Inside Out (2015 film)

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Inside Out
Inside Out (2015 film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Pete Docter
Produced by Jonas Rivera
Screenplay by
Story by
Music by Michael Giacchino[1]
Edited by Kevin Nolting[2]
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release dates
  • May 18, 2015 (2015-05-18) (Cannes)
  • June 19, 2015 (2015-06-19) (United States)
Running time
94 minutes[3]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $175 million[4]
Box office $792.3 million[5]

Inside Out is a 2015 American 3D computer-animated comedy-drama adventure film[6] produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed and co-written by Pete Docter, the film is set in the mind of a young girl, Riley Andersen (Kaitlyn Dias), where five personified emotions—Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling)—try to lead her through life as she moves with her parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) to a new city. The film was co-directed and co-written by Ronnie del Carmen and produced by Jonas Rivera, with music composed by Michael Giacchino.

Docter first began developing Inside Out in 2009 after noticing changes in his daughter's personality as she grew older. The film's producers consulted numerous psychologists, including Dacher Keltner[7] from the University of California, Berkeley, who helped revise the story emphasizing the neuropsychological findings that human emotions are mirrored in interpersonal relationships and can be significantly moderated by them.

After premiering at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in May, Inside Out was released on June 19, 2015, accompanied in theaters by a short film, Lava, directed by James Ford Murphy. Critics praised the vocal performances (particularly for Poehler, Smith, and Richard Kind), its concept, and poignant subject matter. The film grossed $90.4 million in its first weekend—the highest opening for an original title. It has grossed over $792 million worldwide against a budget of $175 million.[5]


A girl named Riley is born in Minnesota, and within her mind, five personifications of her core emotions—Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger—come to life. The emotions live in Headquarters, Riley's conscious mind, where they influence Riley's actions and memories via a control console. Her new memories are housed in colored orbs, which are sent into storage at the end of every waking period. The most important or "core" memories are housed in a hub in Headquarters and power five "islands", each of which reflects a different aspect of Riley's personality. Joy acts as the dominant emotion to keep Riley in a happy state, but she and the others do not understand Sadness's purpose.

When Riley is 11 years old, her family relocates to San Francisco after her father gets a new job. However, their new home is lifeless, and their belongings are still in a moving truck that ends up getting lost somewhere in Texas. Joy becomes concerned when Sadness begins touching happy memories, causing them to turn sad, so she tries to keep Sadness isolated. However, on Riley's first day at her new school, Sadness accidentally causes Riley to cry in front of her class, creating a sad core memory. Joy attempts to dispose of the new core memory before it reaches the central hub, but she accidentally knocks the other core memories loose in her struggle with Sadness, shutting down the personality islands and making them unstable. Before Joy can put them back, she, Sadness, and the core memories are sucked out of Headquarters through the memory tube leading to the rest of Riley's mind. They end up in the labyrinthine storage area of Riley's long-term memories and set out to return to Headquarters.

Anger, Disgust, and Fear attempt to maintain Riley's emotional state in Joy's absence, but inadvertently distance Riley from her parents, friends, and hobbies, resulting in her personality islands slowly crumbling and falling into the Memory Dump, an abyss where faded memories are disposed and forgotten. Anger inserts an idea to run away to Minnesota into the control console, believing they can produce new happy core memories there. Meanwhile, Joy and Sadness find Bing Bong, Riley's childhood imaginary friend, who is desperate to reconnect with her. He tells them they can get to Headquarters by riding the train of thought. After exploring different areas of Riley's mind, the three eventually catch the train, but it derails when another personality island falls.

As Riley prepares to board a bus bound for Minnesota, Joy attempts to use a "recall tube" to return to Headquarters, but the last personality island falls and breaks the tube, sending Joy into the Memory Dump along with Bing Bong. While despairingly looking through old memories, Joy discovers a sad memory in Riley's life that becomes happy when her parents and friends come to comfort her over losing a hockey game, causing her to realize Sadness's true importance: alerting others when Riley needs help.

