Coco is a 2017 American 3D computer-animated fantasy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Based on an original idea by Lee Unkrich, it is directed by him and co-directed by Adrian Molina. The film's voice cast stars Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguía, and Edward James Olmos. The story follows a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who is accidentally transported to the Land of the Dead, where he seeks the help of his deceased musician great-great-grandfather to return him to his family among the living.
The concept for Coco is inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday. The film was scripted by Molina and Matthew Aldrich from a story by Unkrich, Jason Katz, Aldrich and Molina. Pixar began developing the animation in 2016; Unkrich and some of the film's crew visited Mexico for research. Composer Michael Giacchino, who had worked on prior Pixar animated features, composed the score. Coco is the first film with a nine-figure budget to feature an all-Latino principal cast, with a cost of $175–200 million.
Coco premiered on October 20, 2017, during the Morelia International Film Festival in Morelia, Mexico. It was theatrically released in Mexico the following week, the weekend before Día de los Muertos, and in the United States on November 22, 2017. The film was praised for its animation, voice acting, music, emotional story, and respect for Mexican culture. It grossed over $807 million worldwide, becoming the 15th highest-grossing animated film ever and was the 11th highest-grossing film of 2017. Recipient of several accolades, Coco was chosen by the National Board of Review as the Best Animated Film of 2017. The film won two Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song ("Remember Me"). Additionally, it also won the Best Animated Film at the BAFTA Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Critic's Choice Movie Awards, and Annie Awards.
In Santa Cecilia, Mexico, Miguel Rivera is a young boy who dreams of becoming a musician, except his family has long since banned all music. History is told that his great-great-grandmother Imelda was married to a man who left her and their daughter Coco to pursue a career in music, and when he never returned, Imelda banished music from her family's line before starting a shoemaking business.
In 2017, Miguel lives with the elderly Coco and their family, including Miguel's parents and his Abuelita, who is the current matriarch of the Riveras. Miguel is everyday discouraged by his family about singing. He secretly idolizes Ernesto de la Cruz, a famous musician and film star who died in 1942 when a distracted backstage worker accidentally pulled the lever for the performance stage's bell that crushed him and teaches himself to play guitar from Ernesto's old films. On the Day of the Dead, when Miguel attempts to enter a talent show, his Abuelita destroys his makeshift guitar and refuses to speak anything about his great-great grandfather. Dejected, Miguel picks up the damage picture frame that holds a photo of infant Coco with her mother at the center of the family ofrenda, discovering a hidden section of the photograph shows his great-great-grandfather (whose face is ripped out) holding Ernesto's unique guitar. Surmising Ernesto is his great-great-grandfather, a moved Miguel leaves to enter the talent show despite his family's objections.
Breaking into Ernesto's mausoleum, Miguel steals his guitar to use in the show, but once he strums it, a magic chord and he finds himself invisible to everyone in the plaza. However, he can interact with his skeletal dead relatives, who are visiting from the Land of the Dead for the holiday. In the Land of the Dead, the deceased spirits can successfully cross the bridge to visit the Land of the Living during the holiday, only if there's a photo of them on the ofrenda. Taking Miguel back with them, they learn that Imelda couldn't visit, because Miguel removed her photo from the ofrenda. Miguel discovers that due for stealing from the dead he is cursed and must return to the Land of the Living before sunrise, or he will become one of the dead; to do so, he ought to receive a blessing from a considerable member of his family. Imelda offers Miguel a blessing on the condition he renounce his dream of becoming a musician, Miguel refuses and resolves to seek Ernesto's blessing instead. He meets Héctor, a down-on-his-luck skeleton who declares that he knows Ernesto. Héctor offers to help Miguel reach Ernesto in return for Miguel taking his photo back with him, so he might visit his daughter before she forgets him, seeing this is the fate they come to a deal. Frida Kahlo tells them they can access Ernesto's mansion if they win a talent show to be his opening act. To make the plan work, Héctor paints Miguel's face to disguise as a skeleton to blend in and enter the competition to win entry. Acquiring a guitar, Héctor then plays a song to his friend Chicharrón who sadly disappear because he has no remaining living relatives to remember him by. At first, Miguel is nervous, but he manages to receive applause from the crowd by playing "Un Poco Loco", and Héctor gradually joins him in a duet to their fun and joy. But Miguel's family tracks him down. Hearing this, Héctor tried pointing out to Miguel that he mustn't leave his family instead of depending on unacquainted idols, forcing him to flee however.
