Toy Story movies create legacy

(NBC) - The breathtaking animation of the original "Toy Story" left star Tom Hanks befuddled 15 years ago, and he was in the film.

"I bow down to the process," Hanks said after the debut. "I am completely confused by it all […] this thing is like, I don't know how they did this."

Hanks wasn't the only one befuddled by the first feature-length computer animated film.

Computers had encroached on the domain of pencil-pushing animators.

"The movie just instantly showcased the amazing creative possibilities of digital animation," Entertainment Weekly film critic Owen Gleiberman said.

"Toy Story" was a critical and commercial smash, pulling in almost $360 million worldwide at the box office.

All it took was nearly 111,000 individual frames of computer generated footage and each frame required between four and nine hours to develop.

"The computer doesn't create computer animated films any more than clay creates clay animation or pencils create pencil animation," Director John Lassiter said after completing the film. "It's the people who use it."

15 years later, computer generated films are now as much a part of the movie-going landscape as popcorn.  "Toy Story 3" may well offer a new summit.

"I felt this was the most extraordinary Pixar movie I'd seen since 'The Incredibles' and maybe since the first 'Toy Story'," Gleiberman said.  "It's just incredibly moving and very, very funny."

Audiences will weigh in starting Friday.

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