This piece, the lead Artisans story in this week’s Variety, was both complicated and a joy to write. Disney/Pixar always goes to great lengths to find the right score (and often songs) for each of its films, but on Coco they went to extremes. Coco, which opens next week, is set during Mexico’s “Day of the Dead” celebration, and is about a boy who desperately wants to be a musician — something his family is dead-set against. The filmmakers hired the ever-reliable Michael Giacchino (Ratatouille, Up) to compose the score, but added Mexican-American composer Germaine Franco to orchestrate and co-write several of the songs. And they arranged for many of Mexico’s top musicians to perform much of the background music you hear. Oh, and not incidentally, they asked Frozen songwriters Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez to pen a key song heard several times in the movie.
Composer Thomas Newman — whose 13 Oscar nominations include scores for Pixar’s Finding Nemo and WALL-E — has returned to the Disney/Pixar fold for the sequel Finding Dory, which focuses on the sweet blue tang with short-term memory loss (again voiced by Ellen DeGeneres). This time Dory is determined to find her parents, an odyssey that takes her across the ocean to a California aquarium. For a Variety story about Newman’s music, and his third time tackling an animated film directed by Andrew Stanton, I interviewed both composer and director during the recording sessions at Sony and at later mixing sessions at The Village in West L.A.