Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Dan Scanlon|
|Produced by||Kori Rae|
|Music by||Randy Newman|
|Edited by||Greg Snyder|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios
|Running time||104 minutes|
|Box office||$743.6 million|
Monsters University is a 2013 American 3D computer-animated comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It was directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae, with John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich as executive producers. It is the fourteenth feature film produced by Pixar and is a prequel to 2001's Monsters, Inc., marking the first time Pixar has made a prequel film.
Disney, as the rights holder, had plans for a second Monsters, Inc. film since 2005. Following disagreements with Pixar, Disney tasked its Circle 7 Animation unit to make the sequel. An early draft of the film was developed; however, Disney's purchase of Pixar in early 2006 led to the cancellation of Circle 7's version of the film. A Pixar-made sequel was confirmed in 2010, and in 2011, it was confirmed that the film would instead be a prequel titled Monsters University.
Monsters University tells the story of two monsters, Mike and Sulley, and their time studying at college, where they start off as rivals, but slowly become best friends. Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Bob Peterson, and John Ratzenberger reprise their roles as Mike Wazowski, James P. Sullivan, Randall Boggs, Roz, and the Abominable Snowman, respectively. Bonnie Hunt, who played Ms. Flint in the first film, voices Mike's grade school teacher Ms. Karen Graves. The music for the film is composed by Randy Newman, marking his seventh collaboration with Pixar.
Monsters University premiered on June 5, 2013, at the BFI Southbank in London, United Kingdom and was released on June 21, 2013, in the United States. It was accompanied in theaters by a short film, The Blue Umbrella, directed by Saschka Unseld. The film received positive reviews and was a box office success, grossing $743 million against its estimated budget of $200 million.
A young monster named Michael "Mike" Wazowski dreams of being a scarer (a monster who enters the human world at night to scare children so their screams can be harvested for energy) when he grows up, after visiting Monsters Inc.—Monstropolis' most profitable and best-known scaring company—on a school field trip. Eleven years later, Mike is a first-year scare major at Monsters University, where he meets a large, blue, furry monster named James P. "Sulley" Sullivan.
Mike studies hard while the privileged Sulley – who comes from a family of talented scarers – lazily relies only on his natural ability and begins to falter. As the semester progresses, Mike and Sulley attempt to join a fraternity, but only Sulley gets into the prestigious Roar Omega Roar. At the semester's final exam, after they accidentally break open her cherished Scream Container, Dean Abigail Hardscrabble fails them both and drops them from the program, stating that Sulley does not study enough – prompting Roar Omega Roar to kick him out – and Mike is simply not scary enough. Mike decides to prove himself by entering the Scare Games, making a wager with the skeptical Hardscrabble where she agrees to readmit the whole team to the scare program if they win, but Mike must leave the school if they lose. He joins Oozma Kappa – the only fraternity that is available to him – to compete, but they are denied entry as they are one team member short. Seeing the competition as his ticket back into the scare program, Sulley volunteers and Mike reluctantly accepts.
Oozma Kappa finishes last in the first challenge, meaning they will be eliminated, but miraculously advances when another team is disqualified for violating the rules. Oozma Kappa advances through subsequent challenges, improving gradually thanks to Mike's training. The team is invited to a Roar Omega Roar party but are discouraged when the other competitors humiliate them. To lift their spirits, Mike arranges a secret visit to Monsters, Inc., but Sulley still doubts that Mike can be a true scarer. In the final round, they pull off a close victory cemented by a final decisive scare by Mike in the simulation bedroom: afterwards, Mike discovers that he only won because Sulley cheated, rigging the machine to give him a top score before he went in. Determined to prove he can become a scarer, Mike breaks into the school's door lab and enters a door to the human world, but the door leads to a summer camp, and he is unable to scare a cabin full of children.
Back at the university, Roar Omega Roar offers to reinstate Sulley, but he refuses, instead confessing to Hardscrabble that he cheated, just as she is alerted of Mike's break-in. Realizing what happened, Sulley enters the same door to look for Mike, defying Hardscrabble's objections. After finding Mike and reconciling, they try to return, but are trapped in the human world - the door they used was deactivated on Hardscrabble's orders until the authorities arrive – and are now being pursued by camp rangers. Mike realizes that the only way to get back to the monster world is to generate enough scream energy to power the door from their side. Working together, Sulley and Mike terrify the camp rangers, generating an overwhelming amount of scream energy and allowing them to return to the lab, where they are led away by the CDA.
