Riley Andersen is born in Minnesota and within her mind, five personifications of her basic emotions—Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger—gradually come to life and influence her actions via a console in her mind's Headquarters. As she grows up, her experiences become memories, stored in colored orbs, which are sent into long-term memory each night. Her five most important "core memories" (all of which are happy ones) are housed in a hub that each power an aspect of her personality which take the form of floating islands. In Headquarters, Joy acts as a de facto leader to maintain Riley's cheerful childhood, but since she and the other emotions do not understand Sadness' purpose, she frequently tries to keep Sadness away from the console.
At the age of eleven, Riley and her parents move to San Francisco for her father's new business. Riley has poor first experiences: the new house is cramped and old, the moving van with all their belongings is misdirected, her father is under stress from his business, and a poor encounter at a pizza restaurant leaves her disheartened. When Sadness begins touching Riley's happy memories, turning them sad, Joy tries to guard them by isolating her. On Riley's first day at her new school, Sadness accidentally causes Riley to cry in front of her class, creating a sad core memory. Joy, panicking, tries to dispose of it, but accidentally knocks the other core memories loose during a struggle with Sadness, deactivating the personality islands. Joy, Sadness, and the core memories are sucked out of Headquarters, and taken to the maze-like storage area of long-term memory.
The other emotions, Anger, Fear, and Disgust try to maintain Riley's happiness in Joy's absence with disastrous results, distancing her from her parents, friends, and hobbies. As a result, her personality islands gradually begin to crumble and fall, one by one, into the "Memory Dump", an abyss where memories are forgotten. In desperation, Anger inserts an idea into the console prompting Riley to run away, believing that her return to Minnesota will enable her to make new happy core memories.
Joy and Sadness encounter Bing Bong, Riley's childhood imaginary friend, who suggests riding the train of thought back to Headquarters. The three eventually catch the train, but it is halted when Riley falls asleep. They succeed in manipulating Riley's dreams to wake her and restart the train, but it is derailed when the "Honesty Island" collapses (when Riley steals her mother's credit card and begins to run away). In desperation, Joy tries to ride a "recall tube" back to Headquarters, but abandons Sadness since close proximity to Sadness will cause the core memories to turn sad, which Joy believes will hurt Riley. But as she takes off, the ground below the tube collapses, breaking the tube and plunging Joy and Bing Bong into the Memory Dump. At the bottom, Joy then begins to lose hope and breaks into tears and cries, but discovers a sad memory of a hockey game that became happy when Riley's parents and friends comforted her. Joy realizes that Sadness serves an important purpose: to create empathy in others when Riley is emotionally overwhelmed and needs help.
Joy and Bing Bong try to use Bing Bong's old wagon rocket to escape the Memory Dump, but after several tries, Bing Bong realizes their combined weight is too much and jumps out, sacrificing himself to allow Joy to escape. Joy reunites with a despondent Sadness and manages to get them to Headquarters, only to discover that Anger's idea has disabled the console, rendering Riley apathetic. To the surprise of the others, Joy hands control of the console to Sadness, who is able to successfully extract the idea, reactivating the console and prompting Riley to return home.
As Sadness reinstalls the core memories, turning them sad, Riley arrives home to her parents and breaks down crying, confessing that she misses Minnesota. As her parents comfort her, they tell her that they also miss Minnesota and Joy and Sadness work the console together, creating a new core memory that combines their emotions; a new island forms representing Riley's acceptance of her new life in San Francisco. A year later, Riley has adapted to her new home, made new friends, returned to her old hobbies, and adopted a few new ones (fueled by new, more nuanced core memories from combinations of her emotions). Inside Headquarters, her emotions all work together on a new expanded console with room for them all, enabling Riley to lead a more emotionally complex life.
Several of the filmmakers also contributed some voice acting, including director Pete Docter as Father's Anger, and co-writer Ronnie del Carmen as one of the abstract thought mind workers.
