The real places of the Pixar movies
Pixar Studios draw images from all over the world, sometimes from very remote corners and sometimes right on their doorstep… A little trip around the world with this selection.
1. Finding Nemo (2003) – Australia
Abducted by a diver, Nemo ends up in an aquarium. His father, Marin, will join forces with many other species of aquatic fauna, including Dory, a surgeon fish with a failing memory, and Crush, a very old tortoise, to find him. This aquarium is located in a dentist’s office in Sydney, from whose window you can see the famous opera house.
In addition to this Australian city, the adventures of Nemo, Marin and Dory also take them to the Great Barrier Reef. Considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world, this 2,300-kilometre-long formation is home to many underwater species and is visible from space.
The address of the dentist, 42 Wallaby Way, is no coincidence. This address is a tribute to 62 West Wallaby Street which is home to the duo Wallace and Gromit whose Pixar artists are fans. Another homage is paid to these two characters, the seagulls in the film resemble the thieving penguin in an episode of Wallace and Gromit.
Address: Bennelong Point, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
2. Cars (2006) – United States
Flash McQueen is a race car that only dreams of one thing, getting there first. One day, after an accident, he found himself wandering alone on Route 66 to a town called Radiator Springs. He made many friends and learned the importance of friendship in life.
To make this film, Pixar’s artists used the real Route 66 and many of the sites that make it up. The Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari and the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook were used for the Cozy Cone Motel. The location of Radiator Springs corresponds exactly to Peach Springs, Arizona, while Adrian’s MidPoint Cafe in Texas serves as a model for Flo’s. For the record, this film changed the life of the owner at the time, Fran Houser. The clientele was in decline in this small town of 300 inhabitants and the film was able to give a second youth to the establishment. In fact, Flo is largely inspired by Fran, known for her food and hospitality.
Address: Peach Springs, Arizona 86434, USA
3. Ratatouille (2007) – France
A rat who wants to be a cook, a funny idea, but Remy is not just any rat. He believes in his dreams and, despite many obstacles, manages to climb to the top. The little rat will, moreover, go to Chez Gusteau, a fictitious restaurant inspired by the famous Tour d’Argent at 17 Quai de la Tournelle in Paris.
Blinded by his dream, Remy doesn’t want to believe his father’s claim that men are evil. To convince his son, the latter takes him to a rat shop located at 8 rue des Halles in Paris. Installed since 1872, this old pest control sign in the capital has kept its original facade and has funny trophies in its window.
The capital’s sewers are also part of the set, for the Rat House, while the Pont au Double, near Notre-Dame de Paris, is featured several times in the film. While he has to kill Remy there, Alfredo Linguini doesn’t have the heart to do it and frees him. It is thanks to his help that the young clerk then becomes a good cook, with a little help from Rémy. This same bridge will later house the rendezvous between Alfredo and Colette Tatou.
Address : 15-17 quai de la Tournelle, 75005 Paris
4. Up (2009) – Brazil
Carl Fredricksen dreamed of adventure when he was younger. But as the years went by, he didn’t realize his dream and led a life full of bad news. One day, threatened with expulsion, the man dreams of reaching the Falls of Paradise, as he had promised his wife, who died shortly before the realization of their dream. The Paradise Falls are inspired by two other natural monuments, Mount Roraima and Salto Ángel. Divided between Brazil, Guyana and Venezuela, Mount Roraima peaks at 2,810 metres and was only climbed in 1884 by a British scientific expedition. Many species have been discovered there but many are still unknown. A story that inspired a certain Arthur Conan Doyle for his novel, The Lost World. The second monument, Salto Ángel, is the highest waterfall in the world with a height of 979m. Besides Up, these falls appear in Le Jaguar (1996) and Point Break (2015).
Address: Salto Ángel 8011, Bolívar, Venezuela
5. Brave (2012) – Scotland
Medieval Scotland is the setting for the adventures of Merida, an independent young girl who refuses to marry and accidentally turns her mother into a bear. To save her and the kingdom, Merida embarks on a fantastic epic across Scotland.
Many places in this country, regularly frightening the imagination, were used. Merida lives in the kingdom of Dunbroch, in a castle inspired by the Dunnottar castle in Stonehaven. The menhirs of Calanais, on the islands of Lewis and Harris, are a perfect setting for an important historical event and the immense forest of Glen Affric allowed the artists of Pixar to model the landscapes of the Merida horseback riding.
