Pixar’s latest film Lightyear just came out on June 17, 2022, and is full of fun Easter eggs and connections to other Pixar films. The company has always included lots of Easter eggs in all their films, such as the appearance of the Pizza Planet truck or a character being voiced by John Ratzenberger. Another famous Easter egg is the appearance of “A113” itself.
It began as an inside joke between the alumni of the California Institute of the Arts, referring to the classroom used by graphic design students John Lasseter, Tim Burton, and Brad Bird. While it has become a key feature used in Pixar, it has also branched into many other films and television shows.
Amazing Stories – “The Family Dog”
Brad Bird is one of the main users of this sequence and has used it in nearly all of his eclectic work. Bird was the very first person to use it in an episode of Amazing Stories called “The Family Dog.” Bird episode would go on to spawn a spin-off TV series, The Family Dog, but was canceled after 10 episodes.
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In the original episode, “A113” appears as the license plate on the back of a red van. Number plates are a regular position for this number to appear, as they do in their first Pixar appearance in Toy Story. Additionally, “A113” also appears at the top of a clipboard held by a police officer in the episode.
Brad Bird has made it very clear his affection for this sequence, saying, “I put it into every single one of my films, including my Simpsons episodes. It’s sort of my version of caricaturist Al Hirschfeld’s ‘Nina,'” referring to the caricaturist always including his daughter’s name somewhere in his work. The Simpsons is also known for its many great cameos, so it’s no surprise A113 appears here.
“A113” has appeared in four episodes of The Simpsons: “Krusty Gets Busted,” “Cape Feare,” “Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaming,” and “Do The Bartman.” A113 shares its time in these episodes equally between appearing as a number on a character’s prison mugshot and or being a prison uniform number.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Brad Bird’s career has had a very broad range of work. From directing some of Pixar’s most acclaimed films, Ratatouille and The Incredibles, to helming the failed franchise-starter Tomorrowland. Perhaps the most out of place from his animation work is directing the fourth installment of the highly rewatchable Mission Impossible franchise.
Bird squeezed in A113 as many times as he could, with it appearing on the side of a ring, on the plate of a car in front of The Kremlin and it being Ethan Hunt’s access code, given to him over the phone as “Alpha-1-1-3.” Even a bomb’s detonator is deactivated as it reads 1.13 seconds. Bird certainly made the most of his live-action directorial debut.
The Iron Giant
In Brad Bird’s animated feature film debut, the cult classic The Iron Giant, the Easter egg appears twice. First, it appears partially on the number plate, but The Giant has bitten off the number “3.” It then appears in a painting in Dean’s house, later in the film.
Despite being unsuccessful upon its initial release, the film’s popularity has grown so much that even The Iron Giant itself has gone on to appear as an Easter egg in several other projects, appearing in the cameo-filled final battle in Ready Player One and in Space Jam: A New Legacy.
Space Jam: A New Legacy
In 2021, Warner Bros made the long-awaited and ambitious attempt to make a sequel to Space Jam. The project was long-rumored and saw Lebron James star in the leading role instead of Michael Jordan. James had previously starred as himself in Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck and received a lot of praise for his performance.
However, the film was not a critical success, going on to be nominated for many Razzie awards. It features many cameos for many Warner Brothers-owned properties, such as The Looney Tunes, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones. Looney Tune Marvin the Martian appears with A113 written proudly and clearly on the side of his spaceship, one of the many references made in the film.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire also features a short appearance from the sequence. It appears towards the end of the film on a CCTV screen while President Snow is watching over Katniss and is one of many hidden details in The Hunger Games. At first glance, this film has no direct link to Pixar, which makes the appearance of A113 curious.
It most likely makes an appearance due to the involvement of Michael deBruyn, the screenwriter, who also has worked on many Pixar projects. deBruyn has had several different credits on Pixar films, such as for providing “additional screenplay material” for Brave and as Story Consultant on Incredibles 2. His biggest role at Pixar was a screenplay credit for Toy Story 3, being part of the team that was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
The Truman Show
The Truman Show is another film that one would not expect to see a reference to a Pixar film. The film often uses lots of clever shots showing hidden cameras filming Truman in secret. Here, “A114” is written on one of the cameras.
This varies slightly from the usual placement of A113. At first glance, one could assume that it is just a coincidence that the numbers are similar. However, it combines two references in one, A113 and the use of the number “114” in Stanley Kubrick films. The number appears in Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange and Eyes Wide Shut, and here the two references are merged into one.
While the A113 Easter egg is comfortable making an appearance in family-friendly animated films, it is used in a much more adult way in 2016’s Sausage Party. Barry, a deformed sausage voiced by Michael Cera, jumps into a stranger’s car and is driven away, with A113 shown on the license plate.
It is very common to see A113 appear on a license plate, as it did in its first Pixar appearance. It does the very same here, however, next to it is written “DIXAR.” The adult joke and direct reference to the Easter egg and is very fitting for the overall feel of Sausage Party.
Lilo & Stitch
Lilo & Stitch turns 20 this year. The film is a fan favorite with Disney viewers and is celebrated for its depiction of Lilo and Nani’s strong sibling relationship. Family is a strong theme throughout the film and it shows its loyalty to the Disney family by including the A113 nod.
While it mainly appears as a vehicle’s license plate, it is usually only seen once. However, here, it appears on every plate in the film. This includes Cobra Bubbles’ rental car, Captain Gantu’s spaceship, Nani’s car, a fire truck, a tanker truck, and the license plate Stitch uses for his model of San Francisco.
A113 also makes more than one appearance in The Avengers. This is the highest-grossing film in which the sequence makes an appearance and shows just how popular the Easter egg has become, as well as showing that it shows no signs of going away.
It can be seen in the top left corner of all news clips near the end of the film when the world reacts to the revelation of the Avengers. Also seen in the bottom right-hand corner of Nick Fury’s Helicarrier Glass Screens.