Their actions lead to their expulsion from the university, but the other members of Oozma Kappa are accepted into the scare program the next semester, as Hardscrabble was impressed with their performance in the games. As Mike leaves on the bus, Sulley runs after him to encourage him. Hardscrabble then appears and tells them they are the first to have surprised her, and wishes them luck. The duo begin work at Monsters, Inc. in the company mailroom under the mailroom manager, the Abominable Snowman. Working their way up through the company, they eventually become part of the Scarer Team, thus setting the events of Monsters, Inc. in motion.
|Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and Steve Buscemi (top) reprise
their roles from Monsters, Inc. while Helen Mirren, Nathan
Fillion, and Alfred Molina (bottom) play new characters.
- Billy Crystal as Michael "Mike" Wazowski
- John Goodman as James P. "Sulley" Sullivan
- Steve Buscemi as Randall "Randy" Boggs
- Helen Mirren as Dean Abigail Hardscrabble, the chair of the Scarer program at Monsters University
- Peter Sohn as Scott "Squishy" Squibbles, an Oozma Kappa fraternity member
- Joel Murray as Don Carlton, a middle-aged returning student and the founding member of Oozma Kappa fraternity
- Sean Hayes as Terri Perry, an Oozma Kappa fraternity member who shares his brother's body.
- Dave Foley as Terry Perry, an Oozma Kappa fraternity member
- Charlie Day as Art, an Oozma Kappa fraternity member
- Alfred Molina as Professor Derek Knight
- Tyler Labine as Brock Pearson, Greek Council vice-president
- Nathan Fillion as Johnny J. Worthington III, president of Roar Omega Roar
- Aubrey Plaza as Claire Wheeler, Greek Council president
- Bobby Moynihan as Chet Alexander, a Roar Omega Roar fraternity member
- Noah Johnston as Young Mike
- Julia Sweeney as Sherri Squibbles, Scott's mother
- Bonnie Hunt as Ms. Karen Graves, Mike's grade school teacher
- John Krasinski as "Frightening" Frank McCay
- Bill Hader as Referee, Slug
- Beth Behrs as Carrie Williams, leader of Python Nu Kappa sorority
- Bob Peterson as Roz
- John Ratzenberger as The Yeti, a Monsters, Inc. mailroom employee
Plans for a second Monsters, Inc. film existed since 2005. Following disagreements between Disney CEO Michael Eisner and Pixar CEO Steve Jobs, Disney – which owned the rights to make sequels to all of Pixar's films up to Cars – announced that a sequel to Monsters, Inc. would be made by Circle 7 Animation, which was also working on an early draft of Toy Story 3. Titled Monsters, Inc. 2: Lost in Scaradise, the film would have focused on Mike and Sulley visiting the human world to give Boo a birthday present, only to find that she had moved. After getting trapped in the human world, Mike and Sulley split up after disagreeing on what to do. Screenwriters Rob Muir and Bob Hilgenberg were hired to write a script for the film, and storyboarded an early draft of it. Disney's change of management in late 2005 – in which Eisner was replaced by Robert Iger – led to renewed negotiations with Pixar, and in early 2006 Disney announced it had purchased the studio. The Disney-owned sequel rights were then transferred to Pixar, leading to the cancellation of Muir and Hilgenberg's version of the film and the subsequent closure of Circle 7.
A Pixar-made sequel was confirmed in 2010. The film was originally planned for release on November 16, 2012, but the release was preponed to November 2, 2012 to avoid competition with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2. On March 29, 2011, it was confirmed that the film would be a prequel and the title Monsters University was announced. On April 5, 2011 it was announced that the film, the studio's fourteenth full-length feature, would be released on June 21, 2013.
The feature was directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae. Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Bob Peterson, and John Ratzenberger reprised their roles, and Bonnie Hunt voiced a new character. New voice cast included Dave Foley, Sean Hayes, Julia Sweeney, Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Peter Sohn, Charlie Day, Joel Murray, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza, Tyler Labine, John Kransinski, Bill Hader, Bobby Moynihan, and Beth Behrs. On August 12, 2011, Billy Crystal was asked about his return to the role of Mike Wazowski; he said, "I'm a little hoarse. I spent five-and-a-half hours today for our fourth session on Monsters, Inc. 2."