Joy and Bing Bong try to use Bing Bong's discarded wagon rocket to get out of the Memory Dump, but after several failed attempts, Bing Bong realizes their combined weight is too much and jumps out and fades away, allowing Joy to escape. Joy uses various tools from Imagination Land to propel herself and Sadness to Headquarters, where they find that Anger's idea has disabled the control console, rendering Riley depressed and apathetic. At Joy's urging, Sadness takes control and successfully removes the idea, reactivating the console and prompting Riley to return home.

As Sadness reinstalls the core memories, Riley arrives home and breaks down in tears, confessing to her parents that she misses her old life. As her parents comfort and reassure her, Joy and Sadness work together to create a new, amalgamated core memory that creates a new personality island. A year later, Riley has adapted to her new home, and all her emotions now work together to help her lead a content, more emotionally complex life as she ages, with an expanded control console and additional personality islands produced by new core memories comprising multiple emotions.

Voice cast[edit]

The film's crew, along with the English and French voice actors, attended the film's premiere at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival: Lewis Black, Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler, Jonas Rivera, Marilou Berry, Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen, Mélanie Laurent, John Lasseter, Charlotte Le Bon, Pierre Niney, and Gilles Lellouche.

Several of the film's creators also contributed their voices, including director Pete Docter as Father's Anger,[14] and co-director Ronnie del Carmen, who provided additional voices.[14]



As a child, director Pete Docter relocated with his family to Denmark when his father moved to study the music of Carl Nielsen.[17] While his sisters had an easy time adjusting to the new surroundings, Docter felt he was judged constantly by peers.[18] While other kids were interested in sports, Docter sat alone drawing, a hobby that eventually led him to animation.[19] His social anxiety ended by high school.[17]

In late 2009, Docter noticed his pre-teen daughter, Elie, exhibiting similar shyness.[20] "She started getting more quiet and reserved, and that, frankly, triggered a lot of my own insecurities and fears," he said.[17] He imagined what happens in the human mind when emotions set in. The idea to depict it through animation excited Docter, who felt it the ideal form to portray "strong, opinionated, caricatured personalities".[21] He began researching information about the mind, alongside Jonas Rivera, a producer, and Ronnie del Carmen, a secondary director. They consulted Paul Ekman, a well-known psychologist who studies emotions, and Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Ekman had early in his career identified six core emotions—anger, fear, sadness, disgust, joy, and surprise. Docter found surprise and fear to be too similar, which left him with five emotions to build characters around.[21] Keltner focused on sadness being an emotion that strengthens relationships.[21]

The smash success of Docter's 2009 film Up encouraged those at Pixar to allow Docter to create another film with a more sophisticated story.[17] Inside Out is the first Pixar film without input from co-founder and former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who died in 2011. It also lacked extensive input from John Lasseter, who was more focused on restructuring Walt Disney Animation Studios in Los Angeles at the time of its production.[17] Executives at Disney and Pixar were positive at the proposal of making Inside Out, but acknowledged it would be difficult to market.[22]


Docter recruited a story crew to help develop the film's plot line. Although animation as an industry had been dominated by men, half of the story crew were women, in attempt to have more diverse input.[19] The choice to focus the film on a girl came from research that claimed that females age 11 to 17 are more attuned to expressions and emotions than others.[19] The idea to have Riley play hockey came from Del Carmen, who noted that the sport is big in Minnesota. They tried to stray away from stereotypically "girly" interests, such as the color pink or dresses.[19] Initial ideas for the film found the main character, Riley, falling into a deep depression. Docter later scrapped these ideas, as he felt they were inappropriate.[17]

