Taking the stage at the film presentation at today's D23 Expo, John Lasseter and director Dan Scanlon offered a first glimpse at Monsters University. A prequel to Pixar's 2001 film, the 2013 release shows the first meeting between Billy Crystal's Mike Wazowski and John Goodman's James P. "Sully" Sullivan.
"They look familiar but, like all of us, they're a little thinner and a little shaggier," Scanlon told ComingSoon.net backstage after the presentation, "It was super fun making them look young but still familiar. That was sort of the big design challenge."
The younger versions of Mike and Sully debuted to much applause from the sold-out crowd. Both are depicted as 18 years old and still going through growing pains with Mike wearing a retainer.
Steve Buscemi was also confirmed to return as a younger Randal with the hint that Roz and George (the orange monster who winds up getting shaved in the first film) will likely be featured as well. New voice talent includes Dave Foley, Julia Sweeney, Joel Murray and Peter Sohn (the Pixar animator who voiced Emile in Ratatouille).
"We're definitely going to see a lot of monsters this time," Scanlon continued, "A lot of designs. The technology has made that possible but, also, the story has made that possible. We're at a larger University and it's packed with monsters. Hopefully we'll see a little bit more of the world. It's pretty cool to be able to open it this much. On the first one, fur was difficult. Just having Sully in a shot was enough to bog things down. Now we can see so much more."
When Mike and Sully enter the story, they're competing to become scarers. At Monsters U, being a scarer is a prestigious position akin to becoming an astronaut or an NFL player.
"Monsters University doesn't only teach scaring," Scanlon adds, "There are other things as well. I can't really get into what they are, but it is a University."
Lots of research went into "monsterizing" the college experience. The plan is to feature "cool" frat monsters, nerd monsters and goth monsters in the student body. Monster professors will also feature prominently.
The Pixar artists also toured several Ivy League schools because, as Scanlon puts it, "most of us went to art school and have no idea what real college is like."
The "monsterizing" process includes adding doors of various sizes, making archways look like mouths and putting horns on pretty much every roof.
We asked Scanlon if there was any chance of again seeing the "human" world in the prequel and, if so, would it similarly be set 10-15 years in the past.
"I don't think I can go into that yet," he said with a smile.
The presentation concluded with a special video greeting from John Goodman and Billy Crystal with Crystal opening with, "Hello nerds!"
Goodman lamented the fact that he didn't make it person and, on the video, Crystal retorted that he's glad he did, suddenly appearing on person on-stage, flanked by costumed characters of Mike and Sully.
"The script's great!" he shouted, "The actors are great. The art is great. Everyone's telling me it's great!"
Monsters University hits theaters on June 21, 2013.
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