|Directed by||Lee Unkrich|
|Produced by||Darla K. Anderson|
|Edited by||Steve Bloom|
|Music by||Michael Giacchino|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios|
|Box office||$807.8 million|
Coco is a 2017 American computer-animated fantasy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Based on an original idea by Lee Unkrich, it is directed by him and co-directed by Adrian Molina. The film's voice cast stars Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguía and Edward James Olmos. The story follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who is accidentally transported to the Land of the Dead, where he seeks the help of his deceased musician great-great-grandfather to return him to his family among the living and to reverse his family's ban on music.
The concept for Coco is inspired by the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead. The film was scripted by Molina and Matthew Aldrich from a story by Unkrich, Jason Katz, Aldrich, and Molina. Pixar began developing the animation in 2016; Unkrich and some of the film's crew visited Mexico for research. Composer Michael Giacchino, who had worked on prior Pixar animated features, composed the score. With a cost of $175–225 million, Coco is the first film with a nine-figure budget to feature an all-Latino principal cast.
Coco premiered on October 20, 2017, during the Morelia International Film Festival in Morelia, Mexico. It was theatrically released in Mexico the following week, the weekend before Día de Muertos, and in the United States on November 22, 2017. The film was praised for its animation, voice acting, music, visuals, emotional story, and respect for Mexican culture. It grossed over $807 million worldwide, becoming the 16th highest-grossing animated film ever at the time of its release. Coco received two awards at the 90th Academy Awards, and numerous accolades. The film was chosen by the National Board of Review as the Best Animated Film of 2017.
In Santa Cecilia, Mexico, Miguel dreams of becoming a musician, even though his family strictly forbids it. His great-great-grandmother Imelda was married to a man who left her and their daughter Coco to pursue a career in music, and when he never returned, Imelda banished music from her family's life before starting a shoemaking business.
Miguel now lives with the elderly Coco and their family, including Miguel's parents and his abuelita, who are all shoemakers. He secretly idolizes Ernesto de la Cruz, a famous musician who died decades earlier and teaches himself to play guitar from Ernesto's old films. On the Day of the Dead, Miguel accidentally damages the picture frame that holds a photo of Coco with her mother on the family ofrenda, discovering that a hidden section of the photograph shows his great-great-grandfather holding Ernesto's famous guitar. Concluding that Ernesto is his great-great-grandfather, an inspired Miguel leaves to enter a talent show for Day of the Dead despite his family's objections.
Breaking into Ernesto's mausoleum, Miguel takes his guitar to use in the show, but once he strums it, he becomes invisible to everyone in the village plaza. However, he can interact with his skeletal dead relatives, who are visiting from the Land of the Dead for the holiday. Taking him back with them, they learn that Imelda cannot visit, since Miguel accidentally removed her photo from the ofrenda. Miguel discovers that he is cursed for stealing from the dead and must return to the Land of the Living before sunrise, or he will become one of the dead; to do so, he must receive a blessing from a member of his family. Imelda offers Miguel a blessing on the condition he ends his dream of becoming a musician, but Miguel refuses and resolves to seek Ernesto's blessing instead. He meets Héctor, who declares that he knows Ernesto, offering to help him reach him in return for Miguel taking his photo back with him, so that he might visit his daughter before she forgets him, causing him to disappear completely. Héctor helps Miguel enter a talent competition to win entry to Ernesto's mansion, but Miguel's family tracks him down, forcing him to flee.
Miguel sneaks into the mansion, where Ernesto welcomes him as his descendant, but Héctor confronts them, again imploring Miguel to take his photo to the Land of the Living. Ernesto and Héctor renew an argument about their partnership in life, and Miguel realizes that when Héctor decided to leave the duo to return to his family, Ernesto poisoned him, then stole his guitar along with his songs, passing them off as his own to become famous. To protect his legacy, Ernesto seizes the photo and has his security guards throw Miguel and Héctor into a cenote pit. There, Miguel realizes that Héctor is his real great-great-grandfather and that Coco is Héctor's daughter.
