How good a year was 2009 for Pixar? “Up” was the fourth-biggest release (with $293 million), one of the best reviewed of the year and it scored five Oscar noms (including picture), winning two: animated feature and original score. And those noms are like the icing on the cake for Pixar head John Lasseter, who says the past year “has been fantastic for us” and who’s long pushed for recognition of animation as an artistic equal to live action. “It is filmmaking, and often it’s relegated to something else, but they’re shown in the same theaters, and on the same screens,” he notes.
William J. Stembler isn’t kidding when he says “exhibition’s in my blood.” The chairman and CEO of Georgia Theater Co. is the third generation of his family to be involved in the biz.
The company’s success comes down to following a “fairly simple formula,” Lasseter says: “First, quality is always the best business plan, so every movie we make has to be really good, and we focus so strongly on story and making it the most important thing. And that was true of ‘Up.’ We spent a long time working on the story, to get it to be the very best it could be.”
Pixar has also been able to continually refine its creative and technical pipeline “because it’s a filmmaker-led studio,” he says, “with the directors and producers working together as a team.”