The Good Dinosaur (lost original version of Pixar animated film; 2011-2013)

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The Good Dinosaur Potential Logo.png

An early version of The Good Dinosaur logo.

Status: Lost

The Good Dinosaur is an animated movie produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures in November 2015. Directed by Peter Sohn and based on a story by Pixar veteran Bob Peterson, the movie takes place in an alternate history of Earth where dinosaurs never went extinct and coexisted with cavemen. Despite being well-received by critics and viewers, the movie underperformed at the box office, making it Pixar’s lowest-grossing movie to date.

The movie is notorious for its troubled development, as it got several revisions halfway through production due to creative difficulties, which ultimately lead to the departure of its original director, Bob Peterson, resulting in several delays, as well the recasting of almost all the actors in the movie.

Background

Bob Peterson was originally set to direct this movie, making it his debut as a solo director, after co-directing 2009’s Up with Pete Docter. Development on the movie started as far back as 2009 and it was officially announced in 2011, under the title "The Untitled Pixar Movie About Dinosaurs", then slated for a November 27th, 2013 release. In April 2012, Pixar moved its release date to May 30th, 2014, with Disney’s Frozen taking over its previous slot. Due to creative differences and problems regarding the screenplay, in summer 2013, Bob Peterson, as well producer John Walker, left the production of the movie, the latter leaving the project to work with longtime collaborator Brad Bird on Tomorrowland.[1]

In August 2013, at the D23 Expo, footage of The Good Dinosaur was shown, depicting both Arlo and Spot, the former being a lot bigger in this early version. The original cast was revealed on that same day. [2]

Producer Denise Ream, who replaced Walker, stated that by the time she joined the production team, Bob Peterson and Peter Sohn were already reworking the script. After Peterson left, Sohn worked extensively on rewriting the entire script throughout the last months of 2013. The revision ultimately delayed the release of the movie to November 25th, 2015. [3] In August 2014, John Lithgow confirmed that the The Good Dinosaur was retooled from the ground up and it required new recording sessions. However, Lithgow’s character, alongside almost every character in the movie, were recast.[4] [5]

Key Changes

While the movie’s concept stood the same, the most notable aspect in The Good Dinosaur’s presentation was Arlo’s size in the original version, in which he was huge right next to Spot. It was later decided that Arlo should be scaled down, for Sohn compared the original version of Arlo to a human whose best friend was a bee. As a result of that, both Arlo and his brothers were de-aged in the final version.[6]

The original script had three storylines, including Arlo’s, one about a village of humans, presumably one where Spot came from, and an unspecified third one, all three of them were too complex to wrap everything together in a coherent narrative. Ultimately the script was stripped down to solely focus on the “boy and his dog” story in order to stay true to Bob Peterson’s original concept.[7]

Casting

Perhaps the most well-known revision of The Good Dinosaur was the casting.

  • Lucas Neff was the original voice actor for Arlo. He was replaced by Raymond Ochoa;
  • John Lithgow was the original voice of Poppa Henry, Arlo’s father. He was replaced by Jeffrey Wright;
  • Arlo’s three siblings were voiced by Neil Patrick Harris, Judy Greer and Bill Hader. They were then cut down to just two siblings, Buck and Libby, voiced by Marcus Scribner and Maleah Padilla, respectively.

Despite having to record new lines for the movie, Frances McDormand was the only actress to retain her role, as Momma Ida, Arlo’s mother.

Availability

Apart from concept art and promotional images, no footage nor the script from Bob Peterson’s version of The Good Dinosaur have surfaced to date. The test footage shown at D23 Expo 2013 remains lost as well.

Gallery

Promotional Art

Concept Art

References