Lee Unkrich


Despite having played a hand in some of the most visually impressive animated blockbusters of the past decade, many of those now out in re-issued 3D form, “Toy Story 3” director Lee Unkrich still hasn’t invested in a 3D Blu-ray player and television for his home theater.

“I’m in the middle of upgrading”, Unkrich says, “And I’ll definitely be making sure we’ve got 3D [in the house].”

Though he believes there’s always going to be a place for cinemas (“I hope so [anyway], there’s just something about going to the movies that feels special”), Unkrich believes the home might just be the best place to see a movie these days.

“These days, with Blu-ray, films looks amazing at home – if you have the right equipment”, he says, reiterating that you must invest in a good screen and player to get the full effect. “It use to annoy me how, when we were supervising the video transfers of the films all those years ago, how much quality we’d be losing by doing so. It just never looked as good. But now, it does – it’s definitely on par with what you’re seeing at the cinema.”

It’s certainly time to toss away that old 2D DVD player and CRT TV, says the filmmaker.

Unkrich, 45, is a little less convinced digital has won over film in the cinema stakes though, believing there’s a place for both.

“We’re living in a digital word”, Unkrich, whose first job at Pixar was editing the original “Toy Story”, says. “And I like digital cinema a lot. With digital protection, it’s eliminated the need for changing spools, and all this splicing. Digital produces really high quality. But not all films should be digital, I still love film.”

Speaking of loving films, audiences went nuts for Unkrich’s last movie “Toy Story 3” when it was released in 2010. Though it’s obviously a favourite, “because I have been with the Toy Story series from day one and this was a very personal project for me, for the added matter that I directed it”, the filmmaker still can’t decide which of his movies is his ultimate favourite. And when you look at his roster of hits – “Monster’s Inc”, “Finding Nemo”, “Cars”, “Ratatouille” – you understand why.

“It’s like asking me to choose my favourite child. I really do love them all”, he says.

Presently, Unkrich is lending a hand on putting together the highly-anticipated “Monster’s Inc” sequel, “Monster’s University”.

“I’m helping director out with some things. It’s going to be great. I’m really excited for it.”

Hard to believe, considering the types of films he makes, but Unkrich’s favourite movie is Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”.

“I just love it. I’m obsessed with it – and have been since I was, like, 12 years-old”, but it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a live-action movie like it on Unkrich’s to-do list. “Maybe one day I’ll return to live-action (he started directing TV), but at the moment I’m quite comfortable working in animation. I’m happy where I am.”

Someone seemingly keen to switch gears is Unkrich’s “Toy Story 3” colleague, writer Michael Arndt, who was recently announced as the screenwriter for the next live-action “Star Wars” movie.
Unkrich is as excited for his friend as he is for the film itself.

“It’s great”, he says of Arndt’s appointment to Lucasfilm.

Unkrich is as excited as the rest of us to hear who might end up captaining the new “Star Wars” trilogy, and wouldn’t at all be surprised to hear it’s someone of note.

“Many of the top-tier filmmakers working today were inspired to become filmmakers by Star Wars, so I think they’re really excited by this news. They were kids when the movies came out, and now they may have a chance to possibly play a part in the future [of the franchise]. I, personally, am very excited… “

“It’s great. I was surprised when it was announced that George [Lucas] decided it was time to retire, and that Disney was taking over was a surprise, but I think [Disney and Lucasfilm] is a great match. I’m really excited for it.”

Finding Nemo 3D/Blu-ray is now out
Brave is on DVD Nov 21
Monster’s Inc 3D/Blu-ray is out Jan 2013