Just as Miguel is cornered by Imelda, he argues that he won't accept her blessing if she won't let him do something he loves deeply and she wouldn't understand, but she proves him wrong by singing a ranchero ballad. She tells him that she did love music and whenever her husband played it was all she needed, but after they had Coco, their daughter became more important than music. Imelda again tries to manipulate with Miguel, who rejects and runs off, feeling his family will never support his passion. Miguel sneaks into the mansion, where Ernesto welcomes him as his descendant, but Héctor interrupts them, again imploring Miguel to take his photo to the Land of the Living. Ernesto and Héctor renew an argument from their partnership in life. In the confrontation, Héctor reveals Ernesto's songs are actually his in the music industry as Ernesto technically not a songwriter. In 1921, as they toured Mexico together, Héctor became homesick and decided to leave the duo to return to his family but he experienced an untimely death before he could. Miguel prompts Héctor that his death had not been accidental. At that moment, Héctor realize Ernesto had to have poisoned him, then stole his guitar along with his songs, passing them off as his own to become famous. Enraged upon this revelation, Héctor retaliates. To protect his legacy, Ernesto seizes Héctor's photo and has his security guards throw Miguel and Héctor into a cenote pit. There, Miguel is devastated by Ernesto's true colors, and tells Héctor he was right and he should've listened. When Héctor speaks Coco's name, Miguel hands him the torn photograph. The shocked Héctor confirms he is the faceless man holding the guitar, not Ernesto. Miguel realizes Héctor is his real great-great-grandfather, and that Coco is Héctor's daughter. They then rejoice at the revelation of their heritage and pride of being family. Although trapped in the cenote, Imelda and the other Riveras rescue them.
Imelda initially chews out Héctor until Miguel vouches the truth about Héctor's murderer. Héctor starts to fade because Coco is dying. The family infiltrates Ernesto's concert to retrieve Héctor's photo. During the scuffle, Ernesto now sees Miguel a threat to his legacy, and throws him down the building, to the horror of the Riveras. Ernesto's crimes are exposed to the audience when the Riveras broadcast his rantings, who jeer at him as he is thrown out of the stadium by Pepita an Alebrije for all the harm he had done to the Riveras, then crushed by a giant bell in the same manner that he originally died. Pepita has ultimately rescued Miguel. In the chaos, however, Héctor's photo is lost. As the sun rises, Héctor is disappearing and Miguel deforming into an undead; Imelda and Héctor bless Miguel without conditions, so he can return to the Land of the Living. He rushes to Coco's side and locks the door. Coco's Alzheimer's disease makes it hard to recall all. After failing to help Coco remember, a tearful Miguel is comforted by his parents (and even his Abuelita), consoling they are together now. Using Héctor's old guitar, Miguel plays "Remember Me", Coco brightens and sings along with Miguel. She reveals she had saved the torn-off piece of the family photo with Héctor's face on it, then tells her family stories about her father, thus saving his memory as well as his existence in the Land of the Dead. Miguel's family reconciles with him, ending the ban on music.
One year later, Miguel presents the family ofrenda (which now includes the deceased Coco) to his new baby sister Socorro. All the evidence from Coco's collected letters from Héctor prove that Ernesto stole his songs, destroying Ernesto's legacy and allowing Héctor to be rightfully honored in his place. In the Land of the Dead, Héctor and Imelda rekindle their romance, joining Coco for a visit to the living, where Miguel in a mariachi attire disguise sings and plays for his relatives, "Proud Corazón", both living and dead.
- Anthony Gonzalez as Miguel Rivera
- Gael García Bernal as Hector
- Benjamin Bratt as Ernesto de la Cruz
- Renée Victor as Abuelita
- Ana Ofelia Murguia as Mamá Coco
- Edward James Olmos as Chicharrón
Lee Unkrich first pitched an idea for the film in 2010, when Toy Story 3, which he also directed, was released. Initially the film was to be about an American child, learning about his Mexican heritage, while dealing with the death of his mother. Eventually, the team decided that this was the wrong approach and reformed the film to focus on a Mexican child instead. Of the original version, Unkrich noted that it "reflected the fact that none of us at the time were from Mexico."The fact that the film depicted "a real culture" caused anxiety for Unkrich, who "felt an enormous responsibility on [his] shoulders to do it right."
The Pixar team made several trips to Mexico to help define the characters and story of Coco. Unkrich said, "I'd seen it portrayed in folk art. It was something about the juxtaposition of skeletons with bright, festive colors that captured my imagination. It has led me down a winding path of discovery. And the more I learn about [el] Día de los Muertos, the more it affects me deeply." The team found it difficult working with skeletal creatures, as they lacked any muscular system, and as such had to be animated differently from their human counterparts. Coco also took inspiration from Hayao Miyazaki's anime films Spirited Away (2001) and Howl's Moving Castle (2004) as well as the action film John Wick (2014).
