Monsters University is a 2013 American computer-animated monster comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It was directed and written by Dan Scanlon (in his feature directoral debut) and produced by Kori Rae, with John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich as executive producers. The music for the film was composed by Randy Newman, making it his seventh collaboration with Pixar. It is a prequel to Monsters, Inc. (2001), making it the only time Pixar has made a prequel film. Monsters University tells the story of the main characters of Monsters, Inc., James P. Sullivan and Mike Wazowski, and their time at college, where they start off as rivals, but slowly become best friends. During the time, they must learn to work together, along with Oozma Kappa members, in order to make his dream reality and things right. John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, Bob Peterson, and John Ratzenberger reprise their roles as James P. Sullivan, Mike Wazowski, Randall Boggs, Roz, and the Abominable Snowman, respectively, while the new cast were joined by Helen Mirren, Alfred Molina, Peter Sohn, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, Charlie Day, and Nathan Fillion. Bonnie Hunt, who voiced Ms. Flint in the first film, voices Mike's grade school teacher Ms. Karen Graves.
Disney, as the rights holder, had plans for a sequel to Monsters, Inc. since 2005. Following disagreements with Pixar, Disney tasked its Circle 7 Animation unit to make the film. An early draft of the film was developed; however, Disney's purchase of Pixar in early 2006 led to the cancellation of Circle 7's version of the film. A Pixar-made sequel was confirmed in 2010, and in 2011, it was confirmed that the film would instead be a prequel titled Monsters University.
Monsters University premiered on June 5, 2013 at the BFI Southbank in London, England, and was theatrically released on June 21, 2013, in the United States. It was accompanied in theaters by a short film, The Blue Umbrella, directed by Saschka Unseld. The film received positive reviews from the critics and grossed $743 million worldwide against its $200 million production budget, making it the seventh highest-grossing film of 2013. An animated short film titled Party Central, which takes place shortly after the events of Monsters University, premiered in fall 2013 before being released theatrically with Muppets Most Wanted in 2014.
As a first grader, Mike Wazowski begins to dream of becoming a Scarer - a monster who enters the human world at night to scare children and harvest their screams for energy to power the city of Monstropolis. Eleven years later, Mike enrolls in the Scaring program at Monsters University (MU) and meets classmate James P. "Sulley" Sullivan. Abigail Hardscrabble, dean of MU, warns the students that anyone who does not pass a final exam at the end of the first semester will have to leave the Scaring program.
As the semester progresses, an intense rivalry forms between Mike, who studies hard to improve himself, and Sulley, who relies only on his natural talent and begins to falter. They both attempt to join a fraternity, but only Sulley is accepted into Roar Omega Roar (ROR), the most prestigious house on campus. Hardscrabble tests them separately and fails them both -- Mike for not being scary, Sulley for choosing the wrong approach to scare a child without having all the relevant information about them. They are forced to transfer to a different study program, much to their dismay.
Wanting to prove himself, Mike learns of MU's "Scare Games" competition and makes a deal with Hardscrabble. If his team wins, all of the members will be admitted to the Scaring program, otherwise, he will leave MU. Mike joins Oozma Kappa (OK), a fraternity of misfits, but they are one member short of being able to enter the competition. Sulley offers to join OK, seeing it as his only chance to return to Scaring, and Mike reluctantly accepts.
OK finishes last in the first round but are saved from elimination after another team is disqualified for cheating. During each of the next three rounds, OK steadily improves due to Mike's knowledge of scaring and the others' unique talents. Despite their progress, they face humiliation by rival fraternities, and Hardscrabble questions whether Sulley believes that Mike can be an effective Scarer. Though OK earns a decisive victory over ROR in the final round, Mike discovers afterward that Sulley had tampered with the simulator settings to guarantee a win for OK, causing a heated argument between the two. The other OK members discard their trophy, equally ashamed that Sulley ruined their victory by cheating. Sulley confesses to Hardscrabble what he has done.
Outraged at Sulley's betrayal and still determined to prove that he can become a Scarer, Mike breaks into the school's door lab and enters the human world. He emerges in a summer camp cabin full of children but is unable to scare any of them and flees into the woods. With assistance from the OK members, Sulley sneaks through the door to find Mike, ignoring Hardscrabble's order to stay away from it and let the authorities handle the situation. Sulley finds Mike and tells him that the reason why he cheated was because he was afraid of failing his team and everyone on the campus all because Mike was not scary and admits that despite being a Sullivan, he's not as great of a success as his family. The two reconcile and try to return to MU, but find out that Hardscrabble has deactivated the door.
As police officers begin to chase Mike and Sulley, Mike realizes that they may be able to power the door from their side. Working together, the two scare the officers so badly that their screams overload the door, then return to MU just as it explodes. Mike and Sulley are punished and expelled from MU for their actions, but admits the remaining OK members into the Scaring program for the coming semester, impressed by their performance in the Scare Games.
As Mike and Sulley are leaving the campus, Hardscrabble admits that they have surprised her and expresses her hope that they will continue to do so in the future. Seeing a "help wanted" advertisement for job openings at Monsters, Inc., the two decide to apply and are hired to work in the mailroom. They work their way up to different jobs before being scarer and scare assistant respectively.