The film was first storyboarded over a period of two to three years, all the while undergoing screenings for Pixar's "Brain Trust", a small group of creative leaders at Pixar who oversee development on all films.[23] After multiple screenings and suggestions from other filmmakers, the picture was put into production. It was again evaluated three months into that process. Kevin Nolting, editor of the film, estimated there were seven versions of Inside Out created before it even went into production.[23] The story team attempted to create as much contrast with characters as possible.[19] They found Joy the most complex character to write for, as she illustrates a broad range of "happy feelings".[24] The earliest idea present in the final film is that Joy holds onto youth too long, setting about a "social storm" for Riley.[25] It was not until several screenings later that they came upon the concept of moving to a new place, which created an external conflict that made the story easier to write. Initially, this crisis was to be set at a Thanksgiving Day pageant, in which Riley was hoping to be cast as its lead role, the turkey. Docter later deemed this idea too "bizarre" and it was replaced.[26]

Docter estimated it took four years of development for the film to achieve success in marrying the architecture of Riley's mind and her personal troubles.[26] The concept of "personality islands" helped develop the film's emotional stakes, as they directly affect events inside her mind and in her life.[25] In one draft, the characters fell into "Idea Fields", where they would "cultivate new ideas", much like a farmer would cultivate crop.[26] The character of Bing Bong—a discarded old imaginary friend—came about in one draft of the film as part of a refugee camp inside Riley's mind.[25] It was difficult to achieve the correct tone for the film; for example, viewers could not be distracted by Joy's nature or feel negative about the mess she helps steer Riley into.[25] Rivera credited the casting of Amy Poehler, in addition to the idea of moving, with helping the film find the right tone.[25]

An early version of the film focused on Joy and Fear getting lost together, as it seemed to be the most humorous choice. By July 2012, the project was set for an evaluation screening with other Pixar filmmakers. Docter gradually began to feel that the story was not working, which led to fears that he might be fired. He took a long walk at his home one Sunday, in which he began to consider himself a failure, his previous successes "flukes", and a general sense that he should resign from the film.[21] While pondering what he would miss about Pixar, he concluded that he would miss his coworkers and friends most of all. He soon reached a breakthrough: that emotions are meant to connect people together, and that relationships are the most important things in life.[22] He decided to replace Fear with Sadness, which he felt is crucial to renewal. He met with Rivera and Del Carmen that night to explain his change of plans, and to his surprise, they reacted positively to it. At the screening, he informed his superiors that new plans for the film were in order. Although a "scary moment", the film remained in production.[17]

Screenwriter Michael Arndt worked for a year on the film's script, calling it "both a brilliantly creative idea but also incredibly challenging," but left the project in early 2011, adding that "knowing the Pixar process, there may not be a single word [I wrote] that remains in the final script! They've had writers work on it since then."[27]


The film's voice cast of emotions, Amy Poehler, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, and Phyllis Smith, were first announced in August 2013.[28] With the release of the film's trailer in December 2014, it was revealed that Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan were cast in the film as Riley's parents.[13]

Hader, who had previously cameoed in Monsters University, was cast to voice Fear, a role that he felt he "weaseled" his way into by being a "huge fan" of Pixar's filmography.[29] Hader toured the studio over a week, and also "helped out" in the story room.[30] He was invited to play Fear by the end of his stay there, but was also asked to contact fellow Saturday Night Live (SNL) veteran Amy Poehler, which the team viewed as perfect for the character of Joy. "They said: 'Would you mind calling Amy? We don't want to call her and have her think we're some weirdo,'" he recalled. He phoned Poehler and explained the story to her, noting that her role would be the driving force in the film.[30] When the story was pitched to Kaling, she broke down in tears, explaining "I just think it's really beautiful that you guys are making a story that tells kids that it's difficult to grow up and it's OK to be sad about it."[21]

Smith was chosen by Rivera while he was watching Bad Teacher and saw her in a lunch scene. He called Docter and said "I think we found our Sadness."[31] As the film contains several veterans of SNL, the film's team spent a week at that program for research on a live television sequence.[29]

Richard Kind, who had previously starred in A Bug's Life, Toy Story 3, Cars, and Cars 2, portrayed Bing Bong.