While traveling in Scotland, the film crew took many photos and videos as well as many notes for this feature film. The team members were also able to discover many cultural events such as the Highland Games or the haggis tasting on the Royal Mile to immerse themselves in this culture and write a history as close as possible to reality and customs.
Address: Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven AB39 2TL, United Kingdom
6. Inside Out (2015) – United States
In Inside Out, spectators can see the inside of the Brain District, the centre of emotions, of an 11-year-old girl, Riley. A resident of Minnesota, the girl has to move with her parents to San Francisco for her father’s work.
This time, Pixar’s artists didn’t have to go far for the film’s sets, as the firm’s studios are located in Emeryville, just 14 kilometres from the Golden State’s flagship city.
Among the real places in the film are the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, the legendary serpentine street seen in many films including Bullitt or Ant-Man and the Wasp, and other famous San Francisco landmarks including its stepped streets. Riley trains regularly at the rink, which does not exist. However, it is supposed to be located in the same place as the Walt Disney Family Museum at 104 Montgomery Street.
7. Coco (2017) – Mexico
Miguel, a budding young artist, is crazy about his guitar. But one day, his grandmother destroys it and shatters his dreams. However, he manages to steal Ernesto’s famous guitar, of which he is convinced he is the great-great-grandson, and suddenly finds himself plunged into the Land of the Dead.
To create the incredible design of the Mexican City of the Living and the Land of the Dead, the Pixar artists set their suitcases down in Mexico for several weeks, notably during Día de Muertos, the Day of the Dead. This traditional festival regularly shown on the screen, as in the James Bond Spectre, was a real source of inspiration.
For the Land of the Dead, the film team was inspired by Guanajuato. This former mining town has houses built on hillsides in very different styles and with almost unique colours for each of them. A real spectacle for the eyes.
Ernesto’s tomb looks very much like that of Pedro Infante at the Panteón Jardín in Mexico City, an emblematic figure of Mexico whose features Ernesto also seems to have taken over.
The World of the Living and the World of the Dead are separated by Grand Central Station. This building is, in all likelihood, inspired by the Palacio de Correos in Calle de Tacuba in Mexico City. Built in 1907, the building was heavily damaged in 1985 during the earthquake that shook the capital. Renovated in the 1990s, it is still in operation today for postal services.
Address: 36000 Guanajuato, Mexico
8. Turning Red (2022) – Canada
It is at the SkyDome stadium in Toronto that Mei faces her mother as a gigantic red panda during the boy band 4 Town concert. Formerly known as the SkyDome, the Rogers Centre is a stadium primarily used to host sporting events. In its concert configuration, the stadium can accommodate between 10,000 and 55,000 people. Turning Red is the first Pixar film directed by a solo woman: Domee Shi. For this feature film about puberty, the director has surrounded herself with a female team.Read more
9. Monsters, Inc. (2001) – United States
In 1994, John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Joe Ranft met at the Hidden City Cafe to discuss the post-Toy Story era. During the meal, several ideas for films were born, including A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, Wall-E and Monsters, Inc.
As a nod to this event, Pixar Studios will include the coffee shop in the town of Monstropolis in Pete Docter’s first film. Located a few blocks from the former Pixar studio in Richmond, the Hidden City Cafe will unfortunately close its doors to make way today for Kaleidoscope Coffee.
Address: 109 Park Pl, Richmond, CA 94801, USA
10. Toy Story (1995) – United States
The first film resulting from the contract signed between Disney and Pixar, Toy Story was entirely conceived in these studios located in the San Francisco area. Founded on February 3, 1986, the Pixar studio first produced several short films. This is also where the special effects for films like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Young Sherlock Holmes were developed.
Bought by Disney in 2006 for $7.4 billion, Pixar has produced 26 animated films between 1995 and 2022. Toy Story 1 remains the most profitable of all, although the three sequels were also successful at the box office. Unfortunately, it is impossible to visit Pixar Studios.
Address: 1200 Park Avenue, Emeryville, CA 94608, USA
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Cult! music: 100 mythical music places [French Edition]
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By Damien Canteau
Passionné par l'Histoire, les animés, les Arts et la bande dessinée en particulier, Damien est le rédacteur en chef du site spécialisé dans le 9e art, Comixtrip.