The orange flower seen throughout the film is the Aztec marigold (known also as the Mexican marigold or the Cempasúchil). The flower is used in the tradition of Dia de Muertos in México to guide the deceased to the living.
The filmmakers and animators traveled to Mexico five times to research about the culture, people, food, traditions, etc. to help define the story and characters of Coco (2017). Among their journeys, they visited Mexico City and Oaxaca. Director Lee Unkrich said of the experience, "I'd seen it portrayed in folk art. It was something about the juxtaposition of skeletons with bright, festive colors that captured my imagination. It has led me down a winding path of discovery. And the more I learn about Día de Muertos, the more it affects me deeply."
In the movie the spirit of Frida Kahlo identifies Dante as a Xolo (Xoloitzcuintli dog), which is a nice tribute to the real Frida. During the mid-20th century the Xolo breed began to decline in popularity. Frida and her husband, Diego Rivera, helped to save the breed by including the Xolo dog as part of their art. Thanks to Frida and Diego, the breed became known again to the world.
Despite the success of Frozen (2013) the not-quite-short film Olaf's Frozen Adventure (2017) received serious complaints from moviegoers in Mexico for its greater-than-usual length, perceived lower quality, and the fact that it is a nonstop Christmas-themed musical number. Complaints were so numerous that the two largest movie theatre chains in the country opted to stop showing the Frozen short film before the movie just a week after opening day.
The film features a variety of animated caricatures or cameo appearances of legendary Mexican celebrities, paying homage to them. Among the many deceased Mexican celebrities who are featured in the film include: Santo, a wrestler; movie actor Cantinflas; actor and comedian Pedro Infante; singer and actor Jorge Negrete; painter Frida Kahlo; Emiliano Zapata, one of the revolutionary leaders during the Mexican Revolution; and actress María Félix. Director Lee Unkrich has stated that besides these celebrities, there are more hidden in the film.
The character of Ernesto de la Cruz is based on the Mexican icon Pedro Infante (in fact, the second last name of Infante was "Cruz"). In addition, Ernesto's last name, de la Cruz, is also a reference to another Pixar character, Cruz Ramirez from Cars 3 (2017). In addition to that, a cartoon of Pedro Infante appears on the film and even interacts with De la Cruz.
Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina had said that the most difficult element to animate was Abuelita's neck. In order to have a reference for the neck Molina asked his mother-in-law, who lives in Mexico City, to travel to PIXAR, where he and Unkrich tried to make her angry to see how her neck moved, this was difficult because Molina's mother-in-law is, according to him, "a woman hard to get angry". After some hours they successfully made her mad.
The door to the office in The Land of the Dead is labelled with the famous Pixar Easter Egg 'A113' , named after the California Institute of Arts classroom where many members of Disney and Pixar studied.
When Miguel and Héctor arrive in Ernesto de la Cruz Plaza there is a scene of people celebrating and lighting fireworks; at that moment, on the right side of the screen there is a poster for Pixar's Incredibles 2 (2018).
Since Ernesto De La Cruz had such a large impact on Miguel, he named the stray dog "Dante" after a horse in one of De La Cruz's movies which can be seen and heard at De La Cruz's house party on the projectors.
Songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez contributed one song for Coco (2017), the film's signature song "Remember Me". This marked the first time the husband-and-wife songwriting team composed music for a Pixar animated film. Ironically, they could not get involved with the Frozen short film Olaf's Frozen Adventure (2017) due to scheduling conflicts with Coco.
The film was originally titled "Día de los Muertos" for the Mexican holiday (NOTE: In Spanish, the holiday is properly called Día de Muertos). During the film's production, in 2015, the Walt Disney Company made a request to trademark the phrase "Día de los Muertos" for various merchandising applications. This was met with significant criticism from many people in the United States, particularly the Mexican American community, who derided the company for cultural appropriation and exploitation. A week later, Disney cancelled its attempt and changed the film's title to "Coco". Some time later, Pixar Animation Studios hired Mexican American cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz, playwright Octavio Solis, and former CEO of the Mexican Heritage Corp. Marcela Davison Aviles as technical consultants for the film, leading them to take voice-over roles in the film.