The film's art design is intended to reflect 1950s Broadway musicals.[17] Docter imagined that with emotions for characters, they could "push the level of caricature both in the design and in the style of movement to degrees [they'd] never done before." To this end, they emulated animators Tex Avery and Chuck Jones.[26] Docter informed supervising animators Shawn Krause and Victor Navone to push the graphic caricature of each character rather than sticking to the rigid behavior of each RenderMan model. This required an artist to draw over characters in the film during dailies, using a Wacom Cintiq.[32] One of the first scenes the team worked on was the dinnertime scene, in which viewers rapidly switch between the real world and Headquarters inside the family's minds.[23]

In envisaging how the mind's interior would be depicted, the filmmakers concentrated on the word electrochemical; Ralph Eggleston, the film's production designer, explained, "It meant thinking of things as energy or energy-based, excitable."[33] Each emotion has a glowing, "effervescent quality" to them (particularly Joy), which was difficult to animate as it could be viewed as distracting.[34] "The characters are created with this energy because we are trying to represent what emotions would look like. They are made up of particles that actually move. Instead of being skin and solid, it is a massive collection of energy," Docter remarked.[35] The team worked for eight months on Joy's "sparkly" aura, but was prepared to delete it, as it would affect the film's budget. However, Lasseter requested that it be applied for each emotion. "You could hear the core technical staff just hitting the ground, the budget falling through the roof," recalled Eggleston.[34]

The film is localized to accommodate international audiences: In the Japanese version, for example, Riley is disgusted by green bell peppers, rather than by broccoli, to reflect the fact that Japanese children do not consider broccoli gross.[36]


Michael Giacchino composed the film's score; this was his fifth collaboration with Pixar and his second collaboration with Pete Docter after Up. The producers first met with Giacchino to explain the film's concept and screen it for him. In response, he composed an eight-minute suite of music, unconnected to the film, based on his emotions viewing it.[26] Rivera found it interesting that while both Giacchino and Docter were musicians, they discussed the film in terms of story and character.[26]


Inside Out: Original Soundtrack
Inside Out Soundtrack.jpg
Soundtrack album by Michael Giacchino
Released June 16, 2015
Recorded 2014–2015
Genre Soundtrack
Length 58:43
Label Walt Disney
Pixar film soundtrack chronology
Monsters University
Inside Out
The Good Dinosaur (2015)
Michael Giacchino chronology
Jurassic World
Inside Out
The Night Before (2015)

The music for the film is Michael Giacchino's fifth collaboration with Pixar as a composer.[37] Walt Disney Records released the soundtrack on June 16, 2015.[37]

Track listing

All music composed by Michael Giacchino.

No. Title Length
1. "Bundle of Joy"   2:48
2. "Team Building"   2:18
3. "Nomanisone Island/National Movers"   4:20
4. "Overcoming Sadness"   0:51
5. "Free Skating"   0:59
6. "First Day of School"   2:02
7. "Riled Up"   1:02
8. "Goofball No Longer"   1:11
9. "Memory Lanes"   1:22
10. "The Forgetters"   0:50
11. "Chasing the Pink Elephant"   1:55
12. "Abstract Thought"   1:47
13. "Imagination Land"   1:25
14. "Down in the Dumps"   1:47
15. "Dream Productions"   1:43
16. "Dream a Little Nightmare"   1:50
17. "The Subconscious Basement"   2:01
18. "Escaping the Subconscious"   2:09
19. "We Can Still Stop Her"   2:54
20. "Tears of Joy"   2:39
21. "Rainbow Flyer"   2:58
22. "Chasing Down Sadness"   1:45
23. "Joy Turns to Sadness/A Growing Personality"   7:49
24. "The Joy of Credits"   8:18
Total length:


