10 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Monsters, Inc.’
The premiere of Disney and Pixar’s latest film ‘Monsters University’ is just around the corner. We’ve been rewatching the original ‘Monsters, Inc.’ and digging up all kinds of fun details and behind-the-scenes trivia to share with you. Check them out below and use these Pixar factoids to impress your friends when you go to see the prequel.
History of Monstropolis
The look of the monster city Monstropolis was another challenge for the Pixar artists. Early concept drawings suggested a more traditionally spooky landscape, reminiscent of Halloweentown from ‘Nightmare Before Christmas.’ But scaring is a job rather than a way of life for the monsters of ‘Monsters, Inc.,’ so the creepy town was ditched in favor of architecture inspired by the 1960s and earlier.
The idea was that the Monstropolis economy had experienced a boom in the 1960s, but had since experienced a downturn due to the invention of television and human kids becoming more jaded and difficult to scare.
One of the more obvious in-jokes in ‘Monsters, Inc.’ is the name of the restaurant where Mike takes his girlfriend Celia. Harryhausen’s is named after Ray Harryhausen, the legendary special effects artist known for creating monsters for films like ‘Clash of the Titans’ and ‘Jason and the Argonauts.’ Harryhausen passed away in May of 2013 at age 92.
Feed the Kitty
Did Sulley’s expressions as he watches what he thinks is Boo going through a trash compactor look a little familiar to you? If so, it’s probably because you’re a Warner Brothers animation fan. The scene is heavily based on a similar one in Chuck Jones’ classic short ‘Feed the Kitty.’
Johnson, the Pre-Sulley Monster
Like many films, ‘Monsters, Inc.’ went through several drafts before the final story was worked out. In one early draft, the monster who eventually became Sulley was called “Johnson.”
Johnson was the most pathetic scarer at Monsters, Inc., not even capable of terrifying a toddler. Johnson eventually teamed up with a little girl — several years older than Boo — who was a scaring expert thanks to the constant pranks her nine older brothers played on her.
There were also many abandoned designs for Sulley. Earlier versions of the main monster were brown, orange and green. At one point, Sulley had tentacles instead of legs.
Boo’s Real Name Is…
Due to her limited vocabulary, Mike and Sulley only know the little human girl as “Boo.” But a small detail suggests that she has another name.
One of Boo’s drawings is signed “Mary” repeatedly. The little girl who provided Boo’s toddler babbling is named Mary Gibbs. One of the novelizations of the film confirms that this is also Boo’s real name.
Listen for the Voice of Miss Piggy
The voice cast of ‘Monsters, Inc.’ is full of big name live-action stars, but there’s also one actor who’s used to being behind-the-scenes. Randall’s assistant Jeff Fungus is voiced by the famed director and Muppeteer Frank Oz, who will be reprising the role in ‘Monsters University.’
The Pixar artists are known for slipping references to past and future movies into their films and there are several in Boo’s bedroom. Among Boo’s toys are the ball from ‘Luxo Jr,’ Jessie from ‘Toy Story 2,’ and Nemo from ‘Finding Nemo,’ which was released after ‘Monsters, Inc.’
The Fur Program
Soft and complex textures like fur, skin and cloth can be huge headaches in computer animation, which is best at rendering smooth, shiny surfaces. For ‘Monsters, Inc.,’a new program called Fizt was used to automate the movements of Sulley’s fur and Boo’s shirt so that the animators could concentrate on their acting.
It took a few tries to get it working, though. In early tests, Sulley’s fur would get stuck on other objects and stretch, or fail to cover enough of his skin.
The Bumbling Yeti
The design of the Yeti, a monster who was banished to the human world, is based on the Abominable Snow Monster — a.k.a. ‘The Bumble’ — from the classic Rankin/Bass animated special ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.’ He’s also voiced by John Ratzenberger, Pixar’s ‘good luck charm,’ who has voiced a character in every one of their films.
Randy Newman’s First Oscar
‘Monsters, Inc.,’ may have lost the very first Best Animated Feature Oscar to Dreamworks’ ‘Shrek,’ but it did win another very important Oscar. The film’s lone song, ‘If I Didn’t Have You,’ won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Randy Newman, who had been composing and writing music for Pixar since ‘Toy Story,’ had received a whopping 15 previous Oscar nominations, but never a win. Thanks to ‘Monsters Inc,’ Newman could finally add ‘Oscar winner’ to his impressive list of credentials,