In 2013, Disney made a request to trademark the phrase "Día de los Muertos" for merchandising applications. This was met with criticism from the Mexican American community in the United States. Lalo Alcaraz, a Mexican American cartoonist, drew a film poster titled "Muerto Mouse", depicting a skeletal Godzilla-sized Mickey Mouse with the byline "It's coming to trademark your cultura." More than 21,000 people signed a petition on Change.org stating that the trademark was "cultural appropriation and exploitation at its worst." A week later, Disney cancelled the attempt, with the official statement saying that the "trademark filing was intended to protect any title for our film and related activities. It has since been determined that the title of the film will change, and therefore we are withdrawing our trademark filing." In 2015, Pixar hired Alcaraz to consult on the film, joining playwright Octavio Solis and former CEO of the Mexican Heritage Corp. Marcela Davison Aviles, to form a cultural consultant group.
Unkrich found writing the script "the toughest nut to crack". Earlier versions of the film had different universe rules regarding how Miguel (originally called Marco) would get back from the land of the dead; in one case he physically had to run across the bridge. In one version of the story, his family is cursed with singing when trying to speak, which was included as a technique to add music to a story where music is banned. Originally, Lopez and Anderson-Lopez had written many more songs for the film than what ended up in the released version; one piece that survived in storyboard until late into the production was an expository song that explained the Mexican holiday to viewers to begin the film. In another song, Miguel's mother explains the tradition of shoe-making in their family, and how this means he is not allowed to pursue music.
Coco is the first-ever motion picture with a nine-figure budget to feature an all-Latino cast, with a cost of $175–200 million. Gonzalez first auditioned for the role of Miguel when he was nine, and was finalized in the role two years later. Speaking of his character, Gonzalez said: "[Miguel and I] both know the importance of following our dream and we know the importance of following our tradition, so that's something that I connected with Miguel a lot". During the film's pre-production, Miguel was originally set to be voiced by a child named Emilio Fuentes, but was removed from the role after his voice deepened due to puberty over the course of the film's production.
In 2016, the Coco team made an official announcement about the cast, which revealed that Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Renée Victor, and Anthony Gonzalez would voice the characters. Bernal, who voiced Héctor, was "moved" when he realized that Disney-Pixar wanted to make a film on Latin culture. Disney officials closely monitored Bernal's movements and expressions while he voiced the characters and used their input for animating Héctor.
Bratt voiced Ernesto De la Cruz, a character who he described as "the Mexican Frank Sinatra"; "[a] larger than life persona". On the advice of the filmmakers, Bratt watched videos of equivalent Mexican actors including Jorge Negrete and Pedro Infante. Bratt found the character similar to his father in physical appearance, "swagger and confidence", and worked in the film as a tribute to him.
The character Mama Imelda's voice was provided by Alanna Ubach. Ubach felt that the film "is [giving] respect to one quality that all Latin families across the universe do have in common, and that is giving respect and prioritizing the importance of family". Mama Imelda's voice was influenced by Ubach's tía Flora, who was a "profound influence in [her] life". Ubach felt her tía was the family's matriarch, and dedicated the film to her tía.
Unkrich stated that it was a struggle to find a role in the film for John Ratzenberger, who is not Latino but has voiced a character in every Pixar film since Toy Story. As Unkrich did not want to break Pixar's tradition, Ratzenberger was given a minor role with one line.
On April 13, 2016, Unkrich announced that they had begun work on the animation. The film's writer, Adrian Molina, was promoted to co-director in late 2016.
The film's score was composed by Michael Giacchino. Germaine Franco, Adrian Molina, Robert Lopez, and Kristen Anderson-Lopez wrote the songs. Recording for the score began on August 14, 2017. The score was released on November 10, 2017.
Following the 90th Academy Awards ceremony, where “Remember Me” won the award for Best Original Song, the album broke the top 40 on the Billboard 200 charts, jumping from 120 to 39, where it peaked before dropping to 64. In the week of March 8, the Miguel version of "Remember Me" gained 1.58 million plays via online streaming, according to the Nielsen Music.