Inside Out was first announced in August 2011 at the D23 Expo. In December 2012, Bleeding Cool reported the title of the film would be The Inside Out,[38] while reported it would be Inside Out the following February.[39] In April 2013, Disney officially announced the title on Twitter as Inside Out, during CinemaCon.[40]

Prior to its release, the film underwent a test screening for children, due to concerns from executives that it would be too complex for younger audiences—a fear quelled when the audience reacted positively to the picture.[24] The film premiered on May 18, 2015, at the 68th Cannes Film Festival, in an out-of-competition screening.[41] In the United States, it premiered on June 8, 2015, at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood,[42] and received a wide theatrical release starting on June 19, 2015, in 2D, 3D, and select IMAX 3D theatres.[43][44] It was the first animated movie to be released in Dolby Vision format in Dolby Cinema and the second for Disney following Tomorrowland.[45] On June 18, 2015, Skype added faces of the five "emotions" of the film as emoticons available for use in its IM service for the next three months.[46]

A short animated film, titled Lava, accompanies Inside Out in its theatrical release.[47] The musical love story was directed by James Ford Murphy and produced by Andrea Warren.[47] The story was inspired by the isolated beauty of tropical islands and the explosive allure of ocean volcanoes, and takes place over millions of years.[47]

Home media[edit]

Inside Out is scheduled to be released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on Blu-ray (2D and 3D) and DVD on November 3, 2015,[48] with a Digital HD release on October 13, 2015.[49] A short film set in the world of Inside Out, titled Riley's First Date?,[50] and directed by Josh Cooley, the head of story on the film,[51] will be included, along with Pixar's theatrical short, Lava.[50]

Video games[edit]

All five emotions are included as playable characters in Disney Infinity 3.0. There is also an Inside Out playset planned.[52]

A mobile game, Inside Out: Thought Bubbles, was released on June 18, 2015 by Disney Mobile Games on Apple App Store, Google Play, Amazon Appstore, Windows Store and Windows Phone Store. Playing as Riley's emotions, players have to match and sort memory bubbles through 125 levels inspired by the film's locations.[53]


Box office[edit]

As of October 4, 2015, Inside Out has grossed $353.9 million in North America and $438.4 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $792.3 million.[5]

Inside Out opened across 3,946 theaters in the United States and Canada, of which 3,100 showed the film in 3D.[54] It grossed $3.7 million during its Thursday-night showings. This was a record among Pixar films that had Thursday-night showings but behind Toy Story 3‍ '​s $4 million midnight showing.[55] The film then earned $34.2 million on its opening day, which is the second-largest opening day for a Pixar film behind Toy Story 3 ($41.1 million).[56][57] It ended its opening weekend in second place with $90.4 million, behind the second-weekend gross of Jurassic World ($106.6 million).[58] Although it was Pixar's first film not to debut at #1, its opening weekend gross was still the biggest for a Pixar original film (breaking The Incredibles‍ '​ record), the studio's second-biggest of all time (behind Toy Story 3), the biggest weekend debut for a film that did not debut at #1 (breaking The Day After Tomorrow‍ '​s record),[59] and the top opening for any original film, live-action or otherwise, not based on sourced material, eclipsing the $77 million debut of Avatar.[60][61] The film's successful opening has been attributed to its Cannes premiere, CinemaCon press screening, its 98% Rotten Tomatoes score, good word-of-mouth, Father's Day weekend and a successful Tuesday night Fathom screening.[62][63] In its second weekend, the film fell by 42% to $52.3 million and still held the second spot behind Jurassic World.[64] The rest of the week saw it slightly ahead of the latter.[65] Inside Out reached the #1 spot at the box office on its third weekend with $29.8 million.[66] Overall, IMAX contributed 10% or $36 million (as of September 4, 2015) of its total North American revenue.[67]

