tv Money Moves With Deirdre Bolton Bloomberg March 16, 2014 2:00pm-2:31pm EDT
>> once it was the little studio that could. now it's got a big reputation for pushing the technological envelope. >> pixar invented all this stuff. >> art challenges the technology and technology inspires the art. >> that combination has brought big rewards to pixar and parent company, disney. pixar's films have made nearly $8 billion worldwide, breaking box office records. >> they've had success after success after success. it's not a formula you want to tinker with. >> and that formula is simple -- make great movies. >> we are about putting stories into the culture. we're about telling stories.
>> welcome to pixar, where employees ride around on scooters, passing luxo jr., the company's logo and iconic characters from the company's 13 films. it is a place where creative juices are fueled by foosball and ping-pong, a swimming pool and a basketball court, all in the hopes of creating the next "toy story." >> i got a staff meeting, you guys. come on, let's go. >> those staff meetings might happen here, according to pixar's chris wiggum. >> this is our main atrium. the idea was to have it open and to encourage spontaneous interactions. where you run into somebody on the way to grab lunch and you're, like, hey, i've had this idea i have been meaning to run past you. >> those ideas have led to pixar's 29 oscars on display at the front door. speaking of doors, many are closed to outsiders. >> there is a different culture here. and everybody will protect that culture with their lives. >> creative head, john lasseter,
nurtured that culture from the days before pixar was even pixar. in 1984, he went to work for "star wars" producer george lucas in the computer graphics division of lucasfilm. there he made his first short film, "the adventures of andre and wally b." the movie used an innovative animation technique called motion blur and complex 3-d backgrounds. but the plan to make more movies under lucasfilm was not to be. the legendary director -- in the middle of a costly divorce -- put the division up for sale. luckily, a wealthy investor recognized the unit's film making potential. >> i went up there and saw what they were doing and i was blown away. i spent a lot of time with computer graphics with the macintosh, and the laserwriter and stuff, but this was way beyond anything i had seen. so i bought into that dream both spiritually, if you will, and financially. and we bought the computer division from george and incorporated it as pixar. >> when george lucas sold the
computer graphics division to steve jobs, john lasseter and his team became the founding members of a new company called pixar. >> we were only 40 people or so at the time. in february of 1986, and that's when we formed pixar. so this group, the foundation of this group is about inventing something that no one else had seen before. inventing something new. so every movie we do pushes the technology, pushes the art form. art challenges technology, and technology inspires the art. >> and both depend on something else. >> everything is driven by the story. we are about putting stories into the culture. we are about telling stories. >> lasseter had always dreamed of telling a big story in a new way. >> there seems to be no sign of intelligent life anywhere. >> hello. >> "toy story," the first full-length computer animated film ever, took four years to make. it also brought the film makers to unexpected places.
>> what's interesting about computer animation is that all the pieces come together right at the end. it is like building a car, but all of the parts are spread out on your driveway for a long time. you do not know if it is going to drive well. >> drive well it did. in 1991, pixar signed a $26 million distribution deal with disney to produce three computer animated feature films. "toy story," released in 1995, was the first. >> did you know "toy story" was going to be a hit? >> we knew it was special, but you never know. whether it's going to hit or not. but we just trusted our own instinct and made the kind of movies we wanted to see. >> those movies also turned out to be films audiences wanted to see. "toy story" was a hit, grossing $358 million, more than 12 times what it cost to make. it was also seen as an important innovation in animation, winning an oscar for special achievement. pixar's success became costly
for disney, and in 2003 following a disagreement about the release of a "toy story" sequel, pixar announced it would look for a new distributor after its contract with disney expired. two years later, new ceo bob iger made it one of his first priorities to bring pixar back. the cost -- $7.4 billion. a price many wall street analysts and some disney board members thought was too high. looking back on the decision, iger says it was the right thing to do. >> the pixar acquisition was transformative in so many ways, turning disney animation into something we are really proud of again. our goal is to be associated with high quality branded ip. >> that intellectual property has turned into a string of hits for disney and pixar. with each one making its debut at number one on opening weekend. when we come back, more on the man who is considered the creative adrenaline of pixar. >> everything i do in my life is because of walt disney and how
billion. >> they've had success after success after success, so it is not a formula you want to tinker with. just let john lasseter run pixar. that is how they can be most creative in their own location. >> john lasseter, a kid at heart, continues to guide pixar in an iconoclastic spirit in his office full of toys. >> there is buzz here and rex and bo peep is there, and here is slinky and woody and the aliens and ham. behind the camera there, that is all cars. i love trains, and this is me as a lego. isn't that fantastic? >> fantastic. lasseter grew up in whittier, california, spending saturday mornings in front of the tv watching cartoons. he says he remembers the exact moment he wanted to become an animator. it was after he paid $.49 at his local movie theater and spent the afternoon watching disney's "the sword in the stone." when his mother picked him up, lasseter told her he wanted to work for walt disney when he
grew up. that was the beginning of what turned out to be a lifelong relationship with the house of mouse. >> i grew up half an hour away from disneyland. and disneyland was my favorite place in the world. >> its creator also turned out to be john lasseter's biggest inspiration. >> everything i do in my life is because of walt disney, and how he entertained me as a child and as a young adult growing up. and the films he made. >> like "dumbo," which lasseter says is his favorite movie of all time. after high school, lasseter enrolled in a new character animation program at the california institute of the arts. where he began making his own movies. "lady and the lamp" and "nitemare," two animated shorts he produced won student academy awards for animation. after graduation, lasseter joined disney, the company that had fueled his childhood dreams.