Marketing and release
The first teaser of Coco was released on March 15, 2017, two days before Disney's Beauty and the Beast opened worldwide. The teaser trailer introduced the basic concept of the film, while highlighting its focus on music. Scott Mendelson of Forbes praised the trailer as "a terrific old-school Pixar sell, mostly consisting of a single sequence and offering just the barest hint of what's to come." The film's themes and imagery drew comparison to another animated film that centered around Día de Muertos, The Book of Life (2014). A two-minute short film, titled Dante's Lunch—A Short Tail, was released online on March 29, 2017. It introduces the film's supporting character, a Xoloitzcuintle named Dante. The short was created early in the animation process by Unkrich and his team to have a better sense of the character.
The first official trailer was released on June 7, 2017, followed by a second trailer on September 13. The film was marketed extensively in Mexico, including traditional wall-painted advertising usually used for local events and never for films. Cinépolis, a movie chain in the country, held a contest for dubbing a character in the film, and another movie chain[which?] held a contest to become an interviewer for the cast and crew of the film.
Coco was released in Mexico on October 27, 2017, the weekend before Día de los Muertos. The film was released in the United States on November 22, 2017, during the Thanksgiving weekend, and three weeks after Día de los Muertos, and in the United Kingdom on January 19, 2018. The film was released in a crowded market, preceded by Thor: Ragnarok, Justice League and another animated film, The Star, and followed by Star Wars: The Last Jedi and another animated film, Ferdinand three weeks after Thanksgiving. It is one of the three Disney film productions being released in the November–December corridor.
Coco is the second Pixar offering of the year, following Cars 3, with 2017 being the second year Pixar released two films, after 2015 (with Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur). The film was accompanied in theaters by Walt Disney Animation Studios' 21-minute featurette Olaf's Frozen Adventure as a limited time offering, featuring the characters from Frozen, making Coco the first Pixar film not to be accompanied by a Pixar short in theaters since their first film, Toy Story, in 1995. The film will also have its own VR game, being Pixar's first VR development.
Coco was released for High Definition online streaming and digital download on February 13, 2018, and on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on February 27, 2018, by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. Coco was available on Netflix streaming in the United States on May 29.
Coco grossed $209.7 million in the United States and Canada, and $597.3 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $807.1 million
United States and Canada
In the United States and Canada, Coco was projected to gross $55–65 million from 3,987 theaters in its first five days, including around $40 million in its opening weekend. It made $2.3 million from Tuesday night previews, landing between Disney's previous two November releases Moana ($2.6 million) and The Good Dinosaur ($1.3 million), and $13.2 million on its first day. It went on to debut to $50.8 million (including a five-day total of $72.9 million), finishing first at the box office. It was the 4th-biggest Thanksgiving opening weekend ever, behind fellow animated films Frozen, Moana and Toy Story 2. In its second weekend, the film dropped by 46% to $27.5 million, a smaller drop than Moana, Frozen, Tangled, and The Good Dinosaur, and again topping the box office. It topped the box office once again in its third weekend, dropping by 33% and grossing $18.5 million, a similar hold to Moana. It became the fourth film of 2017 to top the box office three times, following Split, The Fate of the Furious and The Hitman's Bodyguard, before being overtaken by Disney's own Star Wars: The Last Jedi and another animated film, Ferdinand, in its fourth weekend.
Coco was released in Mexico on October 27, nearly a month before its release in the United States. It grossed $9.3 million on its opening weekend, the biggest opening weekend for an original animated film and the biggest debut for an animated film outside of the summer movie season in the market. In its second weekend, it earned another $10.8 million, a 12% increase over its first weekend, bringing its total to $28 million. It became the fastest ten-day grosser ever for an animated feature in Mexico, as well as the biggest original animated release ever in the territory. It dropped by 23% in its third weekend, grossing $8.4 million. That brought its total to MX$792 million (US$41.4 million), making it the highest-grossing animated film and the second-highest-grossing film of all time in Mexico, behind Disney's own The Avengers, in local currency. A few days later, on November 15, it passed The Avengers to become the highest-grossing film in the Mexican market.
