Disney Pixar’s latest released creation about a young boy who embarks on an incredible journey to the Land of the Dead has been hard to miss lately — and for good reason. Since its release last November, Lee Unkrich’s Coco has met with nothing but success critically as well as at the box office (it remained in the top position for 3 weeks in a row). And now that it has won Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song at the 75th Golden Globe Awards and 90th Oscars ceremony, the touching animated tale really joins Hollywood’s big league!
Back in May, we took you behind the scenes of the Pixar Animation studios for a rare look at where the magic happens. This time, we continue our journey through their beautiful world of animation with a series of fun to surprising facts you probably didn’t know about the making of Coco.
1 — Flowers with a meaning
Noticed all those vivid orange flower petals ever-present throughout the movie? Their variety wasn’t chosen at random. Called Aztec marigold (a.k.a. the Mexican marigold or the Cempasúchil), the noticeable plant is traditionally used during the Día de Muertos in Mexico to guide the deceased to the living.
2 — Better than Marvel
To honor the culture that inspired Coco, the movie opened in Mexico nearly a month before it did in the rest of the world, where it was such a triumph that it surpassed The Avengers as the country’s highest grossing film!
3 — Six years in the making
Directed by Lee Unkrich, the animated film was in active production between 2011 and 2017, which makes it the Pixar project with the longest production schedule. The studios even had to replace the child actor voicing Miguel (then known as Marco) with Anthony Gonzalez because he had hit puberty in the process…
4 — So touching, it avoided censure
While some themes and content from the movie should have been banned in China, censor board members were so moved by Coco that they decided to make an exception and ignore the rules this time.
5 — Brazilians could have gotten a completely different idea
In Brazil, distributers had to change the title from Coco to Viva for the simple reason that “cocô” there directly translates to “poop” … Obviously Miguel’s great-grandmother whose name is Mamá Coco also needed her name to be adjusted to Mamá Lupita. We wonder just how many people would have actually seen the movie if they didn’t…
6 — Disney learned you can’t copyright an other culture’s holiday
The film was originally going to be named Día de los Muertos. In 2015, during the production, Disney made an attempt to trademark the phrase for marketing purposes, which didn’t please the Mexican American community, who criticized the company for cultural appropriation and exploitation. It only took a week for Disney to give up the idea and change the film’s title to Coco.
7 — You can visit the Land of the Dead (sort of)
According to Lee Unkrich, the Land of the Dead from the movie was inspired by Guanajuato City, a colorful town located in the heart of Mexico the crew came across during their many research trips in the country.
8 — Not any dog breed
Miguel’s dog Dante is a Xoloitzcuintli for the very main reason that it’s the national dog of Mexico! Dante is the second dog to play a major part in a Pixar film alongside a lead character. The very first was ultra-friendly Dug from Up ( “Squirrel!”). His name is a reference to the Italian 13th-century author Dante Alighieri, who wrote the famous Divine Comedy in which the main protagonist (Dante himself) travels to Hell, Purgatory and Heaven.
9 — Pixar is still obsessed with detail
Whenever someone plays guitar in Coco, the on-screen position of their fingers matches real-life chords. To replicate this to perfection, Pixar animators video-recorded musicians by attaching cameras to the tip of their instruments.
10 — Dante has his own short film
Miguel’s hairless clumsy friend Dante was first introduced in a short film called Dante’s Lunch in which the adorable pooch attempts to eat a bone that keeps escaping. You can watch it, below.