The new Pixar movie is a 'love letter to Mexico'

San Francisco - It is known for movies about monsters, insects and children's toys but Pixar's latest, very human story is "a love letter to Mexico" at a time of simmering racial tension.

Taking the country's Day of the Dead festival as its theme, Coco will hit US theaters some 12 months after Donald Trump's 8 November election victory on an anti-immigration ticket that enflamed Hispanic communities across America.

It has been hailed as a welcome corrective to a divisive presidential campaign in which Trump called many Mexican immigrants rapists and vowed to build a wall between the United States and its southern neighbor.

"We're creating it for the world and it's going to hopefully have a great positive influence around the world," said Coco director Lee Unkrich, who has been at Pixar since 1995's Toy Story, directing its two sequels.

"But for Mexico particularly, we're trying to create on some level a love letter to Mexico and I hope people embrace it that way."

Pixar showcased early artwork for the movie as it opened the doors to its secluded headquarters in the Bay Area of San Francisco to the news media, with its 21st year as a feature film studio drawing to a close.

Starring newcomer Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal (Amazon's Mozart in the Jungle) and Benjamin Bratt (Doctor Strange), Coco tells the story of a 12-year-old Mexican musician who journeys to the Land of the Dead in search of his ancestors.

Pixar's 19th feature-length movie follows 21 years of unparalleled success marked by $11bn in box office receipts and 13 Oscars since Toy Story blazed a trail as the world's first computer-generated feature film.

No more sequels 

Pixar had already won best animated picture Oscars for Finding Nemo and The Incredibles by the time Disney bought the company for $7.4bn in 2006, making Jobs its largest single shareholder.

A hatful of further statuettes followed as Ratatouille, WALL-E and Up saw Pixar's reputation transformed from new kid on the block to animation's king of the castle.

It has not all been plain sailing - Cars 2 was seen as a creative misstep and panned by critics while the domestic box office receipts for The Good Dinosaur came in below its production budget.

Unkrich recalls Toy Story 2 being plunged into crisis when the production team realized with the deadline looming that the story was not working.

The crew got back on course after Jobs - who died in 2011 - took Unkrich aside and advised him that the achievements he was most proud of were always when "there wasn't enough time and there weren't enough resources but somehow people came together and got the work done."

Coco is leading a new wave of original Pixar films under development following the studio's recent announcement that it was putting sequels on the back burner after 2019's Toy Story 4.

"With each new one we make, there's never any guarantee that they're going to work or be accepted," says Unkrich.

"We try our best every time to make engaging films that we're interested in and we just hope the rest of the world likes them."

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