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Friday, July 12, 2013
Monsters University is a 2013 American 3D computer-animated comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Dan Scanlon is the director and Kori Rae is the producer. It is the fourteenth film produced by Pixar and theprequel to 2001's Monsters, Inc. It is the first prequel to a Pixar film.
Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Bob Peterson, and John Ratzenbergerreprise their roles as Mike Wazowski, James P. Sullivan, Randall Boggs, Roz, and The Abominable Snowman, respectively. Bonnie Hunt, who played Ms. Flint in the first film, voices Mike's grade school teacher, Ms. Karen Graves. The film was released on June 21, 2013, in the United States and was accompanied with a short film, The Blue Umbrella, directed by Saschka Unseld.
Michael "Mike" Wazowski, a six-year-old monster, visits Monsters Inc., a scaring company, on a school field trip. During the visit, the class meets Frank McCay, an employee of the company who works as a "scarer", entering the human world to scare children at night and harvesting their screams as energy to power the monster world. Mike, enchanted with the idea of being a scarer, slips through Frank's door before anyone can stop him, where he watches Frank's scare performance, then follows him back through the door to the monster world. Frank scolds Mike, but is impressed with his ability to have followed him unnoticed, and gives him his Monsters University hat as a souvenir. Oblivious to his teacher's later admonishments, Mike dreams of being a scarer when he grows up.
Approximately eleven years later, Mike is a scare major at Monsters University. On his first day, he meets his new roommate, Randall "Randy" Boggs, a nerdy monster that can turn invisible. During the first class of the scare program, as Mike is answering a question, he is interrupted by another scare student, an arrogant large blue monster named James P. "Sulley" Sullivan. The class is also informed by Dean Hardscrabble, the strict Dean of the scare program, that they must pass their final exam of the semester to continue in the program. While Mike is studying one night, Sulley inadvertently barges into his room to hide the pig mascot he stole from their rival college, Fear Tech. While the two bicker, the pig steals Mike's treasured MU hat and escapes. Mike and Sulley give chase, but when Mike finally manages to capture it, Sulley gets the credit, and is invited to join Roar Omega Roar, the elite fraternity on campus. Mike wishes to join, but is rejected, magnifying the rivalry between the two.
Mike studies hard and repeatedly answers questions in class correctly, while the privileged Sulley, convinced all he needs is his natural scaring ability, begins to falter. At the final exam, Mike and Sulley's rivalry causes Dean Hardscrabble to fail them both and dropping them from the program, which prompts Roar Omega Roar to remove Sulley from the fraternity. Dissatisfied in his boring new major, Mike decides to prove himself by entering the Scare Games, an extracurricular scaring competition. As the games are only for fraternity or sorority members, Mike joins Oozma Kappa, a small fraternity of misfit monsters. When Mike and Oozma Kappa are denied entry as they are one team member short, Sulley offers to join, seeing the competition as his ticket back into the scare program, and Mike eventually reluctantly accepts. Mike also makes a deal with Dean Hardscrabble, who remains skeptical, to re-admit their entire team to the scaring program if they win, whereas if they lose, Mike must leave Monsters University. Sulley expects to carry the team by himself, but Mike believes that with enough training, the whole team can succeed.
With the last-placing team in each round of the Games being eliminated from the competition, Oozma Kappa fails the first challenge miserably but miraculously advances when another team is disqualified. They then attend a party at Roar Omega Roar house where initially the other competitors appear to accept them, but the fraternity pranks and humiliates them instead. The group is discouraged as they are now the laughingstock of the entire campus, so Mike arranges a secret visit to Monsters, Inc. to lift their spirits. After that, Oozma Kappa uses their wits and training to advance all the way to the final round against Roar Omega Roar. Even having advanced so far, Sulley does not believe that Mike can be a true scarer because of his lack of natural ability. After the team surprisingly wins the final round, Mike discovers that Sulley manipulated the equipment to improve Mike's score. Mike is heartbroken and wants to prove that he is capable of becoming a scarer, so he breaks into the school's door lab and enters a door to the human world, but discovers that the door leads to a summer camp and he is unable to scare the room full of children.