Disney normally does both a Mexican and a Spanish (Spain) dub for its films (think of it as making dubs for American and British English speakers). For this film, there was no Spanish dub, only a Mexican one.
According to the film's co-director and screenwriter Adrian Molina, the idea of Miguel watching the films of Ernesto de la Cruz on videotapes to, among many things, learn how to play the guitar as well as de la Cruz is based on Molina's own childhood in the 1990s, when he recorded the new episodes and reruns of The Wonderful World of Disney television program on ABC, CBS, and The Disney Channel on videotape and from watching them, yearned for a better life.
STUDIO TRADEMARK: The Pizza Planet truck, which has appeared in every Pixar movie, can be seen driving past the Rivera Shoe Shop while Elena (Miguel's grandmother) explains the "No Music" rule to Miguel.
When originally released, the film featured the short film Olaf's Frozen Adventure (2017) before the film, which runs 22 minutes long. Many moviegoers thought they had wandered into the wrong film. Beginning December 7, 2017, Olaf's Frozen Adventure (2017) was withdrawn from theatrical release, and no short film was substituted in its place.
Pixar's 2nd film to focus mostly on cast members with a specific ethnicity, in the case of this film being Mexican. The first one was Brave (2012), which focused mostly on actors with a Scottish background.
For the film's theatrical release, Coco (2017) was originally accompanied by a 22-minute animated short film entitled Olaf's Frozen Adventure (2017) in which Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad) finds a family tradition for his friends for the holiday season. Coco (2017) is the first full-length Pixar animated film to not be accompanied by a short film created and produced by Pixar Animation Studios since Toy Story (1995), which had no accompanying short film in the USA and was accompanied in the UK by a re-release of the Roger Rabbit short film Roller Coaster Rabbit (1990).
The film released on the same day as Pixar's first film Toy Story (1995), 22 years prior. It's also Pixar's second film to release the same day as one of their previous films, the first being The Good Dinosaur (2015), which was released the same day A Bug's Life (1998) did 17 years prior to that.
The film features Cheech Marin's first voice-over role in a Pixar animated film outside of the Cars franchise. He has also done voice-over roles for two animated feature films for Walt Disney Feature Animation: Tito the Chihuahua in Oliver & Company (1988) and Banzai the Hyena in The Lion King (1994).
This is the second time two Pixar movies were released in the same year. This and Cars 3 (2017) were both released in 2017. The first time was 2015, which saw the releases of Inside Out (2015) and The Good Dinosaur (2015). In both years, one film had a box office score higher than the other. In 2015, the Summer release (Inside Out) had the highest score while in 2017, the Fall release (Coco) has the highest score.
One of Miguel's relatives (the one who drops a shoe when Miguel announces he wants to play music) is wearing a green t-shirt. This is the shirt of the Mexican national football team (Mexicans are big soccer fans).
This is Pixar's second film released on Thanksgiving to not be directed by John Lasseter, and the first one released on Thanksgiving to have Lee Unkrich as the main director, after having been the simply the co-director of Toy Story 2 (1999).
The 6th Pixar film to have the actor of it's protagonist nominated for the Annie Award for Best Voice Acting, after Ratatouille (2007), WALL-E (2008), Brave (2012), Monsters University (2013), and Inside Out (2015).
On January 7, 2018, this film won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature, making it the 8th Pixar film to win this award, after Cars (2006), Ratatouille (2007), WALL-E (2008), Up (2009), Toy Story 3 (2010), Brave (2012), and Inside Out (2015).
This film would be Disney's second depiction or reference to the Mexican tradition of Dia de Muertos, sometimes referred to as "Dia de los Muertos". The Lizzie McGuire (2001) episode Lizzie McGuire: Night of the Day of the Dead (2001) featured Miranda Sanchez's parents giving Lizzie a brief explanation of the traditions.
This is Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez's 3rd Disney movie for writing songs after Frozen (2013) and Winnie the Pooh (2011). It's also their first time writing songs for a Disney movie that's made by Pixar Animation Studios and not made by Walt Disney Animation Studios.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In Mexican folklore, family curses occur when you steal from the dead. Ernesto stole Hector's songs and guitar after the latter died, thus cursing the guitar to bring Miguel to the Land of the Dead and eventually destroy Ernesto.
