Monsters University is Pixar's fourteenth feature length film, and the prequel to the 2001 film Monsters, Inc. It was directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae. John Goodman and Billy Crystal returned for the film. Randy Newman returned to compose the film's score. The film was released in theatres and 3D on June 21, 2013. This marks the first prequel Pixar has ever produced. The film was accompanied by a short film titled The Blue Umbrella. Monsters University was released in the UK on July 12, 2013.
Monsters University tells the story of how Mike and Sulley met and became friends while they attended Monsters University's "School of Scaring."
During a field trip to the Monsters, Inc. factory, the friendless 6-year-old Mike Wazowski is forced to walk with his teacher Karen Graves. When the class visits the Scare Floor, the children roar at the Scarers to show their skills. Superstar Scarer Frank McCay tells them that he studied Scaring by going to Monsters University, despite another Scarer claiming that Fear Tech is better; Frank says that MU is really the better school. Mike is forced behind his taller classmates; as a result, he cannot see the Scarers. However, he manages to sneak in the Scare Floor and follow Frank to the door he is about to open. As soon as Frank enters the child's room, Mike follows and secretly looks at Frank sneaking to the bed and avoiding the child's parents by pretending to be a piece of clothing. When the parents go away, Frank sneaks up to the child and scares him. After getting out of the door, Frank tells Mike how dangerous his actions were, but is also impressed with him since he didn't know he was in the room. He gives Mike his MU cap and winks at him. When Karen asks Mike what he has to say to defend himself, he simply asks, "How do I become a Scarer?"
We then switch 11 years later to a bus about to stop at Monsters University, where a 17-year-old Mike says farewell to the other monsters in the bus, but creeps them out due to the facts he knows about them. Mike arrives at MU and is extremely excited. After taking a picture for his ID card and visiting the school, he finally goes to his room, meets and befriends his roommate, the nerdy and shy Randall "Randy" Boggs, who has trouble controlling his invisibility power. When Randy suddenly disappears while greeting his new friend, Mike is impressed and tells Randy to use it more, to Randy's shock. Randy soon gets rid of his glasses under Mike’s suggestion because they don’t turn invisible when he does. While Randy is worried about not being able to impress the cool kids, Mike is laid back and confident in his scaring abilities.
At their first day of class, Mike, Randy and the other students are greeted by the orange, dinosaur-like Professor Knight, who teaches Scaring 101. When Professor Knight explains how the class will go, the dean of the school, the dragon-like, millipede-legged Abigail Hardscrabble - a legendary Scarer - drops in on the class unexpectedly. Her belief is that scariness is the true measure of a monster, letting them know how high her expectations are. She explains that there will be a final exam at the end of the semester, and failure will result in being kicked out of the program. After she leaves, an 18 year old student arrives late, James P. Sullivan, a natural Scarer. Despite having a lot of potential, Sulley never studies and always forgets his pencils and books whenever he goes to class.
Later that day, while Mike is studying scaring, Sulley breaks into his room to get back Archie the scare pig, rival college Fear Tech’s mascot. Mike ends up riding Archie after the pig stole his MU cap. Mike stops the pig, but Sulley gets the credit for it, attracting the attention of many fraternities, including Omega Howl and Jaws Theta Chi, but the top fraternity, Roar Omega Roar, gets Sulley's attention. While Roar Omega Roar’s president, Johnny Worthington III, talks to Sulley, Mike tries to get their attention and follow them to a party, but is stopped by the purple, one-eyed, crab-like Chet Alexander. Sulley tells Mike that the party is for scare students who “have a chance” after Mike says that he is indeed, a scare student. This event in particular causes an intense rivalry between the two. Mike studies hard and impresses Professor Knight, while Sulley's laziness costs him the respect of both Professor Knight and the RORs.
The day of the Final Exam arrives, and Johnny threatens to kick Sulley out of ROR if he fails the exam. Each student must perform the appropriate scare tactic assigned to each mock child using a scare simulator set to its medium setting. Roar Omega Roar watches from the back of the lecture hall and Sulley sees Mike studying. In order to antagonize him, Sulley pushes Mike's books off his desk, causing the two to argue. Mike begins to roar at Sulley, to show him what he's capable of. Unimpressed, Sulley roars back. That goes on until they gain the attention of Dean Hardscrabble. Suddenly, Sulley trips over one of Mike's books and stumbles into Dean Hardscrabble's scare can. It dropped to the floor and broke open, rocketing all over the room, getting damaged beyond repair. Strangely enough, Hardscrabble acts quite calm about it, then dismisses it as an accident, and she continues the exams, taking over Mike and Sulley's tests herself. She asks Mike to inform her which scare would be used for a child afraid of lightning, he remembers the scare tactic perfectly but Hardscrabble dismisses him before he can even try. When she is about to test Sulley, he just roars at her, without letting her finish declaring the task. He claims that he doesn't need to know any of that "stuff" to scare a child. Hardscrabble informs him "that stuff" would've informed him that the child was afraid of snakes, and his roar wouldn't have made it scream; instead it would cry, alerting the parents and possibly exposing the monster world to the humans. Because of his sheer arrogance, Hardscrabble dismisses Sulley from the program. Hardscrabble then fails Mike because she believes he's not scary. Instead of becoming Scarers, Mike and Sulley join the extremely boring Scream Can Design school where Sulley is visibly angry at Mike.
