervising animator on The Lion King and The Emperor’s New Groove, and co-director of Mulan. In episode 48 last summer, Tom and Tony also interviewed Andrew Stanton. I loved this episode as they discussed the early days of Pixar, including the lunch at the Hidden City Cafe where Andrew, John Lasseter, Pete Docter and Joe Ranft discussed ideas for upcoming films like Monsters, Inc. and WALL•E. I also really enjoyed how Andrew discussed his struggles to break into the industry, and the importance of work ethic and perseverance.

Another animation podcast I found last year was The Animated Journey. In September, Angela Entzminger interviewed Pixar story artist Michael Yates, who has the distinction of having worked at 3 of the major animation studios - Dreamworks, Disney and now Pixar. It was fun to listen to Michael discuss some of the differences between the studios, his path to becoming a story artist, and his thoughts on what it takes to personally succeed as an artist.

A new Pixarian-hosted podcast arrived last year! Pixar artists Deanna Marsigliese and Zaruhi Galstyan launched Straight Against the Curve. They only published 5 episodes last year but I'm hoping for many more. Dee and Zar both have an unending amount of enthusiasm and energy, and their interviews have included character designer Chris Sasaki to storyboard artist Rosana Sullivan. Their most recent episode was a hilarious and insightful interview with The Good Dinosaur story lead Erik Benson.

Perhaps my favorite interview of the year was with Pixar's director of lighting Danielle Feinberg. I've said it before, I love anything Danielle touches. Whether it's lighting a film like Brave (or the upcoming film Coco), taking photographs of Greece or making the most yummy donuts ever, she puts her heart and energy into it and it comes out awesome! She was interviewed by Samira Sohail on episode 17 of Samira Stalks, where they discussed her discovery of her love for engineering, Pixar's culture and what makes it so great, and the importance of being your own person and following your passion.

Finally, barely making it onto the list, composer Michael Giacchino was the guest on NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, the news podcast, where he played Not My Job. From listening to this and other interviews, I think Michael is one of those people that would be a blast to hang out with. He talked about how he got started with composing music in the gaming industry and how that led to him working with director J.J. Abrams, starting with TV shows like Alias and Lost, and then moving to films like Star Trek and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In a humorous exchange, he was questioned by host Peter Sagal regarding the Married Life sequence in Up and whether Pete Docter had directed Giacchino to bring everyone to tears! Not surprisingly, Michael got all 3 questions right on Not My Job!

Hopefully this gives you some new listening options. And what about you? What are you listening to? Let me know in the comment section below what your favorite podcast is, and I wish you all a great 2017!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

When Will We Start Getting Cars 3 Information?

© Disney/Pixar

Is it only me, or is anyone else wondering when the Disney/Pixar marketing machine is going to ramp up for next summer's Cars 3? I can't wait for this film, and there's been so little information. It's killing me!

To be fair, there's been some information and light publicity for the film. First, we have the brief synopsis from Pixar's official website:
Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician with her own plan to win, inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet, and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage!
Then, in late May we received some more story details regarding Lightning's new trainer, Cruz Ramirez, and the young upstart racer Jackson Storm, plus some gorgeous concept art by Noah Klocek (shown below).

© Disney/Pixar

Plus, there's been some social media activity. First, during the Toyota - Save Mart 350 race at the Sonoma Raceway on June 26th, Cars 3 director Brian Fee, Cars creative director and franchise guardian Jay Ward and supervising animator Bobby Podesta held a live Facebook video chat to talk about the Cars franchise. You can watch the video on the Cars Facebook page, or read about it in an excellent write-up by the Pixar Post.

Also, in late July, Jay Ward held a live video chat with automobile designer Chip Foose. Foose is well known for his car designs and has been involved with Pixar since the first Cars film. In addition to designing the flames for Ramone and Lightning in the Cars films, Foose provided some of his design flair to Ramone's House of Body Art and inside the Radiator Springs Racers attraction in Cars Land at Disneyland.

Finally, Pixar has released a set of fun animated episodes on YouTube called the Cars Die-cast Series. Each episode is only a few minutes long and take the Cars characters to different, real world environments. They're fun, full of detail and you may spot some Easter Eggs hiding in the backgrounds.