but the dream turned out to be short-lived when he was fired for going around his superiors in his eagerness to make a film with three-dimensional background. lasseter found his way to lucasfilm, where his interest in risk-taking was fueled by dr. ed catmull, then head of the company's computer division. >> ed catmull came from computer science. in science, there is experimentation. experimentation, nine times out of 10, 99 times out of 100, the experiment fails. but you do that. it is part of the process. you learn from it, you think about it, you try it again. in hollywood, you sort of feel like not only is there no net, there are probably poisoned spikes down there. so you're going to do something, i know i can land, right? at pixar, not only is there a net, but it is full of down pillows and big comforters and all that stuff. so failure is part of the process. try something, figure it out. >> "toy story" was the first experiment pixar figured out. others such as "finding nemo,"
"cars," and "wall-e" followed. each pixar movie takes about four years to make, a painstaking, often difficult process. >> every pixar film at one point in time or another has been the worst film ever. just because it is a process. we're creating this film and we watch the movie every three to four months in the internal screening of our story reels and we give notes. >> that was something that the pixar team learned from their boss, steve jobs. >> steve was amazing. steve was our founder. steve was our guiding light. we had a great working relationship with him. unlike apple, when he was there for the first time, he knew about everybody's job. so he could talk to people and tell people, give them notes. when it comes to creating a computer-animated film, he would sit back and watch us and go --
>> what is it like to not -- >> we miss him. he was like a brother to me. we were very close. i miss him challenging us. >> now it's lasseter challenging the pixar team. >> we put more pressure on ourselves than anybody on the outside. i have to pick which hawaiian shirt i'm going to wear today. >> pressure from a man in tropical shirts who starts each day rummaging through a closet with no suits in sight. or a man who might be wearing a kilt, like the one he wore at the world premiere of pixar's film "brave." a man who finds great joy in his toy collection. >> i started with little inexpensive wind-ups because they moved and they flipped. and i just kept collecting them. that was part of the inspiration for "toy story" because i loved toys and collected toys. >> and the man has an outgoing approach for expressing emotion. >> i just hug people. i have this big, broad -- my mom
gave me these big, broad shoulders. i was a swimmer and played water polo in high school in southern california. i just give people big bear hugs. >> coming up, john lasseter not only makes movies, he brings them to life. >> what is it like to see cars land? >> it is one of the great joys of my career. ♪
cars land, the centerpiece of a $1.1 billion renovation to the california adventure park in anaheim. the 12 acre expansion takes visitors inside the two "cars" movies, which john lasseter wrote and directed. >> it's going to be fun. >> clearly the pixar brand helped cars land be a successful expansion. it was expensive. it will take many years to pay off for them. >> disney sees magic in the new california adventure. since it opened, the company says attendance at the park has increased 25%. tom staggs heads up disney's parks and resorts business. the company's second biggest unit, accounting for nearly 22% of profit in fiscal 2012. and a division the company is investing in. >> one of the things i'm excited about is, this is a land, like all of our great lands, that will appeal to the little ones but right up to adults. >> six years ago, disney bought pixar and named john lasseter principal creative advisor of walt disney imagineering, the
division that designs theme park attractions. cars land is his crowning achievement. what is it like to see cars land? >> it is one of the great joys of my career. to work with so many talented people, but instead of making something become real in the computer, like we do here at pixar, it is real. it really exists. you walk down route 66 right into radiator springs, and it is exactly like it is in the movie. in a way, we were so inspired by what walt disney did with disneyland. >> to all who come to this happy place, welcome. >> you walk through that tunnel under the train station into main street and you're transported to another place and another time. and it's so believable and so authentic. >> one person who helped to make cars land so authentic, kathy mangum, executive vice president of walt disney imagineering. she credits lasseter with
guiding the transition of "cars" from movie to themepark. >> the beauty of having the director of the movie also really come as your executive director of the project -- he give us insights that we would not have normally had. >> i was so dedicated to making every detail exact and real and honest. nothing feels fake. it is real asphalt, real tile, real stucco, real brick, real wood. it seems like it has been there a long time. >> then there is the star attraction of cars land, ornament valley. a re-creation of utah's monument valley. it is the setting for the themepark's high-speed ride radiator springs racers that takes you on a breathless trip through the park. artisans worked on these mountains for two years, creating 300,000 square feet of man-sculpted rock. >> you turn that corner, you start walking and you get enveloped by the land.