The plot of Monsters University details Mike and Sulley's first meeting, but this created a continuity error from the first film in which Mike tells Sulley that he has been jealous of his looks since the fourth grade. Director Dan Scanlon said he had a dilemma with this line during pre-production, but he believed it was best if Mike and Sulley meet in college because, "we wanted to see their relationship develop when they were adults. And we also felt like college is so much about self-discovery and figuring out who you are." He added, "It felt like the perfect place to do this, but we had that line. So we tried versions where they met young and then we skipped ahead to college. And we knew we didn't want to make Monsters Elementary." Scanlon said during pre-production that, "Pete Docter, the original director, and John Lasseter ... finally said to me, 'it's great that you're honouring that, but you have to do what's right for the story.' So we made a tough decision to just have them be in college and put that line aside." Scanlon later retconned the line from the first film as "an old monster expression", saying "That's what monsters always say to each other."
Monsters University is the first Pixar film that used global illumination, a new lighting system introduced as part of the overhaul of the rendering system used since the first Toy Story film. In the planning stage of the film, director of photography, Jean-Claude Kalache, asked "What if we made these lights just work?" Before the new system, artists had to build reflections and shadows manually, which became increasingly complex as the models and the setups became more technologically advanced. The new lighting system uses ray tracing, a technique that imitates the behaviour of the light in the real world; this automatized the process, delivered more realism, produced soft shadows, and let the artist spend more time on models and complex scenes – some of which contained thousands of light sources.
For research, the filmmakers visited several colleges in the U.S., including Harvard University, Stanford University, and the University of Alabama, observing college architecture, student life, Greek organizations, and the teaching methods of professors and faculty. To research fraternity life, which is central to the film, many of the film's producers spent several weeks at a fraternity house.
|Soundtrack album by Randy Newman|
|Released||June 18, 2013|
|Pixar film soundtrack chronology|
|Randy Newman chronology|
The songs "Main Title", "Rise and Shine", and "The Scare Games" feature the drum line from the Blue Devils group "BD Entertainment". The recordings for the percussion tracks were done at Skywalker Ranch, and were written by Blue Devils Percussion Caption Head Scott Johnson.
The songs "Island" by Mastodon and "Gospel" by MarchFourth Marching Band are featured during the film but do not appear on the soundtrack. The songs "Party Hard" by Andrew W.K. and "Kickstart My Heart" by Mötley Crüe are featured prominently in the teaser trailers but do not appear on the soundtrack or in the film.
- Track listing
All music composed by Randy Newman, except where noted.
|3.||"First Day at MU"||4:32|
|9.||"Stinging Glow Urchin"||2:34|
|11.||"Rise and Shine"||3:00|
|13.||"Roar" (written and performed by Axwell & Sebastian Ingrosso)||2:55|
|14.||"The Scare Games"||6:00|
|15.||"Did You Do This?"||2:00|
|17.||"The Big Scare"||3:02|
|19.||"Mike and Sulley"||1:12|
The first teaser trailer for Monsters University was released on June 20, 2012. Four versions of the trailer exist; in his sleep, Mike mutters excuses to avoid attending class in each one, such as "I'm not wearing any clothes," "My homework ate my dog," "Class President?", and "My pony made the Dean's List." A second trailer was released on February 11, 2013, a third on April 26, 2013, and a fourth and final trailer, which included scenes from the film, was released on May 30, 2013.
On October 8, 2012, Pixar revealed a fully functional website for Monsters University, complete with information about admissions, academic and campus life, and a campus store to purchase MU apparel. On April 1, 2013, the website was styled to appear as though a rival college, Fear Tech, had hacked and vandalized it. The first television commercial for the film was aired during the 2013 Rose Bowl Game, parodying advertisements for participating schools that are shown during college football telecasts. From June 27 until July 11, 2013, Disney's online game Club Penguin hosted a Monsters University Takeover event to promote the film. Players could dress up as their favorite monsters and take part in the Scare Games.
The film had its worldwide premiere on June 5, 2013, as a special screening at BFI Southbank in London with the director and producer in attendance. The film had its Asian premiere as the opening film of the 2013 Shanghai International Film Festival on June 15, 2013. It premiered in the United States on June 8, 2013, at the Seattle International Film Festival, and was released in theaters on June 21, 2013. The film's theatrical release was accompanied by Pixar's short film titled The Blue Umbrella.
Monsters University was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, DVD, digital copy, and on demand on October 29, 2013. It was accompanied by The Blue Umbrella, Pixar's short film which played alongside the film in theaters.
