Pixar has long been considered the gold standard for original content: from Toy Story to Finding Nemo to Wall-E to Inside Out, Pixar’s movies are heartfelt and engaging storylines with interesting characters. However, in order to make a great movie, the creative minds at Pixar had to drop a lot of really great concepts in order to make the best possible movie.
Monster’s Inc. originally featured a girl named Mary. Mary had two brothers who liked to scare her and she cowered in fear. The character who became Sully, name Johnson, was originally an engineer-like worker, instead of the top scarer, like in the movie. Unlike the movie, Mary could actually talk legibly and have real conversations with Johnson. Mary and Johnson eventually went on scares together as a team. Although the movie is very good, it’s interesting to think of a movie where the girl could talk and Johnson/Sully would be more in need of help.
In Finding Nemo, originally the father was supposed to tell Nemo about his life with his wife before she was killed. Nemo would imagine incredible scenarios and Marlin would bring it down a notch. The concept, while intriguing, was cut because the filmmakers were servicing three stories instead of just two (Marlin searching for Nemo and Nemo in the fish tank) and because it was easy to guess what was about to happen.
The Incredibles originally started differently. Bob and Helen Parr are new neighbors with a new baby. At a barbecue, Bob and Helen struggle to hide their roles as domestic husband and wife. They have to leave the party when Bob accidentally breaks a knife on his fingers due to his super strength and has to play it off as if he is hurt. Later that night, the Bob and Helen are in their bed when they are attacked by Syndrome. Syndrome holds Bob and Helen captive with his zero-point energy when the baby starts crying, and goes to investigate. Fortunately, Mr. Incredible uses a distraction to break free and destroy Syndrome. One of the reasons the scene was cut was actually because Syndrome was such a fascinating character that he was reworked as the main villain instead of the opening villain, giving him more screen time. But when that happened, the original opening was lost.
In Wall-E, the lazy, rounded humans in their personal computer motorized chairs were originally going aliens with green gel see through bodies with out limbs, and had a made up language and a royal family. However, the director, Andrew Stanton, realized that the concept was not that relate-able and slowly the aliens became the humans that ended up in the film.
In Monsters University, a stray line in Monster’s Inc. (where Sully says to Mike, “You’ve been jealous of my good looks since the third grade) is tried to be storyboarded in the framework of the college-based film, but the filmmakers couldn’t figure out how to logically place it in the story they wanted to tell.
In Inside Out, Joy was originally placed with Fear instead of Sadness. Another aspect of this version is that Joy was originally a lot more frustrated (instead of you know, joyful) in this version. Joy was originally called Optimism. One of the scenarios originally presented was that instead of a move, Riley was going to try to audition of the Thanksgiving pageant. The idea was deemed too bizarre until they settled on the idea of the move.
All of these abandoned concepts can be seen on the DVD/Blu-Ray extras for the movies in question. Check out these abandoned concepts and imagine how different the movie might be if it was made with that concept.