As a child, director Pete Docter relocated with his family to Denmark when his father moved to study the music of Carl Nielsen. While his sisters had an easy time adjusting to the new surroundings, Docter felt he was judged constantly by peers. While other kids were interested in sports, Docter sat alone drawing, a hobby that eventually led him to animation. His social anxiety ended by high school.
In late 2009, Docter noticed his pre-teen daughter, Elie, exhibiting similar shyness. "She started getting more quiet and reserved, and that, frankly, triggered a lot of my own insecurities and fears," he said. He imagined what happens in the human mind when emotions set in. The idea to depict it through animation excited Docter, who felt it the ideal form to portray "strong, opinionated, caricatured personalities." He began researching information about the mind, alongside Jonas Rivera, a producer, and Ronnie del Carmen, a secondary director. They consulted Paul Ekman, a well-known psychologist who studies emotions, and Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Ekman had early in his career identified six core emotions—anger, fear, sadness, disgust, joy, and surprise. Docter found surprise and fear to be too similar, which left him with five emotions to build characters around. Other emotions considered for inclusion during the development process were schadenfreude, ennui, pride, and hope. Keltner focused on sadness being an emotion that strengthens relationships. Both emphasized how emotions organize social lives and the structuring of interpersonal interactions.
The smash success of Docter's 2009 film Up encouraged those at Pixar to allow Docter to create another film with a more sophisticated story. Inside Out is the first Pixar film without input from co-founder and former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who died in 2011. In addition, the film did not have as much input from chief creative officer John Lasseter, who was focused on restructuring Walt Disney Animation Studios in Los Angeles at the time of its production. Executives at Disney and Pixar were positive at the proposal of making Inside Out, but acknowledged it would be difficult to market.
Docter recruited a story crew to help develop the film's plot line. Although animation as an industry had been dominated by men, half of the story crew were women, in an attempt to have more diverse input. The choice to focus the film on a girl came from research that claimed that females age 11 to 17 are more attuned to expressions and emotions than others. The idea to have Riley play hockey came from Del Carmen, who observed that the sport is very popular in Minnesota. They tried to stray away from stereotypically feminine interests, such as the color pink or dresses. Initial ideas for the film found the main character, Riley, falling into a deep depression: Docter later felt they were inappropriate and scrapped them, although in the final film Riley does sink into a depression.
The film was first storyboarded over a period of two to three years, all the while undergoing screenings for Pixar's "Brain Trust," a small group of creative leaders at Pixar who oversee development on all films. After multiple screenings and suggestions from other filmmakers, the picture was put into production. It was again evaluated three months into that process. Kevin Nolting, editor of the film, estimated there were seven versions of Inside Out created before it even went into production. The story team attempted to create as much contrast with characters as possible. They found Joy the most complex character to write for, as she illustrates a broad range of "happy feelings." The earliest idea present in the final film is that Joy holds onto youth too long, setting about a "social storm" for Riley. It was not until several screenings later that they came upon the concept of moving to a new place, which created an external conflict that made the story easier to write. Initially, this crisis was to be set at a Thanksgiving Day pageant, in which Riley was hoping to be cast as its lead role, the turkey. Docter later deemed this idea too "bizarre" and it was replaced.
Docter estimated it took four years of development for the film to achieve success in marrying the architecture of Riley's mind and her personal troubles. The concept of "personality islands" helped develop the film's emotional stakes, as they directly affect events inside her mind and in her life. In one draft, the characters fell into "Idea Fields," where they would "cultivate new ideas," much like a farmer would cultivate crop. The character of Bing Bong—a discarded old imaginary friend—came about in one draft of the film as part of a refugee camp inside Riley's mind. It was difficult to achieve the correct tone for the film; for example, viewers could not be distracted by Joy's nature or feel negative about the mess she helps steer Riley into. Rivera credited the casting of Amy Poehler, in addition to the idea of moving, with helping the film find the right tone.