In China, Coco finished number one at the weekend box office, with a three-day total of $18.2 million, making it the second-highest opening ever for a Disney or Pixar animated release in that market, behind Zootopia. After seeing increases each weekday on its first week, the film increased by 148% on its second weekend, bringing its total to $75.6 million in the market. It dropped by 21% in its third weekend, finishing first once again and grossing $35 million.The film fell to number three in its fourth weekend, due to competition from two new domestic releases, grossing an additional $17.1 million. Coco's success in China came as a surprise to most box office analysts who were projecting a gross of $30–40 million. By its second weekend, it had become the highest-grossing Pixar release ever in China, nearly doubling previous record-holder Finding Dory, and by its fifth weekend, it had surpassed Despicable Me 3 to become the second highest-grossing animated movie of all time in the country, behind Zootopia. The movie was released in Japan, its final market, on March 16, 2018. As of May 1, 2018 the film's largest markets were China ($189.2 million), Mexico ($57.8 million), Japan ($41.4 million), France ($33.2 million), United Kingdom ($26.1 million), South Korea ($25.9 million), Spain ($21.4 million), Argentina ($17.6 million), Italy ($14.4 million) and Germany ($12.3 million). It fell to number six in its fifth weekend, due to competition from three new releases—Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Pitch Perfect 3, and The Greatest Showman—despite a small drop again; it grossed $2.8 million on Christmas Day. On the holiday week of December 22–28, the film finished at number six with a gross of $16.3 million, which was 6% up from the previous week, despite losing over 1,000 theaters. It finished at number six in its sixth weekend, going up 39% and 87%, respectively, during the three-day and four-day weekends; it grossed $2.6 million on New Year's Day. It fell outside the top 10 in its eighth weekend (which included Martin Luther King Jr. Day), dropping 38% and 14% respectively, during the three-day and four-day weekends.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 276 reviews, with an average rating of 8.3/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Coco's rich visual pleasures are matched by a thoughtful narrative that takes a family-friendly—and deeply affecting—approach to questions of culture, family, life, and death." It was the site's highest-rated animated film and ninth highest-rated wide release of 2017. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 81 out of 100, based on 48 critics, indicating "universal acclaim." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "A+" on an A+ to F scale, one of fewer than 80 films in the history of the service to receive such a score; it was also the sixth Pixar film to earn the rating – the previous being Up in 2009. It also earned a 95% positive score, including a rare five-out-of-five rating, from filmgoers on PostTrak, along with a 76% "definite recommend".
Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter said, "At every imaginative juncture, the filmmakers (the screenplay is credited to Pixar veteran Molina and Matthew Aldrich) create a richly woven tapestry of comprehensively researched storytelling, fully dimensional characters, clever touches both tender and amusingly macabre, and vivid, beautifully textured visuals." Robert Abele of TheWrap praised the film, saying: "If an animated movie is going to offer children a way to process death, it's hard to envision a more spirited, touching and breezily entertaining example than Coco." In his review for Variety, Peter Debruge wrote, "In any case, it works: Coco's creators clearly had the perfect ending in mind before they'd nailed down all the other details, and though the movie drags in places, and features a few too many childish gags... the story's sincere emotional resolution earns the sobs it's sure to inspire." Debruge also described the film as "[An] effective yet hardly exceptional addition to the Pixar oeuvre." Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com gave the film four out of four, writing that "There's a touch of Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki in the film's matter-of-fact depiction of the dead interacting with the living, as well as its portrayal of certain creatures" such as Dante and Pepita. He concluded his review by stating, "I had some minor quibbles about [Coco] while I was watching it, but I can't remember what they were. This film is a classic."
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone rated the film 3.5 out of four, calling it a "loving tribute to Mexican culture", while praising the animation, vocal performances (particularly of Gonzalez, García Bernal, and Bratt), and its emotional and thematic tone and depth. The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips called the film "vividly good, beautifully animated", praising Giacchino's musical score and the songs, as well drawing a comparison to the emotional tone of Inside Out. A. O. Scott of The New York Times praised the film as "a time-tested tune with captivating originality and flair, and with roving, playful pop-culture erudition", and called the film's cultural vibe "inclusive" and "a 21st-century Disney hallmark". Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times found the film to be "full of life" and deemed it "a bouncy and heart-tugging adventure", while lauding the vocal performances as "fantastic" and "first-rate". Brian Truitt of USA Today described the film as "effervescent, clever and thoughtful," calling it one of "Pixar's most gorgeously animated outings", and "the most musical Pixar film, with a host of catchy tunes". Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger wrote that the backgrounds "have a vibrancy, and its atmosphere carries a warmth. And even after it's done, both linger, just a bit—like a perfectly struck guitar chord".
Coco was nominated for various awards and won a number of them, including several for Best Animated Feature. The song "Remember Me" was particularly praised. At the 75th Golden Globe Awards, it won Best Animated Feature Film while it was nominated for Best Original Song for the song, "Remember Me". It led the 45th Annie Awards with most nominations, garnering thirteen, among them Best Animated Feature, Outstanding Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production, Outstanding Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production, and Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production for Gonzalez. At the 90th Academy Awards, it won the Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. Coco was chosen by the National Board of Review as the Best Animated Film of 2017.
- Coco on IMDb
- Coco at the TCM Movie Database
- Coco at The Big Cartoon DataBase
- Coco at AllMovie
- Coco at Rotten Tomatoes