Pixar’s ‘The Good Dinosaur’ Gets Virtual Preview via Disney Infinity Game (EXCLUSIVE)

The Good Dinosaur, Pixar
Courtesy of Disney

Those who can’t wait for “The Good Dinosaur” — the Thanksgiving weekend offering from Pixar Animation Studios — could get an unusually-early look Nov. 3 with the release of a Disney Infinity toy/video game set based on the film.

Fans will be able to buy a figure of tiny hero Spot with “The Good Dinosaur” power disc pack, which also features caveboy Spot’s newfound pal, Arlo the apatosaurus, along with a trio of T-Rexes — Nash, Butch and Ramsey. The merchandise will be available at major retailers.

The Tuesday release comes more than three weeks in advance of the Nov. 25 premiere of Pixar’s animated film, about a young apatosaurus and the feral human boy he befriends. The unusual move by Disney-Pixar and the company’s interactive game unit is designed to bolster both the film and the gaming franchise.  Infinity offers consumers the chance to both play with figurines and plug them into game consoles to play video games. The Disney game offers traditional video play with designated objectives and a “Toy Box” mode that enables gamers to create their own worlds and mash-up characters from across Disney’s many stories.

One measure of how far the Disney Infinity universe extends is revealed by other Infinity items being put on sale Nov. 3: Hulkbuster, Ultron and Darth Maul figures from the Marvel and Star Wars franchises. Disney Infinity now features toys or “customizations” for more than 150 pieces of intellectual property from the Disney universe –including its in-house animation studio, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Radio Disney, ESPN and more.

“It’s an honor for us to get to do this early release of ‘The Good Dinosaur,’ ” said John Vignocchi, Vice President of Production at Disney Interactive Studios. “And this speaks to our growing relationship with team Pixar — that they trusted us to integrate these great characters and to do it prior to the release of the film.”

The Infinity game set effectively becomes a mini-prequel to “The Good Dinosaur,” celebrating key characters and the look of the film, without giving away any key plot points. “In the past, we always released either in tandem with the film or slightly after the film,” Vignocchi said. “With this release, players can get to know Arlo, Spot, Butch and Ramsey, to know their personalities a little and be really ready for the film when it opens.”

“The Good Dinosaur” electronic figures feature some bigger and better attributes than their predecessors, the video makers say. The most noticeable will be that the “mounts,” which can be ridden by avatars like Spot, will be larger than in previous Infinity games. And the T-Rexes and other mounts from the film will, for the first time, be given speaking voices.  Also, the small but mighty Spot character will be able to walk on all fours, a first in an Infinity ecosystem that has featured only bi-pedal avatars.

Those enhancements required some extra programming sleight of hand from Disney’s partners at Avalanche Software in Salt Lake City. “For most of the mounts, they don’t really make facial expressions, open their mouths or talk,” said Kelly Murphy, a lead game play designer at Avalanche. “So there was a lot of production value that went into making the dinosaurs here feel like  sentient characters, instead of something you just ride.”

Working with the Infinity and Avalanche teams was Kelsey Mann, a story supervisor at Pixar who made sure the game version of “The Good Dinosaur” adhered to the cinematic version.

“With original films like this it’s harder to get awareness out than with sequels,” Mann said. “This is a way to get people knowing and loving these characters that are all new to the audience. Anything that lets the audience spend time is really a benefit and is really exciting to us.”