An early version of the film focused on Joy and Fear getting lost together, as it seemed to be the most humorous choice. By July 2012, the project was set for an evaluation screening with other Pixar filmmakers. Docter gradually began to feel that the story was not working, which made him think that he might get fired. He took a long walk one Sunday, where he began to consider himself a failure, and that he should resign from the film. While pondering what he would miss about Pixar, he concluded that he would miss his coworkers and friends most of all. He soon reached a breakthrough: that emotions are meant to connect people together, and that relationships are the most important things in life. He decided to replace Fear with Sadness, which he felt is crucial to renewal. He met with Rivera and Del Carmen that night to explain his change of plans, and to his surprise, they reacted positively to it. At the screening, he informed his superiors that new plans for the film were in order. Although it was a "scary moment", the film remained in production.
Screenwriter Michael Arndt initially worked for a year on the film's script, calling it "both a brilliantly creative idea but also incredibly challenging," but left the project in early 2011, adding that "knowing the Pixar process, there may not be a single word [I wrote] that remains in the final script! They've had writers work on it since then." Josh Cooley and Meg LeFauve were credited as co-writers of the screenplay following their contributions during the rewrite. Like Docter, Cooley and LeFauve included experiences with raising their own children into the screenplay. Cooley said "... we treated the emotions like parents for Riley and because all of us in the writing room are parents ourselves, we just reflected on our own experiences as parents to create the characters." Despite his departure, Arndt received an 'Additional Story Material' credit.
The film's voice cast of emotions, Amy Poehler, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, and Phyllis Smith, were first announced in August 2013. With the release of the film's trailer in December 2014, it was revealed that Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan were cast in the film as Riley's parents.
Hader, who had previously cameoed in Monsters University, was cast to voice Fear, a role that he felt he "weaseled" his way into by being a "huge fan" of Pixar's filmography. Hader toured the studio over a week, and also "helped out" in the story room. He was invited to play Fear by the end of his stay there, but was also asked to contact fellow Saturday Night Live (SNL) veteran Amy Poehler, whom the team viewed as perfect for the character of Joy. "They said: 'Would you mind calling Amy? We don't want to call her and have her think we're some weirdo,'" he recalled. He phoned Poehler and explained the story to her, noting that her role would be the driving force in the film. When the story was pitched to Kaling, she broke down in tears, explaining "I just think it's really beautiful that you guys are making a story that tells kids that it's difficult to grow up and it's OK to be sad about it."
Smith was chosen by Rivera while he was watching Bad Teacher and saw her in a lunch scene. He called Docter and said "I think we found our Sadness." As the film contains several veterans of SNL, the film's team spent a week at that program for research on a live television sequence.
Richard Kind, who had previously starred in A Bug's Life, the Cars series, and Toy Story 3, portrayed Bing Bong. Kind tried to convey the same "sort of innocence" of his previous Pixar roles, and wound up not taking part in pre-release promotion as the producers decided to keep the character a secret.
The film's art design is intended to reflect 1950s Broadway musicals. Docter imagined that with emotions for characters, they could "push the level of caricature both in the design and in the style of movement to degrees [they'd] never done before." To this end, they emulated animators Tex Avery and Chuck Jones. Docter informed supervising animators Shawn Krause and Victor Navone to push the graphic caricature of each character rather than sticking to the rigid behavior of each RenderMan model. This required an artist to draw over characters in the film during dailies, using a Wacom Cintiq. One of the first scenes the team worked on was the dinnertime scene, in which viewers rapidly switch between the real world and Headquarters inside the family's minds.
In envisaging how the mind's interior would be depicted, the filmmakers concentrated on the word electrochemical; Ralph Eggleston, the film's production designer, explained, "It meant thinking of things as energy or energy-based, excitable." Each emotion has a glowing, "effervescent quality" to them (particularly Joy), which was difficult to animate as it could be viewed as distracting. "The characters are created with this energy because we are trying to represent what emotions would look like. They are made up of particles that actually move. Instead of being skin and solid, it is a massive collection of energy," Docter remarked. The team worked for eight months on Joy's "sparkly" aura, but was prepared to delete it, as it would affect the film's budget. However, Lasseter requested that it be applied for each emotion. "You could hear the core technical staff just hitting the ground, the budget falling through the roof," recalled Eggleston.
