Posted on Monday, April 29th, 2013 by Peter Sciretta
Some Pixar fans have noticed that the set-up of Monsters University is inconsistant with the backstory presented in Monsters Inc.. How could Mike Wazowski and James P. “Sulley” Sullivan have met for the first time in college when there is a line in Monsters Inc about the duo knowing each other in the fourth grade? While I was visiting Pixar a couple weeks back, someone asked Monsters University director Dan Scanlon about this continuity error during a roundtable interview. Find out the story of how and why this happened, after the jump.
The video below gives the gist of the backstory inconsistency problem:
Here is the story of what happened, direct from the mouth of Monsters University director Dan Scanlon:
Well in the first film, uh, they actually say you’ve been jealous of my good looks since fourth grade. And in the teaser they go on and on about fifth grade. So that was something we talked about early on. We chose college because we wanted to see their relationship develop when they were adults and not just still be more or less similar to the characters we remember from the first film. And we also felt like college is so much about self-discovery and figuring out who you are.
It just felt like the perfect place to do this, but we had that line, you know, that line was out there. So we tried versions where they met young and then we kind of skipped ahead to college. And we knew we didn’t want to make Monsters Elementary. We had no interest in that. Honestly it became a thing where you sort of felt like you were missing the relationship grow, because you jumped ahead any way we sliced it.
And it was really Pete Doctor, the original director, and John Lasseter who finally kind of said to me, it’s great that you’re honoring that, but you have to do what’s right for the story. You have to do what’s right for both stories in the long run. And so we made a tough decision to just have them be in college and put that line aside. So the good thing is the only reason that line was in the first film was to just give you the feeling that these guys have known each other a long time and I think that college still does that.
So yeah, now we joke that that’s just an old monster expression, you’ve been jealous of my good looks since the fourth grade. That’s what monsters always say to each other. So, uh, so luckily I feel like when you watch the movies together, the spirit of it still works great.
I think they could’ve just explained it by having a simple line in Monsters University which casually mentions that the first year of college in the Monster world is called “Fourth Grade”. But I guess explaining that might have caused more confusion than its worth, especially for children. It was probably better to do the best thing for this prequel story and just ignore the line altogether.