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Feature: Finding Nemo

Just Keep Swimming

Underwater memories

The key players behind Pixar’s accomplished CGI movie reveal the secrets that made Finding Nemo and its DVD the biggest sellers of 2003…

Great movies aren’t just things we watch: they are treasures we must own. If evidence were ever needed about consumers’ urge to collect, then the record-breaking DVD release of Finding Nemo should stun those who ever believed that the ‘pay per view’ medium was the way forward. The number one animated film of all-time, grossing $340million in the USA (overtaking the previous champion, Disney’s The Lion King, by $10million), Nemo filled theatres during the summer of 2003: one could almost assume that everyone who wished to see the movie had already done so.

Yet, when Nemo received its Region 1 DVD release on November 4, not even the money-crunchers at Disney could have foreseen the pre-Christmas demand. Nemo was enormous: in just two weeks it became the best-selling disc of all time, notching up sales of 15 million units, rapidly overtaking previous record-breakers Spider-Man and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. In terms of hard cash, those two-week sales figures add around $400million to the movie’s takings – making the film an even bigger draw on DVD than at cinemas.

“The home entertainment success of films like Finding Nemo proves that the consumer’s enjoyment of our properties continues far beyond the theatrical release,” said the delighted Disney boss Michael Eisner. “These enduring films provide a strong, sustained revenue stream for the company.”

And that bank account looks set to flourish further in February, as the DVD finally makes its way to European stores.

So what makes Nemo such an intrinsically collectable title? How can it be that a rather sweet animated morality tale holds adult men and women in its thrall: after all, this is the first disc that almost every single member of the Ultimate DVD review team has begged to be allowed to review.

Set in the Great Barrier Reef, Pixar’s fifth computer animated feature follows the relationship between the over-protective clown fish Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) and his impetuous son Nemo (vocal performance by Alexander Gould). When Nemo’s curiosity gets the better of him, and he is captured by a scuba diver, Marlin vows to track him down – assisted by a fish with an acute short-term memory problem, Dory (Ellen DeGeneres).

Witty, touching, engaging and a beautiful feast for the eyes, Finding Nemo was devised by Andrew Stanton (A Bug’s Life), who also co-wrote the script and serves as director on this aquatic masterpiece.

“Technically, we’ve pushed things beyond anything Pixar has done before,” notes John Lasseter, the executive producer and Pixar’s vice president of creative. “Just animating fish was difficult, but our technical team has created an underwater environment that is graceful and beautiful.

“The real underwater world is so spectacular that it’s already a Fantasy world. Our challenge was to let the audience know that our ocean is caricatured. We wanted them to know that this wonderful world doesn’t exist, but then using the amazing tools that we have in computer animation make it look totally believable. Our goal is always to make things believable, not realistic.”

by David Richardson

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Ultimate DVD #51

Finding Nemo © Pixar/Disney, Image © Visual Imagination Ltd
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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Ultimate DVD #51, see below for ordering options
Ultimate DVD #51
March 2004
ships from Jan 29 2004
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