The film is localized to accommodate international audiences: in the Japanese version, for example, Riley is disgusted by green bell peppers, rather than by broccoli (the only topping offered by the local pizzeria), to reflect the fact that broccoli is generally less undesirable to Japanese children.
Michael Giacchino composed the film's score; this was his fifth collaboration with Pixar and his second collaboration with Docter after Up. The producers first met with Giacchino to explain the film's concept and screen it for him. In response, he composed an eight-minute suite of music, unconnected to the film, based on his emotions viewing it. Rivera noted that while both Giacchino and Docter were musicians, they discussed the film in terms of story and character.
Walt Disney Records released the soundtrack on June 16, 2015.Track listing
All music composed by Michael Giacchino.
Inside Out was first announced in August 2011 at the D23 Expo. In December 2012, Bleeding Cool reported the title of the film would be The Inside Out, while ComingSoon.net reported it would be Inside Out the following February. In April 2013, Disney officially announced the title on Twitter as Inside Out, during CinemaCon. Prior to its release, the film underwent a test screening for children, due to concerns from executives that it would be too complex for younger audiences—a fear quelled when the audience reacted positively to the picture.
The film premiered on May 18, 2015, at the 68th Cannes Film Festival, in an out-of-competition screening. In the United States, it premiered on June 8, 2015, at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, and received a wide theatrical release starting on June 19, 2015, in 2D, 3D, and select IMAX 3D theatres. It was the first animated movie to be released in Dolby Vision format in Dolby Cinema and the second for Disney following Tomorrowland. Also notable was the fact that it was one of two feature films (the other being The Good Dinosaur) released by Pixar in the same calendar year, a first for the company.
A short animated film, titled Lava, accompanied Inside Out during its theatrical release. This musical love story was directed by James Ford Murphy and produced by Andrea Warren. The story was inspired by the isolated beauty of tropical islands and the explosive allure of ocean volcanoes, and takes place over millions of years.
On June 18, 2015, Skype added faces of the five "emotions" of the film as emoticons available for use in its IM service for the next three months, later leaving them as standard.
Inside Out was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on Blu-ray (2D and 3D) and DVD on November 3, 2015, while a digital release was released on October 13, 2015. The Pixar's theatrical short, Lava, was included. A short film set in the world of Inside Out, titled Riley's First Date?, and directed by Josh Cooley, the head of story on the film, was included exclusively in the Blu-ray and the digital release.
An Inside Out play set featuring all five emotions as playable characters was made available for Disney Infinity 3.0.
A mobile game, Inside Out: Thought Bubbles, was released on June 18, 2015 by Disney Mobile Games on Apple App Store, Google Play, Amazon Appstore, Windows Store and Windows Phone Store. Playing as Riley's emotions, players have to match and sort memory bubbles through 485 levels (as of May 2016) inspired by the film's locations.
Inside Out grossed $356.5 million in the USA & Canada and $501.1 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $857.6 million against a budget of $175 million. Deadline.com calculated the net profit of the film to be $279.51 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues for the film.
Worldwide, it is the seventh-highest-grossing film of 2015 (placing second among animated films behind only Minions), the fourth-highest-grossing Pixar film, and the thirteenth-highest-grossing animated film of all time.