Back at the university, Sulley confesses to Hardscrabble that he cheated, just as she is notified of the break-in. Realizing what happened, Sulley enters the door to look for Mike. After finding Mike and reconciling, the pair, now being pursued by human adults, attempt to return, but Dean Hardscrabble traps them in the human world by deactivating the door until the authorities arrive. Mike realizes that the only way to get back into the monster world is to generate enough scream energy to power the door from their side. Working together, Sulley and Mike terrify the adults, generating an overwhelming amount of scream energy and allowing them to return to the lab. Their actions lead to their expulsion from the university, but the other members of Oozma Kappa are accepted into the scare program the next semester as Hardscrabble was impressed with their performance in the games. They share goodbyes and as Sulley and Mike leave, Hardscrabble approaches and tells them they are the first to have surprised her, and wishes them luck for the future. Mike and Sulley take jobs at Monsters, Inc. in the company mailroom with the Abominable Snowman as the mailroom's manager. Working their way up through the company, the two eventually become part of the Scarer Team, establishing the events of Monsters, Inc.
- Billy Crystal as Michael "Mike" Wazowski
- Noah Johnston as Young Mike
- John Goodman as James P."Sulley" Sullivan
- Steve Buscemi as Randall "Randy" Boggs
- Joel Murray as Don Carlton, a middle age student and the founding member of Oozma Kappa fraternity
- Sean Hayes as Terri Perry, an Oozma Kappa fraternity member
- Dave Foley as Terry Perry, an Oozma Kappa fraternity member
- Peter Sohn as Scott "Squishy" Squibbles, an Oozma Kappa fraternity member
- Charlie Day as Art, an Oozma Kappa fraternity member
- Helen Mirren as Dean Abigail Hardscrabble, the chair of the Scarer program at Monsters University
- Alfred Molina as Professor Derek Knight
- Nathan Fillion as Johnny J. Worthington III, president of Roar Omega Roar
- Aubrey Plaza as Claire Wheeler, Greek Council president
- Tyler Labine as Brock Pearson, Greek Council vice-president
- John Krasinski as "Frightening" Frank McCay
- Bonnie Hunt as Karen Graves, Mike's grade school teacher
- Bill Hader as Referee, Slug
- Bobby Moynihan as Chet Alexander, a Roar Omega Roar fraternity member
- Julia Sweeney as Sherri Squibbles, Scott's mother
- Beth Behrs as Carrie Williams, leader of Python Nu Kappa sorority
- Bob Peterson as Roz
- John Ratzenberger as The Abominable Snowman, a Monsters, Inc. mailroom employee
Plans for a second Monsters, Inc. film have existed since 2005. Following disagreements between then-Disney CEO Michael Eisnerand Pixar CEO Steve Jobs, Disney (who at the time owned the rights to make sequels to all of Pixar's films up to Cars) announced that a sequel to Monsters, Inc. would be made by Circle 7 Animation and that a screenplay was being worked on by Rob Muir and Bob Hilgenberg. However, Disney's change of management in late 2005 (which saw Eisner replaced by his lieutenant Robert Iger) led to renewed negotiations with Pixar, and in early 2006 Disney announced that they had purchased the studio. The Disney-owned sequel rights were then transferred to Pixar, leading to the cancellation of Muir and Hilgenberg's version of the film and the subsequent closure of Circle 7.
A Pixar-made sequel was confirmed in 2010. The film was originally going to be released on November 16, 2012, but was moved up to November 2, 2012 to avoid competition with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2. On April 5, 2011, it was announced that the film's release date would be June 21, 2013. It was the studio's fourteenth feature film. On May 29, 2011, it was confirmed that the film would be a prequel and the title Monsters University was revealed. The feature was directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae. John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, Bob Peterson, and John Ratzenberger reprised their roles, with Bonnie Hunt voicing a new character. New voice cast included Dave Foley, Sean Hayes, Julia Sweeney, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Peter Sohn, Charlie Day, Joel Murray, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza, Tyler Labine, John Kransinski, Bill Hader, Bobby Moynihan, and Beth Behrs.On August 12, 2011, Billy Crystal was asked about his return to the role of Mike Wazowski and said, "I'm a little hoarse. I spent five-and-a-half hours today for our fourth session on Monsters, Inc. 2."
