The Good Dinosaur (2015) experienced multiple production issues. The film was in production for six years and it suffered from creative differences, story problems, Pixar multitasking between film productions, and a quality slump the studio suffered from Cars 2 (2011) to Monsters University (2013). Director Bob Peterson was removed from the project in the summer of 2013, just under a year before the film's original release date in May 2014. Peterson moved on to another project, while John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Mark Andrews, and Peter Sohn stepped in temporarily to work on various sections of the film. In November 2013, due to further delays, Pixar laid off sixty-seven employees of its twelve hundred-person workforce, following the closure of its satellite studio in Canada a month before, when about eighty employees had been laid off, officially to refocus Pixar's efforts at its main headquarters. "For Pixar, it was a dramatic event", said Jim Morris, the studio's General Manager and Executive Vice President of Production. "It was tough on the company. Most studios would have said, 'The movie's fine. It's not bad.' And it wasn't bad; it just wasn't great. We wanted to have a great movie." On October 21, 2014, Peter Sohn was officially named the new director. The story was then re-worked, and some major changes included lowering the age of the protagonist and adding the concept of nature itself being the main antagonist. While John Lithgow still remained cast as Poppa in the film (he would later be replaced), he acknowledged the fantastic changes in the script and said that "(The film's) gonna be better than I ever imagined."
Originally, Arlo was going to be older (approximately seventeen-years-old) and voiced by Lucas Neff. However, Director Peter Sohn, in order to convey the idea of Arlo maturing, as well as accurately portray the "boy-and-dog" relationship between Arlo and Spot, decided to make him younger (approximately eleven-years-old).
This film was originally directed by Bob Peterson and set for release on May 30, 2014, but Peterson had trouble getting the third act right, so he was taken off the film and it was pushed back to November 25, 2015, the intended release date of Finding Dory (2016), in order to give it more time; Finding Dory (2016) was then pushed back to June 17, 2016. Peterson had since gone on to do a different film for Pixar, while Denise Ream replaced John Walker as producer, and, on October 21, 2014, Peter Sohn was officially named the new director. The story was then re-worked, and some major changes included adding the concept of nature itself being the main antagonist.
According to the film's original Director Bob Peterson, the inspiration for this film came from his impression of the dinosaur animatronics he saw on a childhood visit to the 1964 New York World's Fair.
Thomas Newman was originally assigned to compose music for this movie, but complications with Newman's schedule and further delays with the film's productions prompted him to leave. Newman was replaced by Academy Award winning Composer Mychael Danna (Life of Pi (2012)).
Earl is the second character voiced by Pixar legend John Ratzenberger to be a villain, with the first one being The Underminer in The Incredibles (2004) (who was rather a minor villain, as he was only featured in the last twenty seconds of the film), not counting P.T. Flea in A Bug's Life (1998) and Mustafa from Ratatouille (2007), who are both anti-heroes. Though Hamm did play a villain at (only) the start of Toy Story 3 (2010), it is only a fantasy sequence during Andy's playtime, so he does not count.
This is the first Pixar film to have a Thanksgiving release since Toy Story 2 (1999), as well as the first one to have a November release since The Incredibles (2004), and the first one to not have a June release since Up (2009) and Pixar's first film after the studio was purchased/acquired by Walt Disney Pictures in December 2006 to be released in November.
This movie was originally scheduled to be released on November 27, 2013. It was then pushed back to May 30, 2014, while Disney's Frozen (2013) was released on November 27. This movie was then pushed back again to November 25, 2015, after the director change, pushing Finding Dory (2016), that was originally intended to release then to June 17, 2016, while May 30, 2014 would be given to the live-action movie Maleficent (2014), which was originally intended to release later.
The T-Rexes were at first thought to be villains, until one of the trailers proved otherwise with them being on Arlo's side, with the main villains being Nyctosauruses. This makes this movie one of the few dinosaur movies where the T-Rexes aren't villains.
Pixar's fifth film where the director or a co-director has a major role, not being simply listed in the additional voices, with Peter Sohn as The Pet Collector. The other four had been Finding Nemo (2003), The Incredibles (2004), Cars (2006), and Up (2009).
Obviously, over the following decades since the movie was made, science will continue to make further discoveries, and theories, of the various dinosaurs appearances, movement and behaviour. Already, by late 2018, scientists have discovered some dinosaurs may have been feathered and/or highly colourful.
Arlo shares some connections with Littlefoot in Don Bluth's The Land Before Time (1988), who's also an Apatosaurus in an animated film about dinosaurs: -Both characters hatch themselves at the start of the film. -Both characters have major responsibilities. -Both have wise parents who help them in a lot of ways. -Both of them end up losing one of their parents (his mother in Littlefoot's case, and his father in Arlo's case). -Both must make a perilous journey and overcome many challenges along the way. -Both form a friendship to help them out (four other young dinosaurs in Littlefoot's case, and a young caveboy in Arlo's case). -Both meet a wise dinosaur to help them out (Littlefoot meets Rooter, and Arlo meets three T-Rexes) -Both eventually gain courage to stand up to the main villains of their films and defeat them (Sharptooth in Littlefoot's case, and Thunderclap in Arlo's case), both of their defeats involve falling into a river.
Butch's (Sam Elliott's) line, "In the morning, we ride." is a nod to Elliott's character, "Carter Slade, The Caretaker", in Ghost Rider (2007), who accompanied Johnny Blaze on one last ride before the final showdown.
Thunderclap (Steve Zahn) is the third Pixar villain where he may not seem bad only during his introduction, only to reveal his true colors shortly afterwards, therefore not being one of those surprise main antagonists. The other two Pixar villains to have been like that were AUTO in WALL·E (2008), and Lotso in Toy Story 3 (2010).