© Disney/Pixar

And just this week, we learned that long-time Pixarian Dave Mullins was directing the studio's next short film, Lou, which will play in front of Cars 3.  I loved Dave's quick sketch and am looking forward to learning more about this film, and seeing it in the theater next June!

So when will we get our first trailer for Cars 3? Your guess is as good as mine. It seems obvious to have a teaser trailer attached to Disney's Moana, which comes out November 23rd, but perhaps Disney will surprise us and attach it to Doctor Strange, being released on November 4th. And could we get a full-length trailer with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? What a great early Christmas gift!

Cars 3 is directed by Brian Fee and produced by Kevin Reher, and hits theaters on June 16, 2017!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Toy Story 2 That Never Was

It's not often we get to see or hear about Pixar's film projects that don't make it to the big screen. newt is a rare exception, as there was plenty of pre-production artwork released before the film was finally shelved. But otherwise, I think there's a number of projects that get started and cancelled or put on hold that we never hear about.

At one time, Toy Story 2 was going to be released as a 60 minute, direct-to-video sequel. But in November of 1997, during a showing of the story reels to Disney executives, they were so pleased with the results they requested Pixar to expand the story and make it into a 90 minute theatrical release. Toy Story 2 went on to be a huge success, bringing in over $485 million worldwide and was the 3rd highest grossing film domestically in 1999 with almost $246 million. Many people consider the film to be the best of the Toy Story trilogy.

Wouldn't it be cool to know what the direct-to-video version would have focused on? I've read a few things on the web regarding the original plan and script. It seems the idea of Woody being kidnapped was a core premise from the beginning, but otherwise I haven't found a lot of other information.

I was recently re-reading Pixar's 1996 and 1997 annual reports (what, doesn't everyone read their annual reports?!) and came across some great nuggets of information and pre-production artwork for the film. In Steve Jobs' letter to the shareholders in the 1996 report, he explained that work on the direct-to-video movie began in the summer of 1996 and would be released in the fall of 1998. Besides being excited to revisit the Toy Story characters, he gave no information on the premise for the film, but there were some storyboards, shown above. As you can see,  some of the artwork (Buzz with Mr. Spell, Buzz in the what looks to be the elevator shaft) lived to make it into the final film. But you have to wonder about some of the other boards - Buzz holding Woody out of the back of the car, and what looks to be Buzz "kidnapping" Woody. And don't you love the design of what I assume is the original Zurg (with both Buzz's) - pretty creepy if you ask me!

By the time the 1997 annual report came out (in early 1998), it had been announced Toy Story 2 would be released as a theatrical film and had been pushed back to the 1999 holiday season to give the team time to expand the story. As Steve Jobs wrote in his letter that year, Toy Story veterans Ash Brannon and Colin Brady would be directing with John Lasseter serving as executive producer. Again, Jobs was tight-lipped about the plot of the film, but there was one piece of artwork. Looking at the expressions of both Buzz and Woody just makes me chuckle!

I'm not sure how the direct-to-video version would've differed from the final film, but I'm happy they saw its potential and upgraded it to a full theatrical release. It ranks as one of my favorite Pixar films!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Disney Pin Celebration 2016 Pixar Party

As is probably no surprise, not only am I a Pixar fan but also a Disney fan, especially of their theme parks. So when the worlds of Pixar and Disney collide, I get very excited! I attended Pixar Weekend held a few years ago at Epcot, but sadly, this is one I probably won't be able to participate in. The Walt Disney World Resort is holding their Disney Pin Celebration 2016 Pixar Party at Epcot on Friday, August 26th and Saturday, August 27th (why the party isn't about 3 weeks earlier when I'm in Disney World, I don't know!). This party will celebrate Pixar's 30th anniversary and will have pins honoring their feature films, short films and characters. I was just checking out the merchandise catalog and wow, it's full of lots of unique and awesome pins and sets.