Monsters University details Mike and Sulley meeting for the first time, but this created a continuity error from the first film where Mike says to Sulley that he's been jealous of his looks since the fourth grade. Director Dan Scanlon said he had a dilemma with this line during pre-production, but he believed it was best if Mike and Sulley meet in college because, "we wanted to see their relationship develop when they were adults. And we also felt like college is so much about self-discovery and figuring out who you are." He then added, "It felt like the perfect place to do this, but we had that line. So we tried versions where they met young and then we skipped ahead to college. And we knew we didn't want to make Monsters Elementary." Scanlon revealed during pre-production that, "Pete Docter, the original director, and John Lasseter... finally said to me, 'it's great that you're honouring that, but you have to do what's right for the story.' So we made a tough decision to just have them be in college and put that line aside." Scanlon also sees that line from the first film as, "an old monster expression" and "That's what monsters always say to each other."
Monsters University is the first Pixar film that utilized an improved lighting system, global illumination, introduced as part of the complete overhaul of the rendering system used since the first Toy Story film. In the planning stage of the film, director of photography, Jean-Claude Kalache, asked "What if we made these lights just work?" Before, artists had to build reflections and shadows manually, which proved to be ever more complicated as the models and the setups had become more advanced. The new lighting system, implemented with ray tracing, a technique that imitates the behaviour of the light in the real world, not only automatized the process, but also delivered greater levels of realism, producing soft shadows, and let the artist spend more time on models and complex scenes, some of which contained thousands of light sources.
Monsters University had its worldwide premiere on June 5, 2013, as a special screening at BFI Southbank in London with the director and producer in attendance. The film had its Asian premiere as the opening film of the 2013 Shanghai International Film Festival on June 15, 2013. In the United States, it premiered on June 8, 2013, at the Seattle International Film Festival, and was released in theaters on June 21, 2013. The theatrical release of the film was accompanied by Pixar's short film titled The Blue Umbrella.
The first teaser trailer for Monsters University was released on June 20, 2012. Four versions of the trailer exist, with Mike muttering different excuses not to go to class in his sleep in each one like "I can't go to class, I'm not wearing any clothes," "My homework ate my dog," "Class President?" and "My pony made the Dean's List." A second trailer was released on February 11, 2013. A third trailer was released on April 26, 2013, and a fourth and final trailer was released on May 30, 2013, with new scenes from the film.
On October 8, 2012, Pixar revealed a fully functional website for Monsters University, complete with admissions, academic and campus life info and a campus store to purchase MU apparel. On April Fools' Day 2013 the website was stylized to look like a rival college, Fear Tech, had hacked the website and vandalized it by changing the colours to orange and black and adding photos of the Fear Tech mascot, Archie, over the top of the existing photos. It was also set so whenever the user would click on the website, the Fear Tech logo, Archie the scare pig or "Fear Tech Rulz" would pop up. In addition, the first TV commercial for the film was aired during the2013 Rose Bowl Game, parodying ads that participating schools air during college football telecasts. From June 27, 2013 and until July 11, Disney's online game Club Penguin hosted a Monsters University Takeover event to promote the film. Players were able to dress up as their favorite monsters, including Mike, Sulley, and others and take part in the Scare Games.
Monsters University has received generally positive reviews from critics. The film holds a 79% approval rating on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 170 reviews with an average rating of 6.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "It doesn't scale the heights of Pixar's finest efforts, but Monsters University is still funny and thoughtful family entertainment for viewers of any age."Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 64 based on 37 reviews.
Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A−, saying "Monsters University is exactly the rebound Pixar needed after 2011's Cars 2 left some wondering if the studio had lost its magic. The delightful story of when Mike met Sulley puts those concerns to rest." Ty Burr of The Boston Globe gave the film two-and-a-half out of four stars, saying "This is not a bad movie, and to small children it will be a very good one, but it’s closer to average than one would wish from the company that gave us Up, WALL-E, The Incredibles, and the Toy Story series." Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger gave the film two-and-a-half out of four stars, saying "The artwork is accomplished, and intricate. The G-rating is genuine, without any gross-out gags. And there's none of the usual winks to the adults with tired, pop-culture references." Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News gave the film three out of five stars, saying "The movie is not up to the company's highest standards, but it's certainly better than most other kid flicks you'll see this year." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two out of four stars, saying "Monsters University, the weirdly charmless sequel to the animated 2001 Pixar hit Monsters, Inc., is no better or worse than the average (and I mean average) time-filling sequel cranked out by other animation houses." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three out of four stars, saying "It's all infectious fun, despite the lack of originality. In the art of tickling funny bones, Crystal and Goodman earn straight A's."
Lou Lumenick of the New York Post gave the film two out of four stars, saying "The under-5 set may find it funny, though I suspect their parents will be checking their watches a lot, as I did." Manohla Dargis of The New York Times gave the film two-and-a-half out of five stars, saying "Both the originality and stirring emotional complexity of Monsters, Inc., with its exquisitely painful and touching parallels with the human world, are missing." Rafer Guzman of Newsday gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Monsters University has an emotional quality that its whimsical predecessor lacked. It has a happy ending, of course, but this movie also feels – in its monstery way – very real." Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film three out of four stars, saying "Monsters University may not be as inventive as Inc., but it's an amusing and amiable addition to Pixar's roster of animated coming-of-age stories." Michael O'Sullivan ofThe Washington Post gave the film three out of four stars, saying "It may be children’s terror that powers the movie’s fictional universe, but it’s the energy of its stars that lights up Monsters University." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a negative review, saying "Monsters University never surprises, goes off in unexpected directions or throws you for a loop in the manner of the best Pixar stories. Nor does it come close to elating through the sheer imagination of its conceits and storytelling; Toy Story 3, three years and three Pixar films back, was the last time that happened. Mike spends his entire university career trying to prove to himself that he's 'something special.' 'But I'm not,' he must finally confess. And neither is the film."
As of July 11, 2013, Monsters University has earned $227,139,427 in North America, and $184,400,000 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $411,539,427. It is currently the 7th highest grossing film of 2013. The film earned $136.9 million on its opening weekend worldwide. For unknown reasons, Disney declined to provide a budget for the film. Entertainment Weekly speculated that it was higher than that of Brave ($185 million), mostly due to high cost of John Goodman and Billy Crystal reprising their roles.Shockya, a subsidiary website of CraveOnline, estimated the budget to be $200 million, on par with Toy Story 3 and Cars 2.
- North America
In the week leading to Monsters University's release, Disney projected an opening weekend gross of at least $70 million. The film topped the box office on its opening day (Friday, June 21, 2013) with $30.5 million, including $2.6 million in 8 p.m. Thursday night shows; this is the fourth largest opening day among animated films. The film then reached first place with an opening weekend gross of $82.4 million, which is the second largest among Pixar films, the second largest among G-rated films, the fourth largest among prequels, and the fifth largest among films released in June. Monsters University held onto the No. 1 spot at the box office during its second weekend, declining 44.7% and grossing $45.6 million. During its third weekend, it faced tough competition fromDespicable Me 2 and dropped 57% with a gross of $19.6 million.
- Outside North America
The film earned $54.5 million on its opening weekend from 35 markets. It set a Disney·Pixar opening-weekend record in Latin America with $31.7 million. In Australia, though, where it had a simultaneous release with Despicable Me 2, Monsters Universitydebuted behind the latter with $3.56 million in third place.