>> as pixar was building a real land with roads and rides, it was also creating a fantasy world on the screen. a week after cars land opened, the studio premiered "brave," its 13th motion picture. the award-winning film pushed the envelope when it comes to technical challenges. >> when we start a project, every single pixar film -- there is something in the story that we need to do that we do not know how to do. when we start the project, every single one. with "brave" there was a lot. >> your majesty, i present my heir and child. >> it is our first period film set in history. this is extremely difficult to do with computer animation because to make it believable to the audience, everything you see in the film, the castle, the stones the castle is made of, the trees with the moss, all of this has a sense of history to it.
it has an age, you can see it in there, it's been there a really long time. we don't get that for free. live-action film, you can go on location and film something, but everything you see in a pixar film has to be designed, modeled, shaded. what i often say to these brilliant people at pixar that invent something so new it is unbelievable, and when they get done with it, i say because of what you did that is so brilliant, the audience will never notice it because it is so believable. >> so while pixar's people continue to create animated blockbusters, where does the company and john lasseter go from here? the future when we come back. >> i get excited to come. i have five sons. i have always told them -- choose something you really love to do because then you will never work a day in your life. ♪
and his superiors at disney are glad he is there. as pixar's ability to churn out hits is now more important than ever. >> pixar is still the heart of disney animation now. it is really the main driver of disney studios. so the pixar content is still new and fresh and original because it is coming out of pixar. >> and pixar's newest release -- "monsters university." a prequel to their hit film "monsters, inc." hitting theaters june 21, this is the first prequel pixar has ever produced. other future projects include "the good dinosaur," scheduled for a summer 2014 release. and two still untitled movies -- one set inside the human mind, another about mexico's day of the dead national holiday. >> hold on, hold on. wait to cross. >> pixar is also going after a new audience for its old classics. in september 2012, "finding nemo" was released in 3-d. two months later, a 3-d version of "brave" hit theaters. pixar says it will make a 3-d version of all of its future releases. >> john lasseter has often said
that we work in three dimensions. our medium is unique in that we are in the computer, able to travel around these sets, move cameras around these characters in three dimensions. so he has always conceived of our movies in 3-d. now we have the projection technology to share them in 3-d. you can see the separation between the left and right eye increase and decrease. the further apart that view of the stuffed animal gets between the two eyes, the further and further out it is going to come into the audience. >> pixar says its 3-d films keep the emphasis on what counts -- the story and the emotions of the characters. >> what can i say? the camera loves me. >> pixar's 3-d strategy also has an effect on the bottom line. >> it is a very easy way to make some extra money because it does not cost too much to convert them to 3-d. so far, disney has had a pretty good success rereleasing these films in 3-d, making anywhere from $50 million to $75 million in domestic box office off of a negative cost to convert of probably $10 million to $15 million. that is a pretty good trade-off.
>> a trade-off at the box office that also fits in with john lasseter's creative interests. >> 3-d! >> he is a real fan. he recognizes its impact as an emotional tool and as a visual addition to our movies as a way to see our world in new ways. >> we are constantly pushing and changing and wanting to do a better job and try something new. >> pixar's parent company likes the way the animation studio is always looking for ways to try something new, while holding onto disney tradition. >> oh, boy! >> we love high-quality branded content. we like iconic characters and great storytelling. the company, since walt's day, from great characters, great storytelling. >> you are my best friend. >> let's see how much we are going for on ebay. >> i get excited to come here. i have five sons, and i have always told them -- choose
>> we are finding it, we are testing it, we are there as they build it. we are on a quest to show you the most cutting-edge companies on the brink of the future. tonight, we are enrolling in singularity university, where the world's brightest minds take on the world's toughest challenges. >> the accelerating pace of technological progress means anything is possible. >> this technology will allow us to actually bring back dinosaurs. >> the melting pot of scientific genius is creating game-changing companies. >> our vision of the emergency room in the future. >> bloomberg brink. ♪