Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall-E, and all of Pixar's other beloved films could have never come to be if things had gone just a bit differently back in 1985. As Autoblog points out, Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull explained in his recent book, Creativity, Inc. how GM and Philips came within one week of signing a deal to purchase Pixar from Lucasfilm back in the ’80s — a deal that likely would have resulted in Pixar being used for its computing technology, and never creating a movie.
"GM and Philips would likely put an end to our dream."
At the time, Lucasfilm had been trying to sell Pixar, then just a computer division, for well over a year due to budget constraints. Catmull says that GM was interested in using Pixar's computers to model objects for car design and that Philips was interested in Pixar's technology for rendering volumes of data. He says that both agreed to pay Lucasfilm $15 million for Pixar and then invest another $15 million into Pixar itself, seemingly as a spun-off business.
Catmull doesn't say why the deal fell through, but he's glad that it did. "We'd known from the outset that entering into a relationship with GM and Philips would likely put an end to our dream of making the first animated feature film," Catmull writes, "but that was a risk no matter who we joined up with." Fortunately for fans of good cinema, Steve Jobs came along later that year — and somehow, he got away with spinning off Pixar for only two investments of $5 million, rather than the that $15 million GM and Philips would have paid.