Monsters Inc. Original plot

Monsters concept art; Barrymore can be seen on stage.

Imagine Sulley, a scrawny little monster dreaming of becoming the star of a live TV show. Sounds different from the big, strong, and the already successful Sulley we all know, right? When the story for Monsters Inc. was first pitched at Pixar it was drastically different than from the final outcome that we saw. This early version of Monsters Inc. wasn’t even called Monsters Inc. It was originally titled Monsters. Main characters’ general positions remained in the final cut of Monsters Inc., but even they were very different. Sulley has the same general role of not so scary Hob, Boo takes place of eight year old fearless Raymond, and Mr. Waternoose became the new J.L. (as in John Lasseter) , who was the TV Broadcast’s director.

1940s / early 1950s-era. Monstropolis

Monsters (Act One of the 1996 version) still took place in the “monster world”,but instead of the normal modern-day setting that made the final cut, Monsters takes place during the late 1940s / early 1950s-era. Scare floor? No, instead Monsters took you to a television studio theatre in downtown Monstropolis. Monsters was about a top scarer actor named Barrymore. He would make the audience cheer, applaud and adore him with his skills as a scarer actor. The television studio would take monster actors into childrens’ bedrooms in the human world to scare them, just as in Monsters Inc.

"Hob", the original base character for Sulley

One night while on air, Barrymore’s performance goes disastrously wrong. The new child he scares that night, eight year old Raymond, is fascinated with monsters. So rather than getting scared as expected by Barrymore and the rest of monstropolis, he reacts with excitement and curiosity. Surprised at this child’s reaction and unsure of what to do, Barrymore collapses under pressure and runs of stage, embarrassed. Hob, the little star-struck dreamer now finally gets a chance, J.L. is now desperate, after seeing the slightest bit of resemblance between Barrymore and this under-rehearsed new hire, J.L. decides to put Hob on stage. Hob finally gets his turn in the spotlight, but being the clumsy monster he is, he trips all over Raymond’s room (the same little boy from the night before). Embarrassed just like Barrymore, Hob runs off stage. Terrified.

Hob is devastated, of course things can’t get any worse for Hob, can they? Indeed, after everyone else left and Hob is backstage miserably reflecting on that night’s performance (well not much of a performance), Hob realizes that in all the chaos in Raymond’s room he left his script behind. He then decides to secretly go back into the human world to reclaim his lost script. Expecting to find Raymond asleep, he finds him awake… and reading the script! Raymond exclaims that the script isn’t even scary, so Hob challenges him to make it scarier. Raymond comes up with many amazing ideas that would have knocked it out of the park. Impressed, Hob decides to explain to Raymond the reasons behind Barrymore and his failed attempts at scaring. He explains everything to the little boy in return for scaring tips. The two form a close friendship.

Act two is centered around Barrymore being fired from the show because Hob, with Raymond’s help, is receiving better ratings than Barrymore was when he was scaring. In act three Barrymore exposes Hob’s secret interaction with a human scandal. In the end Hob stands up for his friend, but gets in trouble and is banished from the monster world. Apparently Hob gets hired by the tooth fairy, so Hob still has a way to see Raymond.

There are of major differences between these this original version and the final outcome we all saw, like the fact that the company is a TV show, not an energy company. Also, even though the major roles like Hob and Raymond are still filled there were drastic characteristic changes that were made, like really almost every aspect of Hob’s character was changed. The “Hob” we know is strong, fierce, and most important: scary.

I could tell that Raymond’s character was changed to a female very early on, because the earliest concept art sketches of Hob and his new friend featured little girl (which soon became Boo), instead of Raymond. Not in one sketch was there a male child. Later, as in the movie, Boo’s age is changed from eight to two.

Early sketches of Hob/Sulley with Boo

The skeleton of the two versions are the same. A monster needs to scare children in the human world, for their own respective reasons, and then messes up to where that monster needs to go into the human world. That monster starts to spend more time with the human… too much time, so much to where that monster gets in trouble. The monster is banished, but in the end finds a way to see their human friend. There were obviously many aspects of Pete Docter’s original version that didn’t fit, and really just wouldn’t ever work out. But I found this version very interesting, even though it is hard to imagine a scrawny Sulley and an eight-year-old male Boo.

source: Jim Hill Media

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