The highly-anticipated Finding Dory releases on June 17, a full 13 years after Finding Nemo. But even if you've seen Pixar's behemoth talking fish picture a hundred times, you may not know all of its secrets. And if you do, you might know too much for your own good. Either way, here are ten facts about Finding Nemo that the Disney goons don't want you to know.
1. The part of Dory was written for Ellen DeGeneres.
Although Dory was original conceived as a male character, director/cowriter Andrew Stanton decided to write the character for DeGeneres after watching the Ellen show and noticing her "change the subject five times before finishing one sentence." Luckily, her unprofessionalism as a talk show host made her perfect for her role as a forgetful fish!
2. The water animation had to be redone because it was too realistic.
At the time Finding Nemo was being made, nobody had ever animated underwater environments in that way before. Pixar eggheads studied water to create an accurate simulation, which wound up being a little too accurate. Nobody could tell the difference between their footage and the real thing, which would have clashed with the film's cartoonish characters. For that reason, they had to start over from scratch and design a less-realistic version of water. What a pain in the ass.
3. It's Pixar's most profitable film.
Adjusted for inflation, Finding Nemo has made a net profit of $1.097 billion, and is the bestselling DVD of all time. That's a lot of clams! Some analysts are predicting that Finding Dory will break this record, so get ready for Disney to push through 8 more sequels in the coming decade. Who's excited for Finding Seahorse #4?
In a testament to how labor-intensive Pixar's process is, pre-production on Finding Nemo began six years before it was released (although animation didn't begin until 2000). At the time, Toy Story was the only feature film Pixar had released, and the only feature-length animated movie in history. In that context, Nemo seems like a highly ambitious undertaking, even foolishly so. But then again, it made a billion dollars, so who's the fool now?
Nemo appears as one of the toys in Boo's room in Monsters Inc., a movie that came out two years before Finding Nemo. Forward-thinking Easter eggs like these are one benefit to the fact that it takes Pixar forever to make these movies.
7. Andrew Stanton based the film on his own life as an overprotective parent.
The relationship of Nemo and his father Marlin was based on Stanton's own life. He had recently become a father while making the film, and often found himself struggling with his own tendency to baby his son too much. But that piece of family disfunction was perfect fodder for his professional life. No word on how they get along these days.
8. The facial expressions of the characters were modeled on dogs.
In order to maximize the expressiveness of the character's faces while keeping them as simple as possible, the animators studied the faces of dogs. So if you find yourself empathizing with them, it's not because you suddenly give a sh*t about fish. Dogs all the way.
9.The film was green-lit based on one word.
Stanton initially delivered a lengthy, passionate pitch for the movie to Pixar's Chief Creative Officer/Hawaiian Shirt Model John Lasseter. After Stanton was blue in the face from exhaustion, Lasseter looked at him quizzically and said, "You had me at 'fish.'" What a d*ck.
10. One in six species featured in the film is at risk of extinction.
Pixar set Finding Nemo in Australia's Great Barrier Reef, a beautiful natural wonder that is also one of the most threatened ecosystems on Earth. A 2011 study by researchers who hate their children found that one out of every six species shown in the movie is at risk of going extinct. And that study was conducted five years ago, so by now it could be many more.
A more recent study found that 90% of the Great Barrier Reef is suffering from coral bleaching. So don't be surprised if Finding Dory isn't quite as colorful as its predecessor.