To Pixar and Beyond by Lawrence Levy isn’t just another Pixar history book. The 251-page book is Levy’s view as the company’s first Chief Financial Officer (1994-2006), his partnership with Steve Jobs as well as his own personal journey after his tenure with Pixar.
The bulk of the book delves into Lawrence’s impact on the business and how each step forward presented a new challenge that he and the team had to unlock to get Pixar to a place of profitability.
The book’s prologue summarizes the book incredibly well when it says,
This is the story of how the little company that made the world fall in love with toys, bugs, fish, monsters, cars, superheroes, chefs, robots and emotions emerged from forces at work beneath it. It is about the choices and the absurd bets and risks that made it possible. It is about the tension between creative integrity and real-world necessities, and how that tension shaped those involved with it.
For Pixar fans, you can expect to read fantastic insights into the studio’s past, but the book also includes many insights and direct feedback we haven’t read in any other Pixar books to date.
For example, we were riveted reading additional details regarding the original Disney contract with Pixar. Some of the items, like the difficult relationship between Steve Jobs and Michael Eisner, have been well documented previously, but we haven’t read such direct insights into the stronghold that Disney had on Pixar due to their restrictive contract.
In all fairness to Disney, and as Levy soon found out when talking with industry experts, this seemed to be a common contract for new players to the market. But Levy, Jobs, John Lasseter, Ed Catmull, and the team also realized that this contract was too restrictive on Pixar’s growth if they were to become an independent, thriving company — so the team formulated 4 pillars for their growth strategy.
- Increase Pixar’s share of the profits from their films.
- Pixar had to pay the largest portion of the production costs.
- Increase the frequency with which Pixar released films.
- Build Pixar into a worldwide brand.
Once the strategy was in place, the book tackles the steps needed to stand up each pillar and achieve success in that area. The first pillar was about re-negotiating the original Disney distribution deal, the second was achieved through Pixar’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) when becoming a public company, and the third was about staffing.
One particular topic which captivated us was tied to pillar number four. Pixar needed to build a brand, but under the original deal, Disney wouldn’t have to display Pixar’s name in a meaningful way on advertisements or products.
The biggest example of the benefits of the renegotiation is the comparison between the Toy Story and A Bug’s Life movie posters where you can see how Toy Story was titled, “Walt Disney Pictures Presents”, while A Bug’s Life, under the renegotiated contract, now had to display Disney and Pixar as “perceptually equal” near the film’s logo.
As mentioned above, another area that couldn’t have been told by anyone else and held as much validity (since Levy was the CFO) was the topic of taking the company public. There are amazing insights into the IPO process — such as the process of how an initial date was chosen, how Pixar ended up working with non-Hollywood investment banks, how they utilized the IPO roadshow to drum up interest in the investment, and how the initial stock price was selected.
In addition to the great Pixar and financial details, this book also has some very thought-provoking business and personal insights (including Lawrence’s interest in the Buddhist philosophy of the Middle Way) along with a very clear view of Pixar’s first CEO, Steve Jobs.
Lawrence and Steve worked very closely after Steve hand-picked Lawrence to come to Pixar. This book may lay out the most complete look at Steve’s involvement with Pixar specifically and showcases not only key negotiations but also small details among the team.
As we sat and discussed how we were going to summarize the book for our review, we realized that it wasn’t going to be easy. Not because it wasn’t a fantastic book, but because there were so many great topics we wanted to summarize.
One final thought we wanted to include was one of Lawrence’s most personal projects that he wanted to achieve. He wanted to find a way to include staff who was not “strictly speaking on the film crew” included in the film’s credits — so without Levy’s passion for supporting the entire studio, we may not have a view at the famed “Production babies”, the Public Relations team or so many others who helped shape the studio into what is it today.
Note: Pixar Post may receive a commission for items purchased through affiliate links in this article — we thank you for your support.
All we can say is that the book is highly recommended for Pixar fans, people interested in financial insights, business details, or the entertainment industry in general — it is a well-rounded book that you’ll find yourself reading very quickly.
Click here to purchase To Pixar and Beyond on Amazon (sold in hardcover, paperback, Kindle ebook, and audiobook formats).
If you’ve read To Pixar and Beyond, let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post.
We’re also ecstatic to offer an opportunity to FIVE of our readers to receive a signed copy of the book. Read the full details below on how you can enter below.
HOW TO ENTER TO RECEIVE A SIGNED COPY
UPDATED: – The winners have all claimed their books and several of them have already received their copies in the mail! Congratulations to Mike W, David Z, Emily H, Therese B, and Jazmine K.
First, read all the fine print listed below in order to have your chance to win one of five signed copies of To Pixar and Beyond.
To enter, you must be at least 18 years of age and live in the 48 contiguous United States. The item, including shipping, is completely free and there is no purchase necessary to enter (the book will be sent to you directly from the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
For our readers who are under 18 years of age, you may have a parent enter, but you may not enter the contest on their behalf.
How many times can you enter? Only one entry per person/user/address. Entrants that do not meet the giveaway qualifications will be eliminated and another user will randomly be chosen.
The giveaway will remain open from January 1, 2017, through January 7, 2017, at 11:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. FIVE random winners will be chosen once the contest is closed and will be contacted by us utilizing the email address you entered with (your reply will be required to obtain the book). Once the winners claim the prize, it will also be announced in this original post (by their first name and last initial).
Complete the steps below.
- Complete the form embedded below – UPDATED: The form link has been removed since all books have been claimed.
- Share that you entered the giveaway on one of your social media channels. For example, you could copy and paste this text –
I love Pixar! I just entered to win a signed copy of the #ToPixarAndBeyond book via Pixar Post – Enter here – https://www.pixarpost.com/2017/01/to-pixar-and-beyond-book-review.html
- Although it’s not required to enter, we’d love if you’d follow us (if you don’t already) on our social media channels — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Pinterest.