CAR STARS. Pixar Animation Studios moved into its current complex in Emeryville, CA, six years ago after a string of animated feature hits. The studio's latest creation, Cars (inset), is scheduled to be in theaters in June.
Pixar Animation Studios began life as the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm, Ltd., the production company founded by filmmaker George Lucas (Star Wars, Return of the Jedi, etc.). The division was purchased by Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs in 1984 and christened Pixar. Jobs remains chairman and CEO of the company.
For much of its early history Pixar concentrated on making animated short films and commercials, in both of which areas it garnered numerous awards for its creativity and technical innovation. An alliance with Walt Disney Studios allowed it to branch out into feature-length films in the 90s, beginning with the hugely successful and critically acclaimed Toy Story in 1995. After two more smashing successes (A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2) in the next four years, Pixar outgrew its original facility in Point Redmond,-CA, and moved to a sprawling new complex in Emeryville, an industrial town north of Oakland on San Francisco Bay, in 2000.
Since then, three more hit features ( Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles) followed. This past January, Disney acquired the company for $7.4 billion, a deal that also made Jobs one of Disney's largest individual shareholders and a member of its board.
Currently, the studio is finishing up its latest feature, Cars, which is slated for release next month.