After Imelda and the family rescue the duo, Miguel reveals the truth about Héctor's death. Imelda and Héctor reconcile, and the family infiltrates Ernesto's concert to retrieve Héctor's photo. Ernesto's crimes are exposed to the audience, who jeer at him as he is thrown out of the stadium, then crushed by a giant bell in the same manner that he originally died. In the chaos, however, Héctor's photograph is lost. As the sun rises, Coco's life and memory are fading; Imelda and Héctor bless Miguel so that he can return to the Land of the Living. After Miguel plays "Remember Me", Coco brightens and sings along with Miguel. She reveals that she had saved the torn-off piece of the family photo with Héctor's face on it, then tells her family stories about her father, thus saving his memory as well as his existence in the Land of the Dead. Miguel's family reconciles with him, ending the ban on music.
One year later, Miguel shows the family ofrenda, which now includes Héctor and a recently deceased Coco to his new baby sister Socorro. Coco's collected letters from Héctor prove that Ernesto stole his songs, destroying Ernesto's ill-gotten legacy and allowing Héctor to be rightfully honored in his place. In the Land of the Dead, Héctor and Imelda rekindle their romance, joining Coco and the rest of their family for a visit to the living, where Miguel in a mariachi costume sings and plays for his relatives, both living and dead.
Lee Unkrich first pitched an idea for the film in 2010, when Toy Story 3, which he also directed, was released. Initially the film was to be about an American child, learning about his Mexican heritage, while dealing with the death of his mother. Eventually, the team decided that this was the wrong approach and reformed the film to focus on a Mexican child instead. Of the original version, Unkrich noted that it "reflected the fact that none of us at the time were from Mexico." The fact that the film depicted "a real culture" caused anxiety for Unkrich, who "felt an enormous responsibility on [his] shoulders to do it right."
The Pixar team made several trips to Mexico to help define the characters and story of Coco. Unkrich said, "I'd seen it portrayed in folk art. It was something about the juxtaposition of skeletons with bright, festive colors that captured my imagination. It has led me down a winding path of discovery. And the more I learn about [el] Día de los Muertos, the more it affects me deeply." The team found it difficult working with skeletal creatures, as they lacked any muscular system, and as such had to be animated differently from their human counterparts. Coco also took inspiration from Hayao Miyazaki's anime films Spirited Away (2001) and Howl's Moving Castle (2004) as well as the action film John Wick (2014).
In 2013, Disney made a request to trademark the phrase "Día de los Muertos" for merchandising applications. This was met with criticism from the Mexican American community in the United States. Lalo Alcaraz, a Mexican-American cartoonist, drew a film poster titled Muerto Mouse, depicting a skeletal Godzilla-sized Mickey Mouse with the byline "It's coming to trademark your cultura." More than 21,000 people signed a petition on Change.org stating that the trademark was "cultural appropriation and exploitation at its worst". A week later, Disney canceled the attempt, with the official statement saying that the "trademark filing was intended to protect any title for our film and related activities. It has since been determined that the title of the film will change, and therefore we are withdrawing our trademark filing." In 2015, Pixar hired Alcaraz to consult on the film, joining playwright Octavio Solis and former CEO of the Mexican Heritage Corp. Marcela Davison Aviles, to form a cultural consultant group.
Unkrich found writing the script "the toughest nut to crack". Earlier versions of the film had different universe rules regarding how Miguel (originally called Marco) would get back from the land of the dead; in one case he physically had to run across the bridge. In one version of the story, his family is cursed with singing when trying to speak, which was included as a technique to add music to a story where music is banned.
Coco is the first motion picture with a nine-figure budget to feature an all-Latino cast, with a cost of $175–200 million. Gonzalez first auditioned for the role of Miguel when he was nine and was finalized in the role two years later. Speaking of his character, Gonzalez said: "[Miguel and I] both know the importance of following our dream and we know the importance of following our tradition, so that's something that I connected with Miguel a lot". During the film's pre-production, Miguel was originally set to be voiced by a child named Emilio Fuentes, who was removed from the role after his voice deepened due to puberty over the course of the film's production.