Mike is so upset that his dream of being in the Scare Program has ended so soon, that he throws his book at the wall knocking down his calendar revealing a poster of the "Scare Games". That gives him the idea for getting out of his misery. He runs out his dorm room, past an angry Sulley who follows him. The sign-up for the Scare Games is nearing a close as the school gathers to listen to Hardscrabble explaining how to win the games you must be the "most fearsome monsters on campus!". Just before the end of the sign-up, Mike stands up on a car and shouts out his sign up for his new fraternity - Oozma Kappa! Everyone breaks out in a laugh as Oozma Kappa isn't really the scariest group of monsters on campus. Hardscrabble doesn't think Mike stands a chance, so he baits her into a wager: if OK wins, they must be allowed into the Scaring Program. She agrees, but also tells Mike that if they lose, he will leave Monsters University. And she also tells him there must be six members to join the games, and they only have five, as the rules of the games only count bodies as team-members, and so the two-headed monster Terri and Terry count only as one. Mike asks Randall to join Oozma Kappa, but he finally became part of the cool guys at Roar Omega Roar and he warns Mike to not mess that up. Sensing an opportunity Sulley decides to join OK. With no one else willing to join and desperate to get back into the Scare program, Mike reluctantly agrees.
The Oozma Kappa house turns out be that of Squishy's mother. It looks nothing like the usual fraternity houses. The monsters introduce themselves in the living room: Don, a mature student who was unlucky in his sales business and decided to return to school. Art, a flamboyant and laidback philosophy major who gives Mike and Sulley a "dream journal". Terri and Terry Perry, who share one body, and Squishy, an "unwelcomed" little guy with five eyes. Mike and Sulley look at each other as the guys are estactic to have new brothers. Later that night, Mike and Sulley find out they will be sharing a very small room together. The other OKs turn the power off and host an initiation in the basement, which is supposed to be spooky but is shortly interrupted by Squishy's mother, Sheri, who is doing laundry in the back room. The next day a letter from the Scare Games arrive, announcing the first challenge of the game: The Toxicity Challenge.
Each challenge of the Scare Games represents a part of the job of a future Scarer. In the Toxicity Challenge, the players must simultaneously race through a tunnel and avoid toxic stinging, glowing urchin-like balls that were produced by the Biology department, just as a Scarer has to avoid toxic toys and clothes and other belongings in a children's room. And because Scarers work in the night, the lights in the tunnel are turned off. Mike and Sulley immediately take their rivalry to the starting line. Roar Omega Roar comes in first, but although Mike and Sulley (still fighting with each other) come shortly after, OK gets eliminated, because the whole team is required to cross the finish line. Mike is heartbroken and Hardscrabble tells Mike it would've taken a miracle to keep them in the games. At the very last moment, the JOX fraternity is found to have cheated by using illegal protective gel and is disqualified, miraculously allowing Oozma Kappa to stay in the games in their place.
Oozma Kappa is joyfully celebrating that they somehow survived the first round. Mike knows they have to work as a team from now on to stay in the Games. Mike tries to gather the talents of his team mates, but outside of Terry and Terri's cheap magic tricks and Don's annoying suckers, he doesn't get much. So he decides to take full responsibility over the team and anyone else is just supposed to do exactly what he does. Sulley has no confidence in Mike's leadership or his team and walks off.
The next challenge of the Scare Games starts. This time, the players have to sneak through the MU library, without getting caught by the librarian: a giant slug-like old monster with poor eyesight and very good ears and a very scary appearance, who will attack and throw out anybody who does the smallest noise. The aim for every team is to snatch a flag with their symbol on it, much like a Scarer has to reach their child without getting caught by their parents. The team is just thoughtlessly following Mike, until Sulley's impatience gets the better of him and he charges toward their flag, causing a ladder to break off its rails and falls hard. The librarian moves toward Sulley, then the other OKs start to make noises to distract her, which is legal since the only condition to advance is to avoid getting caught. While all of them finally escape the library, Squishy was able to steal the flag, because he is very good at sneaking about unnoticed, something Mike totally overlooked. The EEK team on the other hand, isn't so lucky; they are grabbed by the librarian, thrown out of the library and eliminated.
In the night after the second round, Oozma Kappa is surprisingly invited to a Scare Games-mid mixer party for the Top Scarers of the campus in the ROR's house. While the rest of his team is enjoying the party, Mike admires the Scare Games trophy and his reflection in it, fascinated by the fact that he is so close at getting everything he always dreamed about. Johnny Worthington III then holds a speech and greets his fellow contestants, but when he comes to the OKs, he just mocks them and Randall, again betraying his former friend Mike for the cool guys, activates a trap that douses them with colorful paint, confetti, flowers and stuffed animals to make them look foolish.
The next day, the OKs see that the whole campus is overflown with pictures of their humiliation of the previous day. Mike isn't willing to give up yet, but Sulley angrily says that they need to stop trying since he thinks that no amount of training will help them. The rest of the team, while grateful to Mike, doesn't have faith in themselves. Mike then gets an idea. He persuades his fellows to follow him on a secret night field trip to the Monsters, Inc. - in which they break in. Through a window, Mike shows the OKs the Scare Floor where his dream of becoming a Scarer has started. He explains that all the Scarers are different like they are - some have too many heads like Terry and Terri, some are older than the rest like Don. That impresses even Sulley, and he and Mike are starting to warm up for each other, because they share the same dream and the same fascinations. But then, the OKs are detected by the security and barely escape.
With fresh confidence, the OKs are training hard for the next round. Mike and Sulley have learned to stand each other. While Mike is starting to see the real potential of his team, Sulley starts to accept his strategies. They receive the letter for the next challenge of the Scare Games, where they have to race through a maze and scare pictured children, but hide from from pictures of teenagers, who while similar to children and equally toxic, aren't so easily scared. This time, the OKs master the challenge without any luck and with pure skills, and they finish in second place just after the RORs (PNK is eliminated in the event, as they scared the teenagers and got boxed in). They repeat their exploit at the next challenge of the Scare Games, where they have to hide in a fraternity house from security, in the same way a Scarer has to hide from children's parents (HSS is eliminated). The OKs and the RORs are the last two contestants for the big final. Dean Hardscrabble talks to Sulley and shows her respect for him, but notes that the team will still lose, for she knows there is at least one monster in his team who's not scary enough - meaning Mike. Sulley defends him, saying that Mike works harder than anyone else for that. She asks him if he thinks Mike is scary. Sulley can't answer.
