More than three years ago on April 24, 2012, Lee Unkrich was gearing up to finally be able to chat about his upcoming project based on the holiday, Dia de los Muertos. The announcement was made at the 2012 CinemaCon and Lee tweeted to his followers that he was “so excited to finally reveal my next movie at Pixar”.
Shortly thereafter, the LA Times posted an interview with Lee (May 22, 2012) where he discussed the initial idea of his upcoming film. In fact, the article also mentions that he was a week away from pitching the main story idea to Pixar’s “Brain Trust” (a collection of senior employees who offer insights and thoughts on new and in-progress films). Pixar’s famous research trips had already begun for Lee as well and the article mentions that he had already been frequenting Mexico to get more details.
On December 31, 2012, ComingSoon posted concept artwork for a slate of Pixar’s upcoming films and included the image below. No additional details regarding the film were revealed at that time.
After the initial news in 2012 though, we didn’t hear any news of the project again until February 2015 when Randy Newman mentioned the rumor that the film may be Pixar’s first musical (audio sample embedded below). The three-year drought of information led some people to believe that this film would go the way of Newt and eventually be removed from Pixar’s lineup. Luckily though, Randy’s comment revived people’s hopes of the film for the time being.
On August 3, 2015, we spotted a mention on IMDb that the composer John Debney was working on an unannounced 2017 project for Pixar. Obviously, we took that with a grain of salt, but nonetheless, anything that had the potential of being tied to the project excited us.
Coco is the celebration of a lifetime, where the discovery of a generations-old mystery leads to a most extraordinary and surprising family reunion.
Finally, the big news came during the 2015 D23 Expo (August 14) when John Lasseter invited Unkrich and Darla Anderson (Producer) to the stage and announced the official title for the project would be Coco and it would in fact be releasing in the fall of 2017 (Updated – November 22, 2017). The presentation also shed some more light on the story and background (from Disney Insider),
The main character in the film is a spirited 12-year-old boy named Miguel, who somehow finds himself in the fantastical realm of the dead. After the brief explanation, Unkrich and Anderson treated the D23 attendees with a “diorama,” meant to express the general feeling of Coco (even though the designs might change dramatically before the movie is done). This “diorama” was incredible and visualized as a single shot moving through the mortal version of Dia de los Muertos, with people celebrating and lighting candles for the family members who have passed on, and moving into the uproarious landscape of the dead. This is where things really take off, with skeleton mariachi bands, colorful designs, and lots and lots of fun.
“I’d seen it portrayed in folk art. It was something about the juxtaposition of skeletons with bright, festive colors that captured my imagination,” Unkrich explained. But then, like most Disney•Pixar films, it took an unexpected turn. “It has led me down a winding path of discovery. And the more I learn about Dia De Los Muertos, the more it affects me deeply.” In the process of making the movie, he began to think about his relatives, including the ones who had passed away before he was able to get to know them. “I thought – what if I could meet them, what would I ask them?”
The brief clip was shown during the presentation (as described by Slashfilm)
A character lights a candle in a cemetery, as fireworks go off in the sky. An old woman drops flower pedals as she limps toward a colorfully decorated grave.
Cut to colorfully dressed skeletons dancing and playing music in a long, store-lined alley way. The skeletons detach their heads and legs during the course of the dance.
A mariachi band is playing. A boy drops his skull mask and the music stops for a second. Then the music resumes, and as fireworks go off, we see an aerial view revealing that the block is shaped like a skull.
UPDATED – April 14 – Lee Unkrich has begun introducing team members working on the film on Twitter – check out the updated post along with mentions of co-director, Adrian Molina, Danielle Feinberg (Lighting), and more.
UPDATED – July 14 – Benjamin Bratt noted that he would be voicing a character in the film.
UPDATED – August 1 – some Coco team members updated a photo of a crew shirt and potentially revealed an updated logo.
UPDATED – October 17 – Lee Unkrich held an impromptu Twitter Q&A session and answered many questions about the film.
UPDATED – November 30 – An updated Coco teaser poster was released, the official logo was confirmed and additional details surrounding the music composition was revealed.
UPDATED – December 6 – Wonderful concept artwork of Miguel and his Abuelita (Granny) was released, along with additional details surrounding the vocal cast, an expanded plot, and more details surrounding the details of the film.
What are your thoughts regarding Coco, leave a comment below or chat about it with other fans in the Coco: First Impressions Forum discussion.