Outside North America, the film earned an estimated $40.3 million on its opening weekend from 37 countries, which is 42% of the entire international market.[68] Its largest openings were recorded in the UK, Ireland and Malta ($11.4 million), Mexico ($8.6 million), Russia and the CIS ($7.6 million), Italy ($7.4 million) and South Korea ($5.1 million).[68][69][70][71] In total earnings, its largest markets outside the U.S. and Canada are the United Kingdom ($58.1 million), South Korea ($31.7 million) and Mexico ($31 million).[72][73][74][75] It became the highest-grossing Disney or Pixar animated film of all time in Mexico (ahead of Frozen), the Philippines (ahead of Big Hero 6),[76] India and Ukraine, and in Russia it is the second highest-grossing Disney or Pixar film and the first Pixar film to exceed 1 billion rubles.[69] The film is yet to open in China (October 6).[73][77]

Critical response[edit]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 98%, based on 270 reviews, with a rating average of 9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Inventive, gorgeously animated, and powerfully moving, Inside Out is another outstanding addition to the Pixar library of modern animated classics."[78] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a score of 94 out of 100, based on 48 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[79] In CinemaScore polls, cinema audiences gave Inside Out an average score of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[56] Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith[80] and Richard Kind have received praise for their voice performances in the film.

Prior to its release, there was concern among the general public that Pixar films were dwindling in quality, with an over-reliance on sequels.[81] Likewise, DreamWorks Animation was beginning to flounder in the early 2010s as several films performed poorly at the box office, leading to speculation that the "genre" of computer animation was "in a funk".[17] Inside Out has been called a return to form by numerous film critics.[82][83][84][85][86]

Poehler's performance was praised by critics.

Following an advance screening at CinemaCon on April 22, 2015, the film was well received by audiences. Praise was aimed for its smart storyline, although some wondered whether the concept was too complicated for young audiences and to attract family crowds.[87][88] After premiering at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, the film attracted praise from film critics. Peter Debruge of Variety was effusive, calling it the studio's "greatest idea" and "a stunningly original concept that [...] promises to forever change the way people think about the way people think."[89] The Chicago Tribune‍ '​s Michael Phillips called it the studio's best since Up (also directed by Docter), a "consistently inventive and a heartening corrective to recent, stockholder-driven inferiorities."[82] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter deemed it an "audacious concept" that stands among the most "conceptually trippy films" for family audiences.[2] "With its quite literally cerebral bent, I think Inside Out might have some trouble fully connecting with younger kids, but grown-ups are likely to shed more than a few tears," remarked Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair.[90] The Guardian‍ '​s Peter Bradshaw felt it "buoyant and sweet-natured", though slightly inferior to Pixar's best.[91]

As the film went into wide release, it continued to attract acclaim. A. O. Scott of The New York Times deemed the film "an absolute delight", reserving particular praise for its "defense of sorrow, an argument for the necessity of melancholy dressed in the bright colors of entertainment."[84] The Washington Post‍ '​s Ann Hornaday considered it "that rare movie that transcends its role as pure entertainment to become something genuinely cathartic, even therapeutic, giving children a symbolic language with which to manage their unruliest emotions."[9] Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times found it "bold, gorgeous, sweet, funny, [and] sometimes heartbreakingly sad," deeming it one of the best films of the year.[92] Entertainment Weekly‍ '​s Chris Nashawathy extolled it as "transcendent and touching [...] so smart and psychologically clever."[93] Time‍ '​s Mary Pols felt it a "nearly hallucinogenic, entirely beautiful" work that "defies the conventions of family movies."[94] Christopher Orr of The Atlantic urged readers to view the picture, calling it "Pixar once again at the top of its game, telling the kind of thoughtful, moving meta-story it's hard to imagine being produced anywhere else."[85] Wai Chee Dimock in the Los Angeles Review of Books compared the film to the work of neuroscientists Antonio Damasio, Dacher Keltner, and Oliver Sacks.[95]


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