In the night before the great finale, Sulley thanks him for all the work he has put into the team. He then decides to do something for him and gives him scare tutoring. He shows him his scare-techniques, but soon gives it up, after seeing what an amateur he is, without letting him know. Secretly, he's starting to agree with Hardscrabble about Mike's unscariness.
The Final Challenge of the Scare Games arrive. The champions Roar Omega Roar versus the underdog-surprise Oozma Kappa. The both contestants have to battle each other in the Scare-Simulator-Challenge, where one by one, every monster of each team has to enter their Scare-Simulator, read and interpret the mock child-information, choosing a scare-technique and then scare the dummy as much as they can, on the highest difficulty level. The team that reaches the most combined scream-energy wins the challenge and the Scare Games. Before the challenge starts, Mike discusses his strategy with his team. He wants to go in first, but Sulley wants to give Mike the honor of finishing the Scare Games for them, because he was one who started it. Mike is pleased and agrees to go in last, right after Sulley. Don makes the start and makes good use of his suckers. Surprisingly he outscores his opponent. Terry and Terri create the appearance of human body to scare in the act, Art that uses his flexibility to move around the room and even Squishy that uses his eyes to create something similar to a zombie face. ROR has a slight lead by the fifth round, in which Sulley faces Randall. Sulley has learned and studies the mock child-info, before he goes in. In addition to his usual roar he stomps the floor hard and produces a small earth-quake. He score's very high, while in the other simulator, Randall is knocked off the wall, causing his uncontrolled camouflage ability to take the color of the child room carpet - a very bright pink with tiny hearts on it. Because of his rather neat than scary looks, his score is rather low and when he comes out of the simulator, Randall gets mocked by his fellow RORs. Randall swears that he'll one day take revenge on Sullivan for this humiliation - setting the stage for their upcoming rivalry in Monsters, Inc.
Mike faces Johnny in the final round. Johnny is certain - even though OK made it this far - that Mike doesn't belong there and he's already lost. The both of them make it across the room with great skill. Johnny generates a high score, meaning that Mike will have to pull off a record breaking scare. For Mike, the moment of truth has arrived. The memories of all the scorn and derision he got over his life raced through Mike's head, then he hears Sulley's encouragement from last night. Mike unleashes a mighty scare that makes the dummy scream as loud as it can and generates the highest score possible. Mike can't believe it, but the audience is amazed and jubilates for him. Against all expectations and to everybody's surprise, the Oozma Kappas won the Scare Games. Joyfully Mike holds the Scare Game trophy for the OK's.
OK is in the stadium taking pictures with other students while Mike stands in front of the simulator, overjoyed that he will be a scarer, that is, until he playfully gives the dummy a last little scare, getting him a perfect score again. Even snapping his fingers causes the same reaction. Mike checked the settings of the simulator. He found out that the difficulty-controller for the other scarings were on the highest level as they should be, but the last one - Mike's controller - was on the easiest. It dawns on Mike that Sulley changed the setting. Mike accuses him of doing it for himself and of being like everyone else for thinking he's not scary enough. Sulley lets it slip that he doesn't believe Mike has what it takes. A heartbroken and angry Mike walks away, as does the rest of OK, leaving behind the trophy they no longer deserve.
Sulley walks through campus with the trophy being praised by the other students. ROR approaches him and welcome him back, but he declines, leaving the trophy with Johnny and goes to talk with Hardscrabble. Meanwhile, Mike waited in front of the Door Manufacturer Laboratories, after he has listened to a girl who has worked the whole semester on a door that is about to get shredded tomorrow, because it is too dangerous. Without knowing what that means, Mike skillfully steals the key card for the laboratory and breaks in. Sulley confesses to Hardscrabble that he cheated and takes full responsibility for his actions. Hardscrabble is outraged and wants him off campus by tomorrow, but then an alarm sounds, signaling a break-in at the door labs. Mike has locked himself in the lab, activating the door and enters the Human World.
Mike sneaks out of the wardrobe and finds a little girl sleeping. His nervous roar only wakes the girl up. Sleepy, the girl sees Mike and says, "You look funny." This wakes another girl up, who's sleeping in the same room. To his horror, Mike finds out that he isn't in a children's room. He is inside the girl's sleeping bungalow of a Summer Camp - filled with poisonous girls that find him and his scare-attempts funny and cute and badly want to touch him.
Meanwhile, in the Monster World, Sulley and Hardscrabble hurry into the Door Manufacturer Laboratories. Hardscrabble hears, that some monster went through the door and commands to cordon off the door until the Child Detection Agency is on scene. Sulley knows that it was Mike who went through the door and he cannot let his friend get stranded in the Human World. Don creates a distraction for Sulley to enter the door against Hardscrabble's warnings. There he finds an empty bungalow - no sight of Mike. But through a window he can see the emergency lights of a police car and an amazed bunch of girls that described to the adults an alien, that entered their room and fled into the forest. Sulley decides to follow Mike's traces and runs also into the forest, but not without getting glimpsed by the policemen. Mistaking him for a bear, they hunt Sulley into the forest, but he is able to shake them off. He then finds Mike sitting at the shore of a lake, hidden behind rowboats. Mike laments his inability to scare the girls, as well as his efforts to become a Scarer and prove he was special being for nothing. Sulley tells him he knows how he feels. This angers Mike since monsters like Sulley can screw up and still be loved by everyone and he was born a Sullivan. Sulley admits he is also a failure because he is a Sullivan who flunked every test, the one who got kicked out of the program, and he was so afraid to let everyone down that he cheated and he lied. Sulley acts scary yet has been terrified all this time. He never admitted this to Mike sooner because they weren't friends before.
They are nearly found by the policemen. Without losing time, the two of them hurry back into the bungalow and open the wardrobe, but find out, that the door must have been shut down. Hardscrabble orders the entire room cleared out until the authorities arrive. In the bungalow, the policemen are getting closer. Mike thinks that, if they can generate enough scream energy, they can activate the door from their side. It's their only chance, but Sulley has his doubts. He may be good at scaring children, but these policemen are adults and adults usually can not be scared. Mike knows every scare tactic in the book, so they have a chance.