The celebration is a hard-ticket event – besides admission to Epcot, admission to the party will cost $140/person. This covers admission both days, trading board games (4 vouchers/day), auctions for pre-production and artist proof pins, artist signings, the ability to pre-purchase select party merchandise and some limited edition commemorative gifts including a welcome pin and goodbye pin set. Plus, every guest will receive a $30 Disney gift card, so that may make the cost not seem so steep.

Besides the 2 day party, you can also sign up for the Little Chef Pin Breakfast, which will be held before the party starts Friday morning. The price for breakfast is $45/person and will include Pixar-themed food such as Flick's Fresh Fruit Picks, Radiator Springs Hubcaps and Oil, Remy's Whisked Eggs, Ratatouille Style Vegetables and Mike (Cinnamon) Roll-zowski! In addition to the food, breakfast goers will also get early access to the party and a limited edition commemorative gift pin.

If you're a Pixar fan and pin collector, this looks to be a once-in-a-lifetime sort of event! Tickets went on sale in late April, so if you're interested, head over to the official Disney Pin Celebration website to buy tickets and get more information.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

This Day in Pixar History: Pixar's 1998 Annual Report

As I am fond of doing, let's step back about 17 years to early 1999, when Pixar released their 1998 annual report. 1998 was an exciting year for Pixar. Early in the year it won an Academy Award for its short film Geri's Game, and in November they had released their second feature length film, A Bug's Life. The film was an immediate success, opening at #1 in late November with over $33 million and going on to be the 4th highest grossing film of 1998 with over $363 million worldwide. But looking at the annual report you might not believe it - revenues declined almost 59% to $14.3 million from $34.7 million in 1997, and net income dropped over 64% from $22.2 million to $7.8 million. This was because Pixar hadn't received any revenue yet from A Bug's Life, and according to the Co-Production Agreement with Disney, Disney was allowed to recover all marketing and distribution costs before any remaining revenue was shared equally between the two. Pixar didn't expect to start receiving money from A Bug's Life until the second half of 1999.

Annual reports are full of lots of interesting details. Here are a just a few in Pixar's 1998 report:
  •  As of January 2, 1999 Pixar had a total of 427 employees.
  •  As of March 19, 1999, Steve Jobs owned 30,000,001 shares, or 65.8% of all outstanding shares of Pixar. John Lasseter, the Executive Vice President of Creative Development owned a little over 1 million shares (2.3% of shares outstanding) and Chief Technical Officer Ed Catmull almost 613,000 shares, or 1.3%.
  • Pixar was busy working on its new Emeryville headquarters. The company had spent $21.2 million through 1998 on the new studio and expected to spend another $38 million in 1999 and $19 million in 2000.
The annual report also gave a nice summary of Pixar's filmmaking process, stating the process was very iterative and required continued re-working of each film. The report stated the process was divided in 4 stages: Creative Development, Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production. It also discussed their digital backlot, which they equated to a traditional movie studio backlot. For Pixar, it encompassed a database of their digital models that Pixar stated could be used multiple times in future films and other animated products. They also went into their core technology components, consisting of:
  • Marionette - The in-house developed system used for modeling, animating and lighting. Also known as Menv, Marionette was replaced by Presto, which was first used on Brave.
  • Ringmaster - A complex, distributed system used for scheduling and tracking their animation projects. A key piece of functionality in Ringmaster was its ability to coordinate and schedule the processors in Pixar's render farm.
  • RenderMan - The company's award-winning rendering system. Not only does Pixar continue using RenderMan, Pixar licenses it to other studios and third parties, and it has become the de facto industry standard for rendering. RenderMan licensing generated revenues of approximately $3.8 million in 1998.
If you've never read an annual report, companies always include a section on the risks involved with their business. Pixar was no exception, and the report detailed how difficult it was to be successful in creating animated films:
It is rare for animated feature films to achieve extraordinary box office success. We believe, based on available information, that there is a reasonable basis to conclude that of the more than 40 animated feature films introduced since 1990, only two films generated domestic box office revenues greater than A Bug's Life and Toy Story, and both of those films were produced and distributed solely by Disney.
I actually found 3 Disney films that had been released in the 1990s and had done better than A Bug's Life and Toy Story - Aladdin ($217 million), Beauty and the Beast ($219 million) and The Lion King ($423 million).