In 2016, the Coco team made an official announcement about the cast, which revealed that Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Renée Victor, and Anthony Gonzalez would voice the characters. Bratt, who voiced De la Cruz, was "moved" when he realized that Disney-Pixar wanted to make a film on Latin culture. Disney officials closely monitored Bernal's movements and expressions while he voiced the characters and used their input for animating Héctor.
Bratt voiced Ernesto De la Cruz, a character who he described as "the Mexican Frank Sinatra"; "[a] larger than life persona". On the advice of the filmmakers, Bratt watched videos of equivalent Mexican actors including Jorge Negrete and Pedro Infante. Bratt found the character similar to his father in physical appearance, "swagger and confidence", and worked in the film as a tribute to him. The character Mama Imelda's voice was provided by Alanna Ubach. Ubach felt that the film "is [giving] respect to one quality that all Latin families across the universe do have in common, and that is giving respect and prioritizing the importance of family". Mama Imelda's voice was influenced by Ubach's tía Flora, who was a "profound influence in [her] life". Ubach felt her tía was the family's matriarch, and dedicated the film to her tía.
A cameo appearance was made by Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D actress Natalia Cordova-Buckley as Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Unkrich stated that Cordova-Buckley's "role in Coco pays homage to Ms. Kahlo, her work and the people of Mexico who love her". Unkrich also stated that it was a struggle to find a role in the film for John Ratzenberger, who is not Latino but had voiced a character in every Pixar film. As Unkrich did not want to break Pixar's tradition, Ratzenberger was given a minor role with one word.
On April 13, 2016, Unkrich announced that they had begun work on the animation. The film's writer, Adrian Molina, was promoted to co-director in late 2016. Unkrich said that Pixar wanted "to have as much contrast between" the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead and that many techniques were used to differentiate the worlds. Color was one: "Given the holiday and the iconography, [Pixar] knew the Land of the Dead had to be a visually vibrant and colorful place, so [they] deliberately designed Santa Cecilia to be more muted" said Unkrich.
According to Harley Jessup, the film's production designer, Santa Cecilia is based on real Mexican villages, as the production team "stayed grounded in reality in the Land of the Living". Chris Bernardi, the film's set supervisor, said that the town was made small so Miguel could feel confined. Bert Berry, the film's art director, said that aged building materials were used to depict Santa Cecilia "as an older charming city". According to Unkrich, Miguel's guitar playing is authentic, as they "videotaped musicians playing each song or melody and strapped GoPros on their guitars" to use as a reference. For the scene in which Miguel plays music in his secret hideout, the filmmakers used "very elegant, lyrical camera moves" and "gentle drifts and slow arcing moves around Miguel as he plays his guitar with very shallow depth of field to enhance the beauty of the soft-focus foreground candles".
Christian Hoffman, the film's character supervisor, said that all of the details in Mama Coco's face were not modeled. Instead, his team used special software to design separate layers of detail, which were then added to her face with a shader. The character's model was made with higher resolution to get all the wrinkles right, according to Hoffman. Pixar used some Xolo dogs to use as reference for the character Dante, while a tentacle from Finding Dory's Hank was used for his tongue.
Jessup called the Marigold petal bridge that connects both worlds "elegant and magical". Michael K. O'Brien, the film's effects supervisor, called it "a huge technical challenge" for the animation team, but referred to it as something "so visually exciting with petals dripping from it; it was a massive artistic undertaking. [the production team] wanted it to glow — to feel alive". The scenes in which Miguel takes a few petals off of the bridge and in which Hector sinks into the bridge were given more effects and special art direction.