The policemen enter the bungalow and find it totally empty. Strange things are going on, weird sounds and shadows spook through the room, all produced by Mike and Sulley. When the horror is high enough, Sulley jumps out of the dark and roars as loud as he can, scaring all the adults out of their skins. Their screams don't just activate the door but they overload every scream canister in the room. Without losing time, Mike and Sulley hurry back into the Monster World just as the door explodes. For the first time, Hardscrabble is just plain shocked. The CDA arrive, taking Mike and Sulley away. Squishy asks them what will happen to them. The agent in charge (Roz) tells him it's up to the university president to decide, adding that they'll be watching those two. "Always watching."
Mike and Sulley have been expelled. To their surprise, Hardscrabble has allowed OK into the scare program since she was impressed by their performance in the Games. Also, Don and Sheri are engaged, to Squishy's discomfort.
Mike admits that, for the first time in his life, he doesn't have a plan, but he's okay with "just being okay." He boards a bus back to Monstropolis, but Sulley stops him, telling him that he hasn't met anyone that can do what he has. The wager with Hardscrabble, OK becoming champions, and Sulley pulling off the biggest scare MU has ever seen was all Mike's doing. Sulley says Mike isn't scary, but he is fearless. He beings to talk about Hardscrabble not seeing that, but she arrives, telling him to watch himself. She shows them that they made the front page again, and admits that they both surprised her, something that hasn't been done before. As such, she will look out for more surprises in the program. Regretfully, she can't do anything more for them, but she wishes them luck, telling Mike to "keep surprising people."
They notice an ad in the paper for a company that's always hiring in the mail room. They start work at Monsters Inc, where they meet the Abominable Snowman for the first time. He instructs them that tampering with the mail is punishable by banishment (maybe a rule he should have taken more to heart himself...).
Mike and Sulley are seen happy in the mail room, then get promoted to janitors, kitchen assistants, can wranglers, and then take part in open tryouts for scarers. They pass the training program and Sulley becomes a scarer with Mike as his assistant. Mike dons a hardhat and joins Sulley on the scare floor for the first time.
In the credits, a series of actualized Scare Cards of the Monsters that became Scarers after graduating are shown, featuring the Oozma Kappa members, Chet Alexander, Randall Boggs, Rosie Levin and Johnny Worthington. However, Johnny does not end up working for Monsters, Inc. He goes to another company.
In a post-credits scene, the slug monster from the beginning of the movie finally arrives at his classroom, only to discover that the school year has already ended and he has missed every single class. He then begins his presumably excruciatingly slow journey home.
- Billy Crystal as Mike Wazowski
- John Goodman as James P. Sullivan
- Steve Buscemi as Randy Boggs
- Helen Mirren as Dean Hardscrabble
- Peter Sohn as Scott "Squishy" Squibbles
- Joel Murray as Don Carlton
- Sean Hayes as Terri Perry
- Dave Foley as Terry Perry
- Charlie Day as Art
- Julia Sweeney as Sheri Squibbles
- Alfred Molina as Professor Knight
- Aubrey Plaza as Claire Wheeler
- Tyler Labine as Brock Pearson
- Beth Behrs as Carrie Williams
- Bobby Moynihan as Chet Alexander
- Nathan Fillion as Johnny Worthington III
- John Krasinski as Frank McCay
- Bonnie Hunt as Karen Graves
- John Ratzenberger as Yeti
- Noah Johnston as Young Mike
- Bob Peterson as Roz
- Bill Hader as Referee and Slug
- John Cygan as Big Red
- Lori Alan as Bus Driver
- Jess Harnell as Omega Howl brother
- Mona Marshall as Emmet
- Dan Scanlon as Improv Club Monster
Pete Docter did not return to direct the prequel. It was confirmed during a Cars 2 press open house that Dan Scanlon (the co-director of the short film Mater and the Ghostlight) would be the director.
The film was originally going to be released on November 16, 2012, but was pushed back to November 2 to avoid competition with another film, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2. It was finally set for a release on June 21, 2013.
In 2005, Disney had set up Circle 7 Animation to produce sequels to Pixar films. Work was started on a Monsters, Inc. sequel. In 2006 however, following Pixar's acquisition by Disney, all projects of Circle 7 animation were cancelled and the studio closed. Circle 7's version of the sequel, called "Monsters, Inc. 2: Lost in Scaradise" would have seen Mike and Sulley, who after realizing Boo has moved, are trapped in the Human world in the quest of finding her.
A sequel made by Pixar was confirmed in 2010. In January 2011, rumors surfaced that Monsters, Inc. 2 was going to be a prequel to Monsters, Inc., saying that the film would follow Mike and Sulley when they were at the Monstropolis University of Fear, and how they go from being enemies to best friends. These rumors were confirmed soon after. On August 12, 2011, Billy Crystal attended a 20th anniversary screening of City Slickers. When asked about his return to the role of Mike Wazowski he replied, “That’s why I’m a little hoarse. I spent five-and-a-half hours today for our fourth session on Monsters, Inc. 2." Crystal says that he and co-star John Goodman are having a blast together and describes the script as "really great" and "hilarious". Crystal also gave little details of the plot of the film saying, “It’s college pranks with monsters. And I wear a retainer. Mike has a retainer." Dan Scanlon, Crystal and Ricky Nierva were present at the D23 Expo talking about the film and showcasing concept and development sketches. Scanlon pointed out that this time, Sulley is not as bulky as he was in the first movie, and Mike is smaller. "We all looked a little different when we were in college. Mike we made a little smaller to either straighten or loosen his teeth. I’m not really sure what the desired effect is in the monster world." John Goodman did not attend the expo. Crystal said, "College is a long way away for me, but bringing this world together at Pixar, where only this could happen, it’s hilarious, it’s funny, and different from anything you could possibly imagine that Monsters Inc. could become." On December 3, 2012, Georgian Progressive Metal band Mastodon announced via their Twitter page that they were writing a song for the film. The soundtrack was released by Walt Disney Records on June 18, 2013.
