By Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Staff Writer

The monsters behind “Monsters, Inc.” and “Monsters University”/PHOTO VIA Flickr user Michelle O’Connell Photography

“It seems crazy now, but I played basketball and I was going to be either professional player or in the Olympics,” Kori Rae said in a roundtable interview. “That was my goal from childhood. But then an injury in college changed that and I had to figure out what to do and where to go from there.”

After a period of drifting and some self-introspection, Rae landed at Pixar 20 years ago, and worked among some of the other great Pixar minds to create childhood classics like “The Incredibles”, “Up” and “Monsters, Inc.”

When she and Pixar storyboard artist, Dan Scanlon, began their discussion of re-entering the world of “Monsters, Inc.” for “Monsters University“, they decided very early on that it was time to introduce the somewhat controversial theme that Rae faced many years ago: The possibility that, even with hard work and determination, sometimes dreams don’t come true.


Mike Wazowski’s dream didn’t come true. Wazowski was always an assistant to James Sullivan, the scarer, not a scarer himself. So, as the “Monsters, Inc.” team decided to focus on Mike as a character for a prequel, they had to figure out how to tackle the touchy subject of failure – a subject even more terrifying for all of the “Monsters, Inc.” fans now entering their college years.

When Pixar released “Monsters University” in theaters last June, children and adults alike had to face their fears of failure the way Mike and Sully did; as scary as that prospect may be, the film still raked in $82 million in its opening weekend, leaving it only second to “Toy Story 3” as the most successful opening weekend for a Pixar film.

“The beauty of Pixar films is that we can tell those stories that seem kind of adult, but we can tell them in a way that appeals to kids,” Rae said.

The DVD and Blu-ray, to be released on Oct. 29, include features that treat Pixar like a college campus, with 101s in storyboards and Music Appreciation seminars with Randy Newman. Rae specifically mentioned the “Paths to Pixar” feature, which profiles various producers, artists and directors who never intended to end up at Pixar.

“We have animators who were doctors, an attorney, a production designer who wanted to be a baseball player in Japan, things like that,” Rae said of Paths to Pixar.

“That’s what we feel the theme of this movie is kind of about – When something gets in your way of that one thing you think you’re supposed to do or who you’re supposed to be, remain open and see what’s around the corner, because usually, in most cases, it ends up better than you ever imagined.”

The film also becomes On-Demand on Oct. 29.