For the Land of the Dead, Unkrich did not want "to have just a free-for-all, wacky world", wanting instead to add logic and be "ever-expanding because new residents would arrive regularly". Jessup said that the animation team wanted the Land of the Dead "to be a vibrant explosion of color" when Miguel arrives. Jessup also said that "Lee [Unkrich] described a vertical world of towers, contrasting with the flatness of Santa Cecilia. The lights and reflections are dazzling and there's a crazy transportation system that connects it all. The costume colors are much more vibrant than in the Land of the Living, where [the animation team] tried to stay grounded in reality. [They] really went all out in the Land of the Dead to make it a reflection of the holiday". According to David Ryu, the film's supervising technical director, the animation team "figured out a way to introduce a single light — but give it a million points" for the scenes on the outside in the Land of the Dead: "The renderer sees it as one light, but we see a million lights".
According to art director Daniel Arraiga, the animators "had to figure out how to give [the skeletons] personality without skin, muscles, noses or even lips" and that they "played with shapes and did a lot of paintings. [They] sculpted and studied skulls from every angle to figure out where [they] could add appeal and charm". Global technology supervisor J.D. Northrup was hired early in the film's production in order to avoid potential issues in the film's animation process. Northrup said that "Each [of the skeletons' pieces] had to be independent so the complexity of the rig and the stress that it puts on the pipeline were something like we've never seen before." Northrup was also tasked with simplifying the skeleton's elements to render the skeleton crowds. In order to create the skeletons, several additional controls were used, as they "needed to move in ways that humans don't," according to character modeling and articulation lead Michael Honse. Honse said that the bones were a particular problem, stating that "there was a lot of back-and-forth with animation to get it right," but found "really cool ways" to move the skeletons.
Main article: Coco (soundtrack)
The first teaser of Coco was released on March 15, 2017. The teaser trailer introduced the basic concept of the film, while highlighting its focus on music. Scott Mendelson of Forbes praised the trailer as "a terrific old-school Pixar sell, mostly consisting of a single sequence and offering just the barest hint of what's to come." The film's themes and imagery drew comparison to another animated film that centered around Día de Muertos, The Book of Life (2014). A two-minute short film, titled Dante's Lunch – A Short Tail, was released online on March 29, 2017. It introduces the film's supporting character, a Xoloitzcuintle named Dante. The short was created early in the animation process by Unkrich and his team to have a better sense of the character.
The first official trailer was released on June 7, 2017, followed by a second trailer on September 13. The film was marketed extensively in Mexico, including traditional wall-painted advertising usually used for local events and never for films. Cinépolis, a movie chain in the country, held a contest for dubbing a character in the film, and another movie chain held a contest to become an interviewer for the cast and crew of the film.
Coco premiered on October 27, 2017, at the Morelia International Film Festival. It was released in the United States on November 22, in 3D. In theaters, the film was accompanied by Walt Disney Animation Studios' 21-minute featurette Olaf's Frozen Adventure as a limited time offering, making Coco the first Pixar film not to be accompanied by a Pixar short since Toy Story (1995). The film also has its own VR game, being Pixar's first VR development.
Coco was released for High Definition online streaming and digital download on February 13, 2018, and on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on February 27, 2018, by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
Coco grossed $210.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $597.4 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $807.8 million.
Coco was released in Mexico on October 27, nearly a month before its release in the United States. It grossed $9.3 million on its opening weekend, the biggest opening weekend for an original animated film and the biggest debut for an animated film outside of the summer movie season in the market. In its second weekend, it earned another $10.8 million, a 12% increase over its first weekend, bringing its total to $28 million. It became the fastest ten-day grosser ever for an animated feature in Mexico, as well as the biggest original animated release ever in the territory. It dropped by 23% in its third weekend, grossing $8.4 million. That brought its total to MX$792 million (US$41.4 million), making it the highest-grossing animated film and the second-highest-grossing film of all time in Mexico, behind Marvel's The Avengers, in local currency. A few days later, on November 15, it passed The Avengers to become the highest-grossing film in the Mexican market.