The plot of Monsters University details Mike and Sulley's first meeting, but this created a continuity error from the first film in which Mike tells Sulley that he has been jealous of his looks since the fourth grade. Director Dan Scanlon said he had a dilemma with this line during pre-production, but he believed it was best if Mike and Sulley meet in college because, "we wanted to see their relationship develop when they were adults. And we also felt like college is so much about self-discovery and figuring out who you are." He added, "It felt like the perfect place to do this, but we had that line. So we tried versions where they met young and then we skipped ahead to college. And we knew we didn't want to make Monsters Elementary." Scanlon said during pre-production that, "Pete Docter, the original director, and John Lasseter... finally said to me, 'it's great that you're honouring that, but you have to do what's right for the story.' So we made a tough decision to just have them be in college and put that line aside." Scanlon also said the line from the first film is, "an old monster expression" and "That's what monsters always say to each other."
Monsters University is the first Pixar film that used global illumination, a new lighting system introduced as part of the overhaul of the rendering system used since the first Toy Story film. In the planning stage of the film, director of photography, Jean-Claude Kalache, asked "What if we made these lights just work?" Before the new system, artists had to build reflections and shadows manually, which became increasingly complex as the models and the setups became more technologically advanced. The new lighting system uses ray tracing, a technique that imitates the behaviour of the light in the real world; this automatized the process, delivered more realism, produced soft shadows, and let the artist spend more time on models and complex scenes—some of which contained thousands of light sources.
For research, the filmmakers visited several colleges in the U.S., including Harvard University, Stanford University, and the University of Alabama, observing college architecture, student life, Greek organizations, and the teaching methods of professors and faculty. To research fraternity life, which is central to the film, many of the film's producers spent several weeks at a fraternity house.
The teaser trailer for the film was released online on June 20, 2012 and was screened in theaters with Brave. Four versions of the teaser were released, each featuring Mike saying a different line in his sleep. Each of the four versions were released by a different news outlet, namely YouTube, Itunes Trailers, Yahoo! Movies and The Huffington Post. The versions are "My pony made the deans list" (link), "I can't go to class, I'm not wearing any clothes" (link), "My homework ate my dog" (link) and "Class President - ha, ha, ha, ha" (link). In October 2012, Disney/Pixar started a viral campaign by launching a complete, fully functional website for the Monsters University. The website covers all subjects of a real university website, and includes a store where related merchandise can be bought. In addition, the first TV commercial for the film was aired during the 2013 Rose Bowl Game, parodying ads that participating schools air during college football telecasts. On April Fool's Day, the website was change to look like it had been hacked and vandalized by Fear Tech, Monsters University's rival school. The colors were changed to orange and Fear Tech symbols would invade the screen upon clicking.
Another viral website surfaced in March 2013. Called The Grumblr, it takes the form of a tumblr blog who would be run by a student at Monsters University.
At the occasion of the NCAA March Madness, ESPN presented a short clip showing Monsters University players violently reacting as their team gets eliminated from the competition. This clip was subsequently posted on the Grumblr.
An extended preview of the film was released on February 8, 2013, followed by a full-length trailer for the UK on February 11, 2013, and a clip shown on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon two days later.
On February 15, 2013, another college ad parody was released that showed a few new scenes from the film. The video was entitled "A Message from the Dean."
An all-new sneak peek of the film was released on the Monsters, Inc. 3D Blu-ray on February 19, 2013.
On February 20, 2013, new character posters, and Student and Faculty ID cards were released
On March 8, 2013, a Japanese trailer was released, revealing a little Mike, and new plot details - with one animator from Pixar going so far as to attest that it "spoils the entire movie."
On March 23, 2013, another TV spot was shown at the Kids' Choice Awards.
Another clip was released on May 23, 2013.
Seven more clips were released on June 6, 2013.
From June 27 until July 11, 2013, Disney's online game Club Penguin hosted a Monsters University Takeover event to promote the film. Players could dress up as their favorite monsters and take part in the Scare Games.
Monsters University had its worldwide premiere on June 5, 2013, as a special screening at BFI Southbank in London with the director and producer in attendance. The film had its Asian premiere as the opening film of the 2013 Shanghai International Film Festival on June 15, 2013. It premiered in the United States on June 8, 2013, at the Seattle International Film Festival, and was released in theaters on June 21, 2013. The film's theatrical release was accompanied by Pixar's short film titled The Blue Umbrella. Monsters University was released in the United Kingdom on July 12, 2013.
Monsters University was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, DVD, digital copy and on demand on October 29, 2013. It was accompanied by The Blue Umbrella, Pixar's short film which played alongside the film in theaters.
Monsters University has received mainly positive reviews from critics. The film has a 79% Certified Fresh approval rating on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 177 reviews with an average rating of 6.8/10. According to that website's critical consensus, the film "doesn't scale the heights of Pixar's finest efforts, butMonsters University is still funny and thoughtful family entertainment for viewers of any age." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 65 based on 41 reviews.
Matt Zoller Seitz of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four stars out of four, saying it "is true to the spirit of [Monsters Inc.] and matches its tone. But it never seems content to turn over old ground." Trevor Johnston ofTime Out gave the film four stars out of five, writing, "It has enough of the right stuff to haunt the imagination long after the immediate buzz of its fluffy-furred cuteness has melted away. For a mere prequel, that's a result" Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film three stars out of four, and said it "is cute, and funny, and the animation, though not exactly inspired, is certainly colorful." Jake Coyle of the Associated Press gave the film three stars out of four, saying it "might not be as gifted as some of its other movies, but sometimes it's alright to be OK." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film three stars out of four, and said, "It's all infectious fun, despite the lack of originality. In the art of tickling funny bones, Crystal and Goodman earn straight A's." Richard Corliss of Time gave the film a positive review, saying, "This minor film with major charms still deserves to have kids dragging their parents to the multiplex for one more peek at the monsters in the closet. With Pixar, familiarity breeds content."
