The movie is set in Mexico and follows 12-year-old Miguel Rivera, whose family is against music and believes they've been cursed by it. But Miguel has a passion for music and accidentally ends up in the Land of the Dead after imitating his favorite singer, the late Ernesto de la Cruz. In the underworld, he befriends an array of skeletal souls to find his musical hero, and get his family's blessing to finally perform the music he loves.
As with many Pixar movies, there may be subtle things you didn't notice in "Coco." Here, Disney shares eight secrets and fun facts about the movie.
Filmmakers borrowed elements from other Pixar movies
Miguel's loyal canine companion Dante is a Xolo dog -- short for Xoloitzcuintli -- the national dog of Mexico. These hairless dogs typically have missing teeth, which can cause their tongue to naturally hang out. "Coco" filmmakers wanted to include this feature while designing Dante and have his tongue behave like a character itself, according to Walt Disney Studios. To do so, they borrowed the rig used in "Finding Dory" to create "septopus" Hank's tentacles.
The director's son created the guitar's design
In the movie, Miguel refurbishes an old guitar by patching it up and painting it to look just like Ernesto de la Cruz's signature guitar. However, filmmakers knew that if an adult artist designed it, it wouldn't look authentic. Director Lee Unkrich had his son create the recycled guitar's design.
Artists spent months finding the right look for the characters
Artists wanted to perfect the looks for each character. Since Ernesto de la Cruz is a well-known figure around the world, they wanted to give him identifiable attributes, according to Walt Disney Studios. These included a cleft in his chin, a distinctive curl of hair across his forehead, a pencil-thin mustache and pristine-looking bones. An all-white wardrobe while he was in the Land of the Dead guaranteed that Ernesto would have all eyes on him when surrounded by vivid colors. Walt Disney Studios said animators also gave Ernesto swagger to emphasize his elite status. Additionally, filmmakers added facial rigs to Ernesto to enhance the vibrations of his Adam's apple, throat and cheek when he sings.
Skeletons make a subtle appearance
The resident skeletons in the Land of the Dead get subtle shout-outs from filmmakers. For example, the cobblestone streets feature bone-shaped paving stones.
The only living plants are marigolds
Pixar artists love to add grass, trees and bushes to outdoor scenes. But "Coco" filmmakers had a different perspective for the Land of the Dead. Here, the only living plants would be marigolds. Filmmakers did research in Mexico and discovered that the color and smell of marigold petals are believed to guide spirits home to their loved ones during Día de Muertos.
Chicharrón is the least remembered character in the Land of the Dead
Chicharrón frequently borrows things from Miguel's friend Héctor, which is clear when they notice he has a pipe Hector loaned to him where his femur bone once was. To represent how forgotten Chicharrón is, his bones are shown as much looser and weathered, and his face has more chips and grooves.
More than 500 pieces of clothing were used to outfit the crowd
More than 500 pieces of clothing were made to outfit the characters in the crowd -- from the Santa Cecilia residents to the skeleton guests at Ernesto de la Cruz's party in the Land of the Dead. Pixar artists worked their magic to shade, shape and combine the 500 separate pieces in different ways to dress thousands of crowd characters.
Musicians used GoPros on their guitars to help animators
According to Walt Disney Studios, "all of the guitar playing in the movie is technically accurate." Filmmakers videotaped musicians playing each song and strapped GoPros to their guitars to give animators "reference footage."