In the United States and Canada, Coco was projected to gross $55–65 million from 3,987 theaters in its first five days, including around $40 million in its opening weekend. It made $2.3 million from Tuesday night previews, landing between Disney's previous two November releases Moana ($2.6 million) and The Good Dinosaur ($1.3 million), and $13.2 million on its first day. It went on to debut to $50.8 million (including a five-day total of $72.9 million), finishing first at the box office. It was the 4th-biggest Thanksgiving opening weekend ever, behind fellow animated films Frozen, Moana, and Toy Story 2. In its second weekend, the film dropped by 46% to $27.5 million, a smaller drop than Moana, Frozen, Tangled, and The Good Dinosaur, and again topping the box office. It topped the box office once again in its third weekend, dropping by 33% and grossing $18.5 million, a similar hold to Moana. It became the fourth film of 2017 to top the box office three times, following Split, The Fate of the Furious and The Hitman's Bodyguard, before being overtaken by Disney's own Star Wars: The Last Jedi and another animated film, Ferdinand, in its fourth weekend.
It fell to number six in its fifth weekend, due to competition from three new releases – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Pitch Perfect 3, and The Greatest Showman – despite a small drop again; it grossed $2.8 million on Christmas Day. On the holiday week of December 22–28, the film finished at number six with a gross of $16.3 million, which was 6% up from the previous week, despite losing over 1,000 theaters. It finished at number six in its sixth weekend, going up 39% and 87%, respectively, during the three-day and four-day weekends; it grossed $2.6 million on New Year's Day. It fell outside the top 10 in its eighth weekend (which included Martin Luther King Jr. Day), dropping 38% and 14% respectively, during the three-day and four-day weekends.
In China, Coco finished number one at the weekend box office, with a three-day total of $18.2 million, making it the second-highest opening ever for a Disney or Pixar animated release in that market, behind Zootopia. After seeing increases each weekday on its first week, the film increased by 148% on its second weekend, bringing its total to $75.6 million in the market. It dropped by 21% in its third weekend, finishing first once again and grossing $35 Million. The film fell to number three in its fourth weekend, due to competition from two new domestic releases, grossing an additional $17.1 million. Coco's success in China came as a surprise to most box office analysts who were projecting a gross of $30–40 million. By its second weekend, it had become the highest-grossing Pixar release ever in China, nearly doubling previous record-holder Finding Dory, and by its fifth weekend, it had surpassed Despicable Me 3 to become the second highest-grossing animated movie of all time in the country, behind Zootopia. The movie was released in Japan, its final market, on March 16, 2018. As of May 1, 2018[update] the film's largest markets were China ($189.2 million), Mexico ($57.8 million), Japan ($41.4 million), France ($33.2 million), United Kingdom ($26.1 million), South Korea ($25.9 million), Spain ($21.4 million), Argentina ($17.6 million), Italy ($14.4 million) and Germany ($12.3 million).
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 352 reviews, with an average rating of 8.3/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Coco's rich visual pleasures are matched by a thoughtful narrative that takes a family-friendly—and deeply affecting—approach to questions of culture, family, life, and death." It was the site's highest-rated animated film and ninth highest-rated wide release of 2017. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 81 out of 100, based on 48 critics, indicating "universal acclaim." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "A+" on an A+ to F scale, one of fewer than 90 films in the history of the service to receive such a score; it was also the sixth Pixar film to earn the rating – the previous being Up in 2009. It also earned a 95% positive score, including a rare five-out-of-five rating, from filmgoers on PostTrak, along with a 76% "definite recommend".
Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter said, "At every imaginative juncture, the filmmakers (the screenplay is credited to Pixar veteran Molina and Matthew Aldrich) create a richly woven tapestry of comprehensively researched storytelling, fully dimensional characters, clever touches both tender and amusingly macabre, and vivid, beautifully textured visuals." Robert Abele of TheWrap praised the film, saying: "If an animated movie is going to offer children a way to process death, it's hard to envision a more spirited, touching and breezily entertaining example than Coco." In his review for Variety, Peter Debruge wrote, "In any case, it works: Coco's creators clearly had the perfect ending in mind before they'd nailed down all the other details, and though the movie drags in places, and features a few too many childish gags... the story's sincere emotional resolution earns the sobs it's sure to inspire." Debruge also described the film as "[An] effective yet hardly exceptional addition to the Pixar oeuvre." Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com gave the film four out of four, writing that "There's a touch of Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki in the film's matter-of-fact depiction of the dead interacting with the living, as well as its portrayal of certain creatures" such as Dante and Pepita. He concluded his review by stating, "I had some minor quibbles about [Coco] while I was watching it, but I can't remember what they were. This film is a classic."
