While Pixar’s Soul grappled with existential questions about what happens before and after death, the studio pivoted to a far simpler story with its latest movie, Luca, the story of a sea monster who can pass as a human boy on the surface and who yearns for freedom. But it didn’t always have such a simple narrative.

I spoke with director Enrico Casarosa and producer Andrea Warren in a recent Zoom interview about earlier iterations of this story, their film’s LGBTQ+ metaphor, how parts of Luca were subconsciously inspired by Fellini’s 8 1/2, working with the folks at Vespa to incorporate that brand into the film, and more.
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Luca initial ending

Like all Pixar movies, Luca went through several significant changes on its path to its final cut – including a wildly different ending that was totally overhauled by the time the completed version was finished. The studio is famous for breaking down its stories over and over again until they shape the story into its ideal form, and for Luca, part of that process involved cutting out an initial ending which involved a kraken. Liam Neeson, eat your heart out. Read More »

movies that inspired Luca

Luca, the latest film from Pixar, is a rollicking, sun-dappled adventure set in a small seaside Italian town. Like The Little Mermaid, the film follows a young sea dweller who discovers what it’s like to live on the surface world and yearns for freedom. The only problem is that small seaside town’s residents hate and fear sea monsters – kind of like how the residents of Berk hate and fear dragons in How to Train Your Dragon. But those earlier animation touchstones are far from the only projects that inspired Luca – director Enrico Casarosa also took inspiration from the films of famed Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini.

I spoke with Casarosa about the Fellini movies that inspired Luca, including 8 1/2 and I Vitelloni.
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Pixar's Luca Clip

It’s a little disappointing that we can’t look forward to a new movie from Pixar Animation on the big screen this summer. But at least Pixar’s latest movie Luca is coming to Disney+ for everyone to experience as no extra charge. If the full trailer for the upcoming aquatic, coming-of-age adventure in the Italian Riviera hasn’t yet convinced you to take a break from returning to the outdoors, maybe this new Luca clip released by Disney and Pixar will do the trick. Read More »

luca enrico casarosa interview

Luca is the closest Pixar has gotten to making a Studio Ghibli film. It’s not particularly in the visuals, though there are plenty of similarities — the characters look like they’d be comfortable strolling through Kiki’s Delivery Service, albeit in a 3D version of it — but in the feeling. There’s a warmth, a wistfulness, and a whimsy to Luca which feels like it draws inspiration from any Hayao Miyazaki film. And, from the 30 minutes of footage that I saw in an early press day for Luca, a deep understanding of human relationships and the delicate moments that define them.

It’s a comparison that I don’t make lightly, but it’s one that’s not off the mark, considering Luca director Enrico Casarosa‘s lifelong love for the works of the anime titan, going so far as to make the Pixar animators on his team watch Miyazaki films and TV shows for reference.

“I’m such a [fan] of Miyazaki,” Casarosa told me in an interview over Zoom during an early press day for Luca ahead of the Pixar film’s Disney+ release. “He’s a hero, you know, and I’ve had a chance to meet him. He’s looming large in my DNA.”

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luca making of

The team behind Luca were facing a unique challenge: water. It wasn’t a matter of making the water in the upcoming Pixar film look realistic and detailed — Pixar animators could probably create photorealistic water in their sleep. It was a matter of making it less realistic.

It’s a strange problem for Pixar to have, right? The animation studio had perfected 3D animation to such a degree that their films have started to look almost too realistic. But it’s a problem Luca director Enrico Casarosa was happy to have.

“The tools of the trade are getting better and better at capturing realism,” Casarosa said at a press presentation /Film attended for Luca earlier this month. “We wanted to work on stylization and beautiful shades and lyricism. So, that is the bit where we pushed the tools to do something a that they don’t necessarily want to do.”

It was a new challenge for Casarosa’s team: to go against their instincts toward realism (and against what Pixar’s programs were designed to do) and pursue the kind of stylization that Casarosa, through his playful watercolor storyboards, was aiming for. So they dedicated themselves to one major direction: capturing “the hand of the artist.”

“The hand of the artist, of course, starts with Enrico’s drawings,” production designer Daniela Stijleva told /Film. “They’re very gestural. they’re very imperfect, in the best possible way. They have life to them.”

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Luca Poster

Under normal circumstances, we’d be excited to see Raya and the Last Dragon in theaters. But since it’s maybe not the best idea to head back to movie theaters right now, we’ll have to settle for catching it on Disney+ Premier Access. However, for those feeling safe enough to head to your local multiplex, you’ll probably be treated to the first trailer for Pixar’s Luca. Thankfully, it will also be debuting online tomorrow. But before that, we have a new poster featuring the fantasy adventure’s title character swimming in the sea near the Italian Riviera. Read More »

luca first look

Some of Pixar’s greatest masterpieces come from simple existential questions: What if toys could talk? What if feelings had feelings? What if pre-born souls could walk this Earth? The animation studio’s next film asks a more niche question: What if The Little Mermaid was given a coming-of-age twist? Luca, the vibrant Italian Rivera-set film helmed by La Luna director Enrico Casarosa, answers that latter question with a film that more or less looks like a family-friendly take on Call Me By Your Name, right down to that Timothée Chalamet-inspired coif that one character wears in the new first-look image. See the Luca first look below.

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Pixar's Luca

Even though Pixar Animation is still sitting on the release of their next film Soul, the animation studio has already announced their next project, and it will arrive next summer.

Pixar’s Luca is a coming-of-age story said to follow as young boy as he and a new friend experience an unforgettable summer filled with gelato, pasta and endless scooter rides. This sounds like Pixar’s version of Call Me By Your Name, though probably with a lot less peach eroticism. Read More »

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Q&A: How Does A Pixar Short Film Get Made?

Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about how Pixar develops and produces their feature animated films, but we’ve learned very little about how the beloved short films get created. So I decided it was time we find out. I shot a message over to Enrico Casarosa, the director of Pixar’s next short film La Luna, who was happy to shed some light on the process.  “How Does A Pixar Short Film Get Made?” Find out, after the jump.
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