Bill Goodykoontz of The Arizona Republic gave the film three and a half stars out of five and said it is "one of those movies that has absolutely no reason to exist, but once you've seen it, you're kind of glad it does." Alan Scherstuhl of The Village Voice gave the film a positive review, saying, "Monsters University feels not like the work of artists eager to express something but like that of likable pros whose existence depends on getting a rise out the kids. It's like the scares Sully and Mike spring on those sleeping tykes: technically impressive but a job un-anchored to anything more meaningful." Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film three stars out of four, and said it "may not be as inventive as Inc., but it's an amusing and amiable addition to Pixar's roster of animated coming-of-age stories." Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post gave the film three stars out of four, saying, "It may be children’s terror that powers the movie’s fictional universe, but it’s the energy of its stars that lights up Monsters University."Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A−, and said it "is exactly the rebound Pixar needed after 2011's Cars 2 left some wondering if the studio had lost its magic. The delightful story of when Mike met Sulley puts those concerns to rest." James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film three stars out of four, and wrote, "Although it falls short of the best Pixar has brought to the screen over its long association with Disney, it's nevertheless worth a trip to the theater, especially for kids."
The film was not without its detractors, though. Richard Roeper gave the film two and a half stars out of five, saying "This is a safe, predictable, edge-free, nearly bland effort from a studio that rarely hedges its bets." Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald gave the film two stars out of five, and wrote that it "feels half-hearted and lazy, like they weren't even trying. At least show a little effort, guys." Ty Burr of The Boston Globe gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four, and said, "This is not a bad movie, and to small children it will be a very good one, but it’s closer to average than one would wish from the company that gave us Up, WALL•E, The Incredibles, and the Toy Story series." Manohla Dargis of The New York Times gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of five and wrote, "Both the originality and stirring emotional complexity of Monsters, Inc., with its exquisitely painful and touching parallels with the human world, are missing." Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four, and said, "The artwork is accomplished, and intricate. The G-rating is genuine, without any gross-out gags. And there's none of the usual winks to the adults with tired, pop-culture references."
Leonard Maltin of IndieWire praised the animation and art direction, but wrote that he wished "the movie was funnier and wasn't so plot-heavy" and that "Pixar has raised the bar for animated features so high that when they turn out a film that’s merely good, instead of great, they have only themselves to blame for causing critics to damn them with faint praise." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two stars out of four, saying, "Monsters University, the weirdly charmless sequel to the animated 2001 Pixar hit Monsters, Inc., is no better or worse than the average (and I mean average) time-filling sequel cranked out by other animation houses." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a negative review, saying that it "never surprises, goes off in unexpected directions or throws you for a loop in the manner of the best Pixar stories. Nor does it come close to elating through the sheer imagination of its conceits and storytelling."
Box Office Results
Monsters University earned $268,492,764 in North America, and $475,066,843 elsewhere, summing up to a worldwide total of $743,559,607. It is the seventh highest-grossing film of 2013 (behind Frozen, Iron Man 3,Despicable Me 2, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Fast & Furious 6), the third highest-grossing animated film of 2013 (behind Frozen and Despicable Me 2), the 96th highest-grossing film of all time and the 20th highest-grossing animated film of all time. The film earned $136.9 million worldwide on its opening weekend. Disney declined to provide a budget for the film; Entertainment Weekly speculated that it was higher than that of Brave ($185 million), mainly because of the high cost of John Goodman and Billy Crystal reprising their roles. Shockya, a subsidiary website of CraveOnline, estimated the budget to be $200 million—on par with Toy Story 3 and Cars 2.
In the week leading to Monsters University's release, Disney projected an opening weekend gross of at least $70 million. The film opened on Friday, June 21, 2013 in first place with $30.47 million, including $2.6 million in Thursday night shows, marking the fifth largest opening day among animated films. The film then reached first place with an opening-weekend gross of $82.43 million; the second largest among Pixar films, the second largest among G-rated films, the fourth largest among prequels, the fifth largest among animated films, and the fifth largest among films released in June. Monsters University remained at first place on its second weekend, declining 45% to $45.6 million. Facing tough competition from Despicable Me 2 on its third weekend, it dropped 57% to $19.7 million. As of December 2013, it is the tenth highest-grossing animated film.
Outside North America
The film earned $54.5 million in 35 markets on its opening weekend. It set a Disney·Pixar opening-weekend record in Latin America with revenues of $31.7 million. In Argentina, the film set an opening weekend record among all films with $5.49 million. In Australia, where it had a simultaneous release with Despicable Me 2, Monsters University debuted behind the latter with $3.56 million in third place. In Hong Kong, the film set opening-day (HK$5.03 million), single-day (HK$7.93 million) and opening-weekend (HK$25.79 million) records among animated films, beating the previous record holder, Toy Story 3. In the UK, the film topped the box office during its opening weekend with a gross of GB£3.46 million. The film's largest opening occurred in China, where its $13 million debut ranked fourth among Disney films. The film's highest-grossing markets are Japan ($90.1 million), the UK, Ireland, and Malta ($47.2 million), and Mexico ($37.6 million).
Attached Short Film
The Blue Umbrella is attached to Monsters University.
Party Central, a short film based on the movie, is attached to Muppets Most Wanted.
- A113 is the number of the classroom where Scaring 101 is given.
- The Easter egg to 2015's Pixar movie The Good Dinosaur appears in a Scare Simulator: on the floor of those fake bedrooms, stuffed toys of dinosaurs can be seen.
- The famous Wilhelm scream is heard when Mike Wazowski runs over a student while driving the floor waxer carelessly.
References to Monsters, Inc.