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone rated the film 3.5 out of four, calling it a "loving tribute to Mexican culture", while praising the animation, vocal performances (particularly of Gonzalez, García Bernal, and Bratt), and its emotional and thematic tone and depth. The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips called the film "vividly good, beautifully animated", praising Giacchino's musical score and the songs, as well drawing a comparison to the emotional tone of Inside Out. A. O. Scott of The New York Times praised the film as "a time-tested tune with captivating originality and flair, and with roving, playful pop-culture erudition", and called the film's cultural vibe "inclusive" and "a 21st-century Disney hallmark". Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times found the film to be "full of life" and deemed it "a bouncy and heart-tugging adventure", while lauding the vocal performances as "fantastic" and "first-rate". Brian Truitt of USA Today described the film as "effervescent, clever and thoughtful," calling it one of "Pixar's most gorgeously animated outings", and "the most musical Pixar film, with a host of catchy tunes". Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger wrote that the backgrounds "have a vibrancy, and its atmosphere carries a warmth. And even after it's done, both linger, just a bit—like a perfectly struck guitar chord".
Main article: List of accolades received by Coco (2017 film)
For the 90th Academy Awards, Coco received two awards: Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. From thirteen nominations earned at the 45th Annie Awards, the film won eleven awards (including Outstanding Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production for Unkrich and Molina, Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production for Gonzalez, and Best Animated Feature). Among the film's nominations include two Golden Globe Awards (winning one). Coco was chosen by the National Board of Review as the Best Animated Film of 2017.
In 2018, news outlets discovered that Disney Pixar had failed to disclose that producers for Coco had based the character of "Mama Coco" on María de la Salud Ramírez Caballero from the Purépecha village of Santa Fe de la Laguna, "a town of Purépecha potters in Quiroga, Michoacán." In a news interview, Salud stated that the producers "offered me so many things, but nothing came of it. They only came and took my picture and took it with them. They asked me what I need. Well, look at how I live and alone. My daughters live here, behind the house. And I'm here alone, that's what I have." In a report by Telemundo, residents and artisans of Santa Fe da la Laguna recognized that the attention Salud has received by people throughout the world has increased tourism for the town. Gabriela Gabriel Fabián, a potter of the town, noted that "It has benefited us because many more tourists come. This town is known because of the lady's fame, they buy our artwork, everything we do and figures of her."
While the production team at Disney Pixar have recognized that they "based the Rivera family – a multigenerational matriarchy headed by Miguel's formidable grandmother – on real-world families with whom they embedded while visiting the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Guanajuato between 2011 and 2013," they have not acknowledged Salud's contribution to the film. Co-director Adrian Molina stated, "not only is [Coco] based in a real place, in Mexico, but it's based in real traditions, so we knew it was very important to do the research, to get every detail recorded, so that when we get back to Pixar and we start deciding what is this town going to look like, what is this grandmother going to wear, what kind of dancing and music are they going to listen to, it can all come from an informed place." However, Salud remains unmentioned in all reports Disney Pixar have made regarding inspiration for the film.
Salud reported that since the release of the film, many people, even internationally, have visited her and will refer to her as "Mama Coco." In response, she replied, "Yes, but ["Mama Coco's"] not my name. [The producers] chose that name. And now all the people who come and visit tell us that's my name. But I tell them no, it's not my name. My name is María de la Salud." Prior to the film's release, Salud was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and now she has to use oxygen tanks to breathe. The family however has expressed that they "aren't looking to receive royalties, or money, despite her grandmother's need to recharge her oxygen tank every two days." They are, however, asking "that the company acknowledge her contribution" to the film, which has yet to occur.