Monsters University has received positive reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 79% based on 182 reviews with an average rating of 6.8/10. The site's critical consensus is, the film "doesn't scale the heights of Pixar's finest efforts, but Monsters University is still funny and thoughtful family entertainment for viewers of any age." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 65 based on 41 reviews. Audiences polled by Cinemascore gave the film a grade A. According to Disney, audiences were 56 percent female and 60 percent below the age of 25. Families made up 73 percent of business, and teens accounted for a solid 15 percent. The film played well with all ages.
Matt Zoller Seitz of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four stars out of four, saying it "is true to the spirit of [Monsters Inc.] and matches its tone. But it never seems content to turn over old ground." Trevor Johnston of Time Out gave the film four stars out of five, writing, "It has enough of the right stuff to haunt the imagination long after the immediate buzz of its fluffy-furred cuteness has melted away. For a mere prequel, that's a result." Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film three stars out of four, and said it "is cute, and funny, and the animation, though not exactly inspired, is certainly colorful." Jake Coyle of the Associated Press gave the film three stars out of four, saying it "might not be as gifted as some of its other movies, but sometimes it's alright to be OK." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three stars out of four, and said, "It's all infectious fun, despite the lack of originality. In the art of tickling funny bones, Crystal and Goodman earn straight A's." Richard Corliss of Time gave the film a positive review, saying, "This minor film with major charms still deserves to have kids dragging their parents to the multiplex for one more peek at the monsters in the closet. With Pixar, familiarity breeds content." Bill Goodykoontz of The Arizona Republic gave the film three and a half stars out of five and said it is "one of those movies that has absolutely no reason to exist, but once you've seen it, you're kind of glad it does." Alan Scherstuhl of The Village Voice gave the film a positive review, saying, "Monsters University feels not like the work of artists eager to express something but like that of likable pros whose existence depends on getting a rise out the kids. It's like the scares Sully and Mike spring on those sleeping tykes: technically impressive but a job un-anchored to anything more meaningful."
Leonard Maltin of IndieWire praised the animation and art direction, but wrote that he wished "the movie was funnier and wasn't so plot-heavy" and that "Pixar has raised the bar for animated features so high that when they turn out a film that’s merely good, instead of great, they have only themselves to blame for causing critics to damn them with faint praise." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two stars out of four, saying, "Monsters University, the weirdly charmless sequel to the animated 2001 Pixar hit Monsters, Inc., is no better or worse than the average (and I mean average) time-filling sequel cranked out by other animation houses." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a negative review, saying that it "never surprises, goes off in unexpected directions or throws you for a loop in the manner of the best Pixar stories. Nor does it come close to elating through the sheer imagination of its conceits and storytelling." Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film three stars out of four, and said it "may not be as inventive as Inc., but it's an amusing and amiable addition to Pixar's roster of animated coming-of-age stories." Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post gave the film three stars out of four, saying, "It may be children’s terror that powers the movie’s fictional universe, but it’s the energy of its stars that lights up Monsters University." Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A−, and said it "is exactly the rebound Pixar needed after 2011's Cars 2 left some wondering if the studio had lost its magic. The delightful story of when Mike met Sulley puts those concerns to rest." James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film three stars out of four, and wrote, "Although it falls short of the best Pixar has brought to the screen over its long association with Disney, it's nevertheless worth a trip to the theater, especially for kids."
However, the film was not without its detractors. Richard Roeper gave the film two and a half stars out of five, saying "This is a safe, predictable, edge-free, nearly bland effort from a studio that rarely hedges its bets." Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four, and said, "The artwork is accomplished, and intricate. The G-rating is genuine, without any gross-out gags. And there's none of the usual winks to the adults with tired, pop-culture references." Manohla Dargis of The New York Times gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of five and wrote, "Both the originality and stirring emotional complexity of Monsters, Inc., with its exquisitely painful and touching parallels with the human world, are missing." Ty Burr of The Boston Globe gave the film two- and-a-half stars out of four, and said, "This is not a bad movie, and to small children it will be a very good one, but it’s closer to average than one would wish from the company that gave us Up, WALL-E, The Incredibles, and the Toy Story series." Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald gave the film two stars out of five, and wrote that it "feels half-hearted and lazy, like they weren't even trying. At least show a little effort, guys."
