Updated: December 9, 2023
Image: PixarThe Good Dinosaur is a brand new 3D computer animated film falling under the comedy and adventure genre. Produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released under Walt Disney Pictures the movie showcases the epic journey of a fearless Apatosaurus named Arlo who befriends a human boy named Spot on his way back home. This movie from Disney/ Pixar’s is their second outing from the production house after a long gap of two years. Directed by Peter Sohn, the film revolves around a very simple question about what if asteroids never hit earth and humans and dinosaurs co-existed with each other. The film aims to answer this question and how a young Apatosaurus befriends a boy on his way back home and their adventurous journey together in an alternate timeline.
The story of this comic and adventurous 3D animated movie from Disney/Pixar revolves around a brave Apatosaurus by the name Arlo who loses his father in an accident and gets lost by falling into a river and gets knocked out by a huge rock on his route home. As Arlo struggles to find his way back home through the high mountains, he befriends a cave boy by the name Spot. Based on the classic “boy and dog” narrative of survival, the movie showcases Arlo as the boy and Spot as dinos best pal since Arlo is the main protagonist of the movie.
Since the movie has showcased the Apatosaurus Arlo as the main character of the movie who is similar to an 11 year old kid, the design and production team found it very challenging. The character Arlo faces a lot of problems after his birth making him extremely vulnerable, fearful and weak. He is disconnected from his family and because of these problems he feels less worthy and the movie showcases his journey to prove his worth by facing the challenges that are thrown at him. These emotions had to be shown on a dinosaur and for that you need to give him a goofy expression and bright eyes. These expressions give the character an innocent look and to work on these simple, but small emotions proved extremely challenging for the team. The next big challenge was to create a big landscape for a dinosaur like Arlo which could bring out the best out of him.
The artistic team also had to create a few dangerous elements like quicksand and landslides. To garner inspiration the design and animation team had to work and study topographic maps created by the U.S Geological Survey for the Google Maps to take note of the heights of mountains and rivers that would challenge Arlo. They had to study the millions of trees and leaves that would fill the world that went 500 million miles off into the distance. Due to these minute challenges each and every Disney/Pixar movies take hell of a long time to create. Hundreds of artists meticulously work on creating every single blade of grass, rock, tree and even a drop of water without the use of any computer technology, a process that is time-consuming.
The emotions that Arlo go through in the movie are depicted through water. The river plays a central part of the movie because the protagonist has to follow the river to get back home. Creating an animation with water is difficult and to showcase an emotional undercurrent can be challenging. When Arlo goes through an emotional stress the water is shown as roiling and when he is happy and enjoying his time with his human friend the water is shown clear and calm. Connecting the emotions of Arlo with something like the flow of river or state of the river can drain you out. The final result although is beautiful as well as challenging. This mysterious and treacherous landscape allows the protagonist Arlo to conquer his inner fears and discover his true inner self.
See also: ‘The Good Dinosaur’ Trailer: Adventurous 3D Animated of A boy and his fearless Apatosaurus.
In 2009, when the promotional video for the movie “Up” was released, many fans noticed four stand-out images in the background in the office of sculptor Greg Dykstra. The top image was a clay sculpture of a long-necked dinosaur with a person standing next to it and below it were two images of a boy. The fourth image was not very clear, but it was a drawing of a Sauropod. As “Up” got released in the year 2009, the development would have anyway started during the later part of 2009.
It was announced in June 2011 that the film was slated to be released on November 27th, 2013. In August 2011, the storyline, director, producer, co-director, and the various other details were announced at the D23 Expo. Bob Peterson and John Walker gave the title “The Untitled Pixar Movie about Dinosaurs” and even created a logo for the title. It was only on April 24th, 2012; Pixar announced the new title “The Good Dinosaur”.
The plot revolved around plant eating dinosaurs and not the carnivore’s one. They had a certain way of living that was more agrarian. The filmmakers wanted to explore what the dinosaurs represented today and how they are stereotyped. Bob Peterson wanted to show all about dinosaurs, what it is like to be a dinosaur, and how it would be to be with a dinosaur. This was never showcased in any previous movies about dinosaurs. Bob Peterson got the inspiration for this movie from his childhood visit to a world fair where he was impressed with the dinosaur animatronics. The viewers might feel the dinosaurs in the movie are evil; however the title itself is very deceptive. It is a very simple movie with a lot to learn.
In December 2011 Disney shared the release dates for its movies. A film “Frozen” was slated to be released o n November 27, 2013, which led many to believe that the “The Untitled Pixar Movie about Dinosaurs” originally slated to release on that date now had a new title “Frozen”. However, it was later on confirmed with Disney that “Frozen” is not a movie from Pixar. Pixar later announced that “The Good Dinosaur” would release on May 30, 2014. In March 2013, it was announced that Thomas Newman will be composing the musical score for the movie and in August of the same year Lucas Neff, John Lithgow, Frances McDormand, Judy Greer, Bill Hader and Neil Patrick Harris have joined as the cast of the film.
In August 2013, Blue Sky Disney reported that due to story issues the producer and director of the film have been removed. On September 18, 2013, it was announced that the “The Good Dinosaur” will be released on November 25th, 2015 resulting in rescheduling of some other films. By August 2014, project co-director Peter Sohn has already worked and reworked the project and he felt it was right to go ahead with the film. After a complete rework on the film, and with a fantastic new story at hand, it was decided that Peter Sohn would direct the movie. He scrapped the concept of dinosaur farmers and a whole new story where nature played a huge role was created, making this the first Pixar movie with no real villain. In June 2015 a whole new cast and crew were announced who replaced the previous one.
Thomas Newman had announced in 2013 that he will be composing the music for this new animated movie, but in September 2015, Jeff Danna was selected to score music for this movie along with his brother making it the first movie from Pixar to have music composed by two music composers instead of one and Disney’s first animated movie after Brother Bear.
The Good Dinosaur is the second film from Pixar to have a “the” in the title after “The Incredibles”. Finally, the “The Good Dinosaur” will release on November 25th, 2015 before Thanksgiving.