The song that Mama Imelda and Ernesto de la Cruz sang towards the end of the film is called "La Llorona", a classic and anonymous Mexican song. One popular interpretation of the song is about a singer feeling trapped by this woman (La Llorona) who has fallen in love with him.
First Pixar film to show an on screen death of a major character, in this case when Ernesto gets crushed to death by the falling bell. All other deaths in Pixar films have been slightly off-screen, out of view or not in the scene at all.
In Mexican tradition, the ofrenda is an altar that pays tribute to the dead. Within the film, it aids the deceased who can be remembered. However, there is an existing ofrenda tradition that remembers and pays tribute to the dead who have been forgotten. This tradition was left out of the film as it would have derailed the plot.
The dog's name, Dante, is a reference to Dante Alighieri, the Italian poet and author of the 'Divine Comedy', originally called 'Comedia'. The Divine Comedy describes Dante's journey through the realm of the dead. In México, the Xoloitzcuintli (the Mexican hairless dog depicted in the film) is the guide of the deceased through his/her way to the Mictlán (the underworld, the place where all the souls go after death).
A trumpet and a record player are visible in the bungalow where Chicharrón has his final death and Hector fetches the guitar. At the beginning of the film, a trumpet and record player are the two items (presumably belonging to Hector) thrown out by Imelda when she first bans music. Also in Hector's photo he has one dimple just like Miguel. And the guitar also has a gold tooth on the headstock, just like Hector has. These are all hints implying Hector is Miguel's real great great grandfather.
Throughout the film we see the photo of Miguel's great great grandfather, with the face torn off. Before the true identity is revealed, there is a clue in the photo that the figure is not who Miguel thinks it is. The belt buckle seen shows two guitars crossing, implying a double act (I.e. the act of Hector and Ernesto). Whenever we see Ernesto's belt buckle in the film, it just has a flourished decoration, no guitars.
Ernesto de la Cruz is similar to Charles Muntz from Up (2009). Both of these characters had been idolised by the film's protagonists, both had been accused of being a fraud (fabricating a bird skeleton in Muntz's case, stealing songs in Ernesto's case), and both were revealed as the film's main antagonists through plot twists.
When Miguel plays 'Remember Me' to Mama Coco, in a desperate attempt to get her to remember her father, she joins in at almost exactly the same point she did when Hector sang it to her as a young girl, earlier in the film.
Shares plot elements from previous Pixar films Up (2009) and Inside Out (2015). The former also has a lead who idolizes a character who would later be revealed as the main antagonist. With the latter, a female character starts to forget one of the characters who is starting to become non-existent.
Ernesto de la Cruz is the fifth character in a Pixar animated film to be revealed as the main antagonist in a surprising plot twist. The other four Pixar films to feature such a character are Toy Story 2 (1999) with Stinky Pete the Prospector, Monsters, Inc. (2001) with Henry J. Waternoose III, Up (2009) with Charles Muntz, and Cars 2 (2011) with Sir Miles Axelrod.
In Mexican folklore, "Coco" refers to a ghost who comes from the land of the dead. The monster does not appear in this film, but its name is given to a character who is important to the deceased (Hector's daughter).
Ernesto de la Cruz is similar to Gustaeu from Ratatouille (2007). Both are deceased characters that the Main Character idolises (Remy to be a Cook in Gustaeu case, and Miguel to be a Musician in Ernesto's case), only Ernesto had really been a fake from having stolen his goal from Hector, unlike Gustaeu who happened to be a real Cook in his time.
The Movie's same name as a Character for Turns 20 years Old Since first Appeared in Crash Bandicoot 2 Cortex Strikes Back (1997) was The Sister of Crash Bandicoot, She Joins with Her Brother in This Game in Fully Remastered Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy (2017) 20 Years later after the Last Game is Crash Mind Over Mutant (2008), Also the Same Name as a Mascot of Kellogg's Coco Pops as Coco the Monkey