Monsters University earned $268,492,764 in North America and $475,066,843 elsewhere, summing up to a worldwide total of $743,559,607. It is the fifty-sixth highest-grossing film, the seventh highest-grossing 2013 film, the third highest-grossing Pixar film, and the twelfth highest-grossing animated film. The film earned $136.9 million worldwide on its opening weekend. Disney declined to provide a budget for the film; Entertainment Weekly speculated that it was higher than that of Brave ($185 million), mainly because of the high cost of John Goodman and Billy Crystal reprising their roles. Shockya and EOnline reported the budget to be $200 million—on par with previous Pixar films.
In the week leading to Monsters University's release, Disney projected an opening weekend gross of at least $70 million. The film opened on Friday, June 21, 2013 in first place with $30.47 million –including $2.6 million in 20:00 Thursday night shows– marking the fifth largest opening day among animated films. The film then reached first place with an opening-weekend gross of $82.43 million; the second largest among Pixar films, the second largest among G-rated films, the fourth largest among prequels, the fifth largest among animated films, and the fifth largest among films released in June. Monsters University remained at first place on its second weekend, declining 45% to $45.6 million. Facing tough competition from Despicable Me 2 on its third weekend, it dropped 57% to $19.7 million. As of December 2013, it is the tenth highest-grossing animated film.
Outside North America
The film earned $54.5 million in 35 markets on its opening weekend. It set a Disney·Pixar opening-weekend record in Latin America with revenues of $31.7 million. In Argentina, the film set an opening weekend record among all films with $5.49 million. In Australia, where it had a simultaneous release with Despicable Me 2, Monsters University debuted behind the latter with $3.56 million in third place. In Hong Kong, the film set opening-day (HK$5.03 million), single-day (HK$7.93 million) and opening-weekend (HK$25.79 million) records among animated films, beating the previous record holder, Toy Story 3. In the UK, the film topped the box office during its opening weekend with a gross of GB£3.46 million. The film's largest opening occurred in China, where its $13 million debut ranked fourth among Disney films. The film's highest-grossing markets are Japan ($90.1 million), the UK, Ireland, and Malta ($47.2 million), and Mexico ($37.6 million).
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipients and nominees||Result|
|American Cinema Editors||February 7, 2014||Best Edited Animated Feature Film||Greg Snyder||Nominated|
|Annie Awards||February 1, 2014||Best Animated Feature|
|Animated Effects in an Animated Production|
|Character Animation in an Animated Feature Production||John Chun Chiu Lee|
|Character Design in an Animated Feature Production||Chris Sasaki|
|Music in an Animated Feature Production||Randy Newman|
|Production Design in an Animated Feature Production||Ricky Nierva, Robert Kondo, Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi|
|Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production||Billy Crystal (Mike Wazowski)|
|Writing in an Animated Feature Production||Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird, Dan Scanlon|
|Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production||Dean Kelly||Won|
|Editorial in an Animated Feature Production||Greg Snyder, Gregory Amundson, Steve Bloom|
|British Academy Film Awards||February 16, 2014||Best Animated Film||Dan Scanlon||Nominated|
|Cinema Audio Society Awards||February 22, 2014||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Motion Pictures – Animated||Doc Kane, Michael Semanick, Gary Summers, David Boucher, Corey Tyler|
|Critics' Choice Movie Award||January 16, 2014||Best Animated Feature|
|Denver Film Critics Society||January 13, 2014||Best Animated Feature Film|
|Hollywood Film Awards||October 21, 2013||Hollywood Animation Award||Won|
|International Cinephile Society||February 23, 2014||Best Animated Film||Nominated|
|Kids' Choice Awards||March 29, 2014||Favorite Animated Movie|
|Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie||Billy Crystal|
|Producers Guild of America Award||January 19, 2014||Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures||Kori Rae|
|San Francisco Film Critics Circle||December 15, 2013||Best Animated Feature|
|Satellite Awards||February 23, 2014||Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media|
|Saturn Award||June 2014||Best Animated Film|
|Visual Effects Society Awards||February 12, 2014||Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture||Kori Rae, Sanjay Bakshi, Jon Reisch, Scott Clark|
|Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture||Robert Kondo, Eric Andraos, Dale Ruffolo, Peter Sumanaseni (Campus)|
|Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association||December 9, 2013||Best Animated Feature|
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- Official website
- Monsters University at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Monsters University at Box Office Mojo
- Monsters University at the Internet Movie Database
- Monsters University at the TCM Movie Database
- Official University website