- The beginning of the teaser trailer makes a nod to both the teaser trailer for Monsters, Inc. and the film's opening scene, using similar shot techniques and narration.
- When the scarers of Monsters, Inc. are first introduced entering the Scare Floor, the same shots and music as in Monsters, Inc. are used.
- Like for Monsters, Inc., the title card is accompanied with an animation sequence; it even reuses some elements from that of the first film.
- Mike takes a picture for his ID card, in which half of his face is cut off. After he sees the picture, he exclaims "I can't believe it. I'm officially a college student!", a reference to when Mike's face is covered by the logo of Monsters, Inc. in a commercial, in the first film, and he exclaims a similar line.
- Randall has a poster in his and Mike's room that reads "Winds of Change: Shhh. Do you hear that?", which is a reference to one of his lines in the first movie.
- When Sulley warns Mike that Archie the Scare Pig is a biter, Mike makes the same scream made in the first film when Roz closes her office shutters on Mike's hands, and when Baby Smitty bites Mike's hand.
- Some of the exercises Mike gives to the OKs mirror the morning exercises he made Sulley follow at the beginning of Monsters, Inc., like using a broom adorned with a drawing of a human head to simulate a child, and have Sulley jump and roar (in a way reminiscent of a push-up).
- While Oozma Kappa is chased by the Monsters, Inc. guards, the same music that plays in the first film, when Sulley notices one of the lamps as part of Boo's disguise in the trash compactor, is reused.
- When Mike goes to the school's door lab to prove that he really can scare a human child, he discreetly steals an I.D. card from a student leaving the door lab. This is reminiscent of the scene in Monsters, Inc. when he again steals another monster's door card in order to find a random door to put Boo in.
- Dean Hardscrabble scolding Sulley that his roar would make a child with a fear of snakes cry instead of scream and not only produce no scream energy, but would also tell his/her parents and therefore endanger the monster world foreshadows the fact that Sulley accidentally scared Boo and made her cry before Waternoose banishes both him and Mike to the Himalayas caused him to realize that scaring is bad, and the fact that Boo was seriously afraid of Randall, a reptilian monster.
- Also, Hardscabble claims that a child crying produces no energy, but when Boo cries in Sulley and Mike's apartment after Mike takes his Little Mikey teddy away, she did produce energy, which caused the lights to flare. However, it could be that the Monsters University staff thought it wouldn't.
- When Hardscrabble sees Sulley go into the door leading to the girls' cabin to save Mike Wazowski from several human policemen by roaring at them she yells, "Don't go in there!" The exact same line was said by Waternoose at the end of the original film when Sulley and Boo trick him into exposing his evil plans and being arrested by the CDA by luring him into the scare simulation room.
- Just right before scaring said policemen, Mike tries to open the cabin's closet door only to find it depowered by Hardscrabble, and starts slamming it repeatedly, similar to how Sulley was slamming on the door Waternoose used to banish both him and Mike to the Himalayas repeatedly before meeting the Yeti. The slamming of the door after banishment appears to symbolize the separation of the film series' protagonists from their goals: Mike from becoming a scarer, and Sulley from rescuing Boo.
- The scoreboard above the scare simulators during the final Scare Games event makes the same beeping sound as the Scarers' Leaderboard in the original film (ironically, the Scarers' Leaderboard in this film makes a mechanical clacking sound due to it being a split-flap display similar to a railway station timetable) as well as one of the dings from the Scream Canisters.
- In the teaser trailer, the snake monster from the intro of Monsters, Inc. appears on a poster to the right of Mike's room.
- When Sulley beats Randall in the final round of the Scare Games, Randall says "That's the last time I lose to you, Sullivan." This explains the start of their rivalry in their later job.
- Also, in the first film, after Randall hits Sulley with a scream canister, he exclaims "You don't know how long I've wanted to do that, Sullivan!", possibly as revenge for being humiliated at the Scare Games.
- During Roz' cameo, she says her famous line from the first film, "Always watching."
- Mike's MU baseball cap is somewhat a replacement for his Monsters, Inc. helmet in the first film. It should also be noted that after Mike and Sulley escape from the human world, his hat is burnt to a crisp in the explosion. This symbolizes that his time in MU is over, an he is ready to start a new life in Monsters, Inc., wearing a new symbol, his helmet.
- When Mike tells Randall that he should get rid of his glasses to help his disappearing effect, Randall does so and is forced to squint like in the first film.
- When Randall accidentally kidnaps Mike and is about to interrogate him with the Scream Extractor, he most likely captured him out of his poor eyesight.
- Some of the scarers working at Monsters, Inc. resemble Mike and Sulley's eventual co-workers: for example, Jerry Jablonski=Noodles Rivera, Rufus Remerez=Ricky Plesuski, Dorothy Newbern=Bud Luckey, Clive Carver=Spike Jones, etc.
- Throughout the first film, it's heavily implied that Mike and Sulley were expelled from college, as they were interacting with even the lowest-ranked employees like Needleman and Smitty. This was confirmed in this film.
- Mike makes Sulley get up at about 6 a.m. to work out in both movies (although Mike wakes Sulley up at 6:05 a.m. in Monsters, Inc.).
- When Mike sees Sulley come in his room through the window, he makes the same scream in the first film when Boo sneezes on his eye.
- When Sulley sees Mike sitting at the lake in the Human World, one of the same recordings of Sulley's line "Mike?" is used when he searches for Mike, who was captured by Randall, near the lab's entrance.
- If time passes the same in the Monster World as in ours, given the fact that the title school was founded in 1313, then Monsters, Inc. takes place in 2001. And if 10 years is between Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University, then Monsters University takes place in the 1990s.
- Mike's initial fear of Boo in the original film was likely the result of him still being traumatized by his experience in the summer camp near the end of this film.
- The villains of both films, Henry J. Waternoose III and Johnny Worthington III, both have a last name that starts with a "W", and have names that end with a "III" (third).