While also demonstrating the risks involved, this next quote shows just how powerful the Disney and Pixar films were in regards to their competition:
During at least the last five years, we believe The Rugrats Movie is the only fully-animated feature film (other than Toy Story and A Bug's Life) produced or developed by a studio other than Disney that has achieved more than $100 million in domestic box office revenues.
The Prince of Egypt also was released in 1998 and went over the $100 million threshold, making a little over $101 million. The report pointed out though that the animated world was changing and competition was intensifying:
While the release of A Bug's Life was extremely successful, achieving domestic box office revenues over $160 million as of March 28, 1999, Antz, The Rugrats Movie and Prince of Egypt achieved domestic box office revenues of over $91 million, $100 million and $99 million, respectively. These three films were released during or near the 1998 holiday season and directly competed with A Bug's Life. Each of these films was more successful than any preceding animated feature film not released by Disney or Disney and Pixar.
Another section of risks covered availability of key personnel and the possible impact to the schedule of upcoming films:
In addition, John Lasseter, who, while directing A Bug's Life, was providing creative oversight for Toy Story 2 in his role as Executive Vice President, Creative, has now transitioned to the role of Director of Toy Story 2. Using the personnel of future films to meet the immediate deadlines of films nearing release, as we have for both A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2, may have the long term impact of pushing out the targeted release dates of future films, increasing film budgets, and adversely impacting our ability to generate creative concepts for subsequent films on a timely basis. [. . . ] Although we cannot provide any assurances that Toy Story 2 or Film Four will be released on schedule, the targeted release timing of mid 2001 for Film Four is particularly uncertain.
Film Four referred to Monsters, Inc., whose name had not yet been officially announced, and it in fact did end up getting delayed until November 2, 2001.

In all, Pixar spent 14 of their 71 page report discussing all sorts of risk factors in investing in the company. And this is for a company I consider fairly straight-forward to understand and analyze! I love a company with a simple-to-understand balance sheet that actually has a significant amount of cash, not one with millions of dollars of goodwill or intangibles. A company with a straight-forward cash flow statement where cash from operations exceeds net income. Granted, there were risks in investing in Pixar, but to me, the largest of those risks was easy to understand - Pixar revenue was driven by film releases, and since they weren't releasing films on a consistent basis it led to very lumpy earnings. I could look at the income statement and immediately understand why revenues in 1998 dropped 59% from 1997 - the majority of film, video and merchandise revenue from Toy Story has been collected, and revenues for A Bug's Life hadn't started flowing in. So while this "lumpy" behavior might scare off analysts and people looking for consistency, to me it made sense. With their sizable stockpile of cash, there was little risk of going bankrupt. It was just as unlikely that people would all of a sudden stop wanting to see family friendly films. To me, the only question was, would their future films continue to be successful? From what I had experienced, read and heard, that question was easy to answer. I had confidence Pixar would continue to generate excellent films, I just had to be patient. And in the periods between films, if the stock price began rising too much, like it did in the summer prior to the release of A Bug's Life, I could take some profit. Or, if the price dropped like Pixar would never create another film again, like it did immediately before the release of A Bug's Life, I could buy more shares. Pixar was not a company for investors looking for consistency but one for the patient investor. It was one of my most enjoyable investments, and actually still is as I continue to own the Disney stock I received when Pixar was bought out by them.

One of the best parts of being a Pixar investor in the early years was the cool merchandise the company sent with the annual report. As I mentioned in my post for the 1997 annual report, I received a VHS copy of the short Geri's Game. For 1998, I received 2 posters, one celebrating the release of A Bug's Life with Flik floating on a dandelion (shown at the top of this article), and the second teasing their next film, Toy Story 2 (shown below). These posters were large and beautiful, I think 16" x 40". Even after only 2 films, I had become accustom to the extras Pixar put in their works, such as the bloopers at the end of A Bug's Life. So as I analyzed the poster trying to figure out the roles of the new characters (remember, back in the late 90s, in-depth coverage and fan sites weren't as common as they are now!), I noticed tiny Flik waving from the grill of RC!