As a fan of film, I love exploring behind the scenes. Reading about the production process, the special effects and the stories of what could have been.
Newt was to be Pixar’s fourteenth film and the feature length directorial debut of Gary Rydstrom. Gary was a sound designer who had worked for George Lucas, James Cameron and Steven Spielberg. He made his directorial debut with the short Pixar film Lifted which was shown theatrically before Ratatouille in 2007.
The official press release for Newt released in April 2008 read as follows:
“NEWT (Domestic Release Date: Summer 2011, Disney Digital 3-D(TM)) Pixar Animation Studios Director: Gary Rydstrom Producer: Richard Hollander Writers: Gary Rydstrom, Leslie Caveny What happens when the last remaining male and female blue-footed newts on the planet are forced together by science to save the species, and they can’t stand each other? That’s the problem facing Newt and Brooke, heroes of “newt,” the Pixar film by seven-time Academy Award(R) winner for sound Gary Rydstrom, and director of Pixar’s Oscar-nominated short, “Lifted.” Newt and Brooke embark on a perilous, unpredictable adventure and discover that finding a mate never goes as planned, even when you only have one choice. Love, it turns out, is not a science.”
Newt was originally planned for release in 2011 but was pushed back to 2012. Disney made an announcement in April 2010 that Bear and the Bow, which was later renamed as Brave, would be the Pixar film for 2012. Newt was nowhere to be seen on any official document concerning release dates.
Newt was also removed from the official Disney A to Z Encyclopaedia by chief archivist Dave Smith. When a Pixar fan blogger emailed David to the whereabouts of Newt’s entry within that encyclopaedia, an unsigned email returned within a few hours stating, “The film has been cancelled”.
Comments from other industry insiders led to speculation that the film had indeed been cancelled but head of Pixar John Lasseter declined to give any comment at that time.
Ain’t It Cool News reporter Quint was at the Disney 2008 announcement event and these were his thoughts
on what was shown of Newt:
“Newt, our lead, has been in captivity since he was a tadpole. He’s lonely. His only friend is a lifeless sock puppet. He can see the mating ritual chart from his cage and practices day in and day out, getting ready for scientists to capture him a girlfriend. “And who can’t relate to that?” asks Rydstrom.
Unfortunately, the 9th and final step is obscured by a Mr. Coffee, so he doesn’t know how the ritual ends. “It’s the way of life. You wanna know step 9 and there’s a Mr. Coffee in front of it.”
Brook is the name of the last female Blue-Footed Newt. She is in the wild and has no idea she’s the last female of her species. She escapes all sorts of dangers in her day to day life, including being evasive of these crazy biologists who are always chasing her. Rydstrom describes her evasive capabilities as making her an “amphibious Errol Flynn.”
One day they catch her and bring her back to the lab and present her to Newt. They have “the world’s worst first date” before, through circumstance, they both end up in the wild. Newt is worthless out here, but Brook gets him through the trials.
They meet a character named Eddie, a giant Hellbender Salamander, who is a ladies man and passes along his incredibly shallow ideas of love to Newt. Of course, predictably they don’t work.
“Newt is a movie about how finding a mate never goes as you expect even, make that, especially if you only have one choice.”
talked to Lasseter in May 2011 primarily to promote Cars 2, although they did ask him about Newt, which he replied:
“We’ve put movies into development and some get further than others and then we feel like things just aren’t quite ready we put them to the side and that’s just been put on a shelf and we’ll see where that goes in the future,” said Lasseter. “It’s story was very similar to a movie that’s out in theaters right now with a blue parrot. Oh my! Wow, we were like … no, there was no … great minds think alike, I guess. It was really pretty similar.”
The film he is referring to is 20th Century Fox’s CG animated film Rio. A story of a parrot that thinks he is the last of his kind until he learns of another living in Rio de Janeiro and sets out to find them.
Newt was long enough in production that he even managed to make cameos in two other Pixar films. Here you can see a “Newt Xing” sign that appears in Andy’s room from Toy Story 3. A real “Newt Xing” sign was put up at one of Pixar’s universities to promote awareness while it was still in production.
Newt also made an appearance in Brave as you can see from this picture below.
Pixar decided to release several pieces of pre-production artwork to give an indication of how the film would’ve looked. I’ve included one piece below. You can find the full gallery here on facebook.
What Could Have Been… is a series first created by John (@UKFilmNerd) on the original version of theunheardnerd.com. We will be re-running the series in a weekly format, but if you can’t wait for the next instalment you can check it out now. [What Could Have Been… #1-12]