Inside Out opened across 3,946 theaters in the United States and Canada, of which 3,100 showed the film in 3D. It grossed $3.7 million during its Thursday night showings. This was a record among Pixar films that had Thursday night showings, but behind Toy Story 3's $4 million midnight showing. The film then earned $34.3 million on its opening day, which is the third largest opening day for a Pixar film behind Toy Story 3 ($41.1 million) and Finding Dory ($54.7 million). It ended its opening weekend in second place with $90.4 million, behind the second weekend gross of dinosaur thriller Jurassic World ($106.6 million). Although it was Pixar's first film not to debut at No. 1, its opening weekend gross was still the biggest for a Pixar original film (breaking The Incredibles' record), the studio's third biggest of all time (behind Finding Dory and Toy Story 3), the biggest weekend debut for a film that did not debut at No. 1 (breaking The Day After Tomorrow's record), and the top opening for any original film, live-action or otherwise, not based on sourced material, eclipsing the $77 million debut of Avatar (overtaken by The Secret Life of Pets). The film's successful opening has been attributed to its Cannes premiere, CinemaCon press screening, its 98% Rotten Tomatoes score, good word-of-mouth, Father's Day weekend, and a successful Tuesday night Fathom screening. In its second weekend, the film fell by 42% to $52.3 million and still held the second spot behind Jurassic World; the rest of the week saw it slightly ahead of the latter. Inside Out reached the No. 1 spot at the box office in its third weekend with $29.8 million. Overall, IMAX contributed 10% or $36 million (as of September 4, 2015) of its total North American revenue.
It ended up grossing a total of $356.5 million and became the third-highest-grossing Pixar film (behind Finding Dory and Toy Story 3), the fourth-highest-grossing film of 2015, the ninth-highest-grossing animated film of all time (the highest of 2015), and the 35th-highest-grossing film of all time.
Outside North America, the film earned an estimated $40.3 million on its opening weekend from 37 countries, which is 42% of the entire international market. Its largest openings were recorded in China ($11.7 million); the UK, Ireland and Malta ($11.4 million); Mexico ($8.6 million), Russia and the CIS ($7.6 million), Italy ($7.4 million), Germany ($7.1 million), and South Korea ($5.1 million). In total earnings, its largest markets outside the U.S. and Canada are the United Kingdom ($58.1 million), South Korea ($31.7 million), and Mexico ($31 million). It became the highest-grossing Disney animated or Pixar film of all time in Mexico (ahead of Frozen), the Philippines (ahead of Big Hero 6), India, and Ukraine and in Russia, it is the second-highest-grossing Disney or Pixar film and the first Pixar film to exceed one billion rubles.
Inside Out received universal critical acclaim. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 98%, based on 324 reviews, with a rating average of 8.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Inventive, gorgeously animated, and powerfully moving, Inside Out is another outstanding addition to the Pixar library of modern animated classics." The film also topped the site's Top 100 Animation Movies list and occupies the third highest position of a film released in the 21st century on the Top 100 Movies of All Time list at number 8. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a score of 94 out of 100, based on 55 critics, indicating "universal acclaim." In CinemaScore polls, cinema audiences gave Inside Out an average score of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Prior to its release, there was concern among the general public that Pixar films were declining in quality, with an over-reliance on sequels. Likewise, DreamWorks Animation was beginning to flounder in the early 2010s as several films performed below expectations at the box office, leading to speculation that the "genre" of computer animation was "in a funk." Inside Out has been hailed as a return-to-form for Pixar by numerous film critics.
Following an advance screening at CinemaCon on April 22, 2015, the film was well received by audiences. Praise was aimed for its smart storyline, although some wondered whether the concept was too complicated for young audiences and to attract family crowds. After premiering at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, the film attracted praise from film critics. Peter Debruge of Variety was effusive, calling it the studio's "greatest idea" and "a stunningly original concept that [...] promises to forever change the way people think about the way people think." The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips called it the studio's best since Up (also directed by Docter), a "consistently inventive and a heartening corrective to recent, stockholder-driven inferiorities." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter deemed it an "audacious concept" that stands among the most "conceptually trippy films" for family audiences. "With its quite literally cerebral bent, I think Inside Out might have some trouble fully connecting with younger kids, but grown-ups are likely to shed more than a few tears," remarked Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair. The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw felt it "buoyant and sweet-natured," though slightly inferior to Pixar's best. Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club, while overall positive on the film, said it "trades the wordless gracefulness and sense of discovery of the animation studio's best work for explanatory voice-over and nonstop exposition," also arguing that the Pixar animators could have been more visually adventurous to match the conceptual ambition.