- Throughout the original film, even though Sulley is the protagonist and Mike is the deuteragonist, Mike claims that he is the hero and Sulley is the sidekick. In University, Mike is the protagonist, and the deuteragonist is now Sulley.
- The door leading to the summer camp resembles either the door leading to the yodeler's chalet, the door leading to the Sherpa village in Nepal allowing Sulley to escape the Himalayas to save Boo from Waternoose, or the door leading to the trailer home in Louisiana to dispose of Randall.
- On Mike's locker, he has a reminder to file his paperwork.
- Some of the backgrounds cars are derived from Cars 2 characters. For instance, monster-stylized AMC Pacers can be spotted in several scenes. The PNKs are notably seen onboard a pink convertible model when they invite the OKs to a party. Some of these Pacers are painted in a blue color that matches that of the die-cast version of Petey Pacer. Additionally, cars based on the Zündapp Janus can be spotted, as well as cars based on the body of the lemons, Fred and Otis.
- The Pizza Planet Truck appears next to the JOX's house at the party.
- The Luxo Ball appears drawn on the wall in the toxicity challenge to demonstrate how children toys are toxic.
- Roz makes an appearance as Agent #001.
- When Professor Knight was showing what the kid look that was "scaring" on the final exam, it looks like one the kids from Toy Story 3. It is now known that this kid is afraid of spiders and Santa.
- In the OK's basement, there is a picture of a car that resembles Mike's car from Mike's New Car. Also, another picture of the car is seen in Mike's locker at the end.
- Mr. Waternoose and Celia are seen on pictures in Mike's locker at Monsters, Inc.
- The Scuba Diver from Partysaurus Rex is seen in the scare simulator when Mike goes in.
- This is Pixar's first prequel.
- Monsters, Inc. is the third Pixar film to become a franchise, after Toy Story and Cars.
- Each background character was named after a Monsters University production member and each member is credited for the shots in which their character appears.
- The technology of monsters in the film appears to be older than that in Monsters, Inc., which emphasize on the fact Monsters University takes place some time before the first film, possibly 10 years. For example, door supports are larger, more bulky and complicate in appearance, Monsters, Inc.'s leaderboard is made of a table rather than TV screens, and Scare simulators are much less realistic, with rather crude crash test dummies-style children animatronics.
- When Mike receives the Scare Games trophy, the music has a resemblance to the A Bug's Life opening theme.
- The Greek alphabet depicted in this film is Argma (A), Gamma (G), Slugma (E), Theta (O), Eta (H), Howl (H), Kappa (K), Nu (N), Oozma (O), Python (P), Roar (R), Hiss (S), Phi (O), Chi (X) and Omega (O). Of the 15 letters, only Gamma, Theta, Eta, Kappa, Nu, Phi, Chi and Omega are real.
- Both Eta and Howl are represented by an "H", which adds to confusion.
- Argma, Slugma, Oozma and Python's symbols resemble Lambda, Sigma, Omicron and Rho, respectively.
- The song that plays at the end of the teaser trailer is True, by Spandau Ballet.
- According to story supervisor Kelsey Mann, they produced 227,246 storyboard drawings, the most of any Pixar film to date.
- The first major rewrite of Pixar's hair and cloth simulation software occurred for Monsters University. This software was first introduced on Monsters, Inc., where it was used to simulate a single garment, Boo's shirt. InMonsters University, 127 garments were simulated.
- The new Global Illumination software Pixar introduced on this film required a doubling in size of their render farm.
- It took over 100 million CPU hours to render the entire film. Each frame took an average of 29 hours to render.
- There are over 400 different characters and at least 100 different monster "races" seen in the film. On average, there are 25 characters in every shot (previously there was an average of 10 characters in a shot).
- Mike, Sulley and Randall Boggs are the only three monsters from the original film to have big roles in the prequel.
- In the US release, the cupcakes that Randy shows Mike say: "Be My Pal". In the UK release, they have faces on them.
- Mike talking about him being a stable boy and Sulley a princess in his sleep is a likely reference to The Princess Bride, which starred Wallace Shawn (the voice of Rex in the Toy Story franchise and Gilbert Humph in The Incredibles), where Billy Crystal was cast as the character of Miracle Max.
- For some reason, the scarers in this film do not return in Inc. However, given the fact that the original film took place during an energy crisis, it's implied that the scarers in University either retired or got laid off at some point between the two films.
- Conversely, the scarers in Inc. do not return in University, implying that they may have attended a different school such as Fear Tech, some other university, are too young to have been in college at the same time as Mike and Sulley, or may have been employed through the scare try-outs, like Mike and Sulley.
- When Mike raised his hand to say "A clown running in the dark," his fingers show the same shape as the Vulcan salute from Star Trek.
- When Mike is training the OK team, he says, "If you walk by the door, you have to become the door." Steven Segal as Casey Ryback says virtually the same line in Under Siege: "You walk by a hatch and you see the enemy, you become the hatch."
- When Mike makes Sulley do push-ups in the rain, this is a reference to Richard Gere in the movie An Officer and a Gentleman when his character has to do push-ups while the sergeant sprays water on him.
- This is the third Pixar film to begin when the main character was a child, the first being Up, the second being Brave.
- There are at least 127 different garments (Mike Wazowski's hat, Sulley's T-shirt, Don Carlton's T-shirt and glasses, Terri and Terry's turtleneck, Squishy's sweater, Art's armbands, Roar Omega Roar's jackets, etc.) worn in the film.
- In the original film, Mike says Sulley has been "jealous of his good lucks since the third grade." This is a plothole as Mike and Sulley do not meet until college.
- The human world is noticeably portrayed as being completely dark, dreary and minimalistic (aside from the flashing lights on the rangers' trucks), as opposed to the bright and colorful appearance of the monster world. This is probably due to the fact that the human world's bleak appearance is the result of how exactly monsters view humans.
- When the green monster comes on to the simulator in the Scare Final, he is the height of the simulator, but when he scares, he is half his original size.