The Hidden Secrets of Your Favourite Movies

Filmmakers love hiding references and inside jokes in their movies. And some of us love looking for them. You might have heard of the Pizza Planet Truck, for example; a yellow van that is present somewhere on every Pixar movie to date, the only exception being The Incredibles.


Perhaps one more widespread in-joke is “A113”. If you have not heard of it, prepare to get your mind blown. “A113” was originally one of the classrooms at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) used by graphic design and animation students. Many well-known animators and directors have attended this school and are familiar with the classroom, including filmmakers Pete Docter (Up, Inside Out), Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-E) and John Lasseter (Toy Story, Cars), pictured below back in the 1990s:


“A113” soon became an inside joke among CalArts alumni. Brad Bird in particular has included the reference in every single one of his films: “A113 was our classroom number. On “Family Dog” I put it on the license plate of the thieves’ car. And I put it into every single one of my films, including my Simpsons episodes…”. But Bird was not the only one. In fact, all Pixar movies reference A113, as well as a wide variety of animated and live action films and TV shows of different genres. Some examples include American Dad!, Doctor Who, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and The Avengers.

The collage below shows only a fraction of the movies and TV shows that contain this reference – can you name them all?

A113 Collage
From top left to bottom right: Toy Story, Doctor Who, Wall-E, Lilo and Stitch, The Princess and the Frog, South Park, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Cars, The Avengers, Ratatouille, A Bug’s Life, American Dad!, The Simpsons, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Rugrats and Monsters University.

And these are just a few of them! So next time you go to the movies, be sure to keep an eye out for these hidden references and see how many you can find!


– Catalina


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