As the film went into wide release, it continued to attract acclaim. Aside from naming it the best film of 2015, Kristopher Tapley of HitFix called it as "one of the best films of the 21st century." A. O. Scott of The New York Times deemed the film "an absolute delight," reserving particular praise for its "defense of sorrow, an argument for the necessity of melancholy dressed in the bright colors of entertainment." The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday considered it "that rare movie that transcends its role as pure entertainment to become something genuinely cathartic, even therapeutic, giving children a symbolic language with which to manage their unruliest emotions." Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times found it "bold, gorgeous, sweet, funny, [and] sometimes heartbreakingly sad," deeming it one of the best films of the year. Entertainment Weekly's Chris Nashawathy extolled it as "transcendent and touching [...] so smart and psychologically clever." Time's Mary Pols felt it a "nearly hallucinogenic, entirely beautiful" work that "defies the conventions of family movies." Christopher Orr of The Atlantic urged readers to view the picture, calling it "Pixar once again at the top of its game, telling the kind of thoughtful, moving meta-story it's hard to imagine being produced anywhere else." Wai Chee Dimock in the Los Angeles Review of Books compared the film to the work of neuroscientists Antonio Damasio, Dacher Keltner, and Oliver Sacks. Betsy Bozdech of Common Sense Media gave the movie 5 stars, stating that ""Inside Out" is creative, clever, heartfelt, and beautifully animated."
Inside Out received fifteen Best Picture, twenty-one Best Original Screenplay, and forty Best Animated Feature nominations from over 50 different organizations and associations. It won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay at the 88th Academy Awards held in 2016. It received ten out of fourteen Annie Awards at the 43rd Annie Awards, including Outstanding Achievement in Directing in an Animated Feature Production for Docter, Outstanding Achievement in Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production for Smith and Best Animated Feature. The American Film Institute selected Inside Out as one of the Top Ten Films of the Year.
The film received the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film at the 73rd Golden Globe Awards. It received three Critics' Choice Movie Award nominations including the win for Best Animated Feature. The New York Film Critics Circle awarded Inside Out for Best Animated Film and it was named Film of the Year by National Board of Review with also winning Best Animated Film. The film was runner-up for Best Animated Film at Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards and at San Diego Film Critics Society Awards. It received four nominations from Satellite Awards including Best Original Screenplay, Best Animated or Mixed Media Feature, and Best Original Score. It took the Satellite Award for Best Animated or Mixed Media Feature. The film won the award for Best Animated Film at the 69th British Academy Film Awards in London, England, and was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay (losing to Spotlight). The film also received a Robert Award for Best American Film nomination and a David di Donatello for Best Foreign Film nomination, the Danish and Italian equivalent of the Academy Awards respectively.
On June 24, 2015, when asked if there are plans for a possible sequel, Pete Docter replied, "There's no sequel idea from me at this point," adding, "Never say never." On January 14, 2016, Docter stated that a sequel is possible, and that he and Pixar will explore ideas, saying: "We'll see if anything turns up. To me it's not as simple as: 'We liked it, so let's make another one.' What happens is you design these characters not so much looks-wise but as they are as characters and people for a story. So we'll explore it and see what happens." In a July 2016 interview, Pixar president Jim Morris said that while demand for a sequel is high, the company has committed its resources to several original movie concepts from June 7, 2019 onward, and that no sequels to any of Pixar's other films including Inside Out were being contemplated at this time.
On June 20, 2017, a woman named Denise Daniels accused Disney and Pixar for stealing an idea from her creation The Moodsters for this movie.