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Production Information
THE BOOK OF LIFE, a vibrant animated fantasy-adventure, tells the legend of Manolo, a conflicted hero and dreamer who sets off on an epic quest through magical, mythical and wondrous worlds in order to reunite with his one true love and defend his village.

But Manolo and his equally courageous best friend Joaquin are not your typical Prince Charmings; the object of their affections is far from being your average princess; and THE BOOK OF LIFE is a fairy tale that doesn't go by the book.

Presenting a grand mythology set in visually spectacular worlds never seen before, the film brings together director Jorge R. Gutierrez's unique visual style and a crowd-pleasing mix of adventure, action, comedy, romance and music.

Its journey to the big screen began with, appropriately enough, a friendship. Producer Brad Booker, a Reel FX development executive, had known Gutierrez for over a decade and was eager to collaborate with him. The two filmmakers knew the project needed the perfect creative partner to help guide its path.

Gutierrez's first choice: legendary director, producer and author Guillermo del Toro, who like Gutierrez hails from Mexico. Gutierrez felt del Toro's authentic perspective and unique aesthetic sensibility were a perfect match for the film.

Gutierrez and Booker showed up at the home of del Toro, bearing gifts and artwork from the film. "Jorge arrived with a beautiful trunk filled with skulls, flowers, and amazing images," del Toro remembers. Del Toro, who is one of today's busiest and most in-demand filmmakers, was initially hesitant to take on another assignment, but he was drawn to Gutierrez's vision and stunning imagery.

"Jorge had some beautiful and very powerful keyframes for his story," del Toro adds. "When I saw these images, we started talking, and little by little I fell into his trap."

Del Toro was equally impressed by Gutierrez's passion for what would become THE BOOK OF LIFE. "Jorge is his movie," he says, "and the movie is an imprint of his personality. Jorge's ideas for THE BOOK OF LIFE started with his connection to his homeland of Mexico, and presenting an exciting, never-before-experienced depiction of that country, its people and its traditions - all in a way that would be accessible to audiences around the world."

Gutierrez, in turn, was quite simply thrilled that del Toro had come aboard as a producer on THE BOOK OF LIFE. "I feel like I'm getting a Ph.D. in cinema from a very loving but strict professor," he says of del Toro's involvement in the picture.

Adds producer Brad Booker: "Guillermo brings an authenticity and passion for this world and story. He's a visionary filmmaker and has been tremendously supportive of Jorge's ideas."

Also playing a key role in the project's creative journey was 20th Century Fox Animation, which co-financed, co-developed and oversaw THE BOOK OF LIFE with Reel FX from its early stages through its theatrical release.

THE BOOK OF LIFE brings together Gutierrez's perspective of his native country with a story to which everyone can relate. He explains: "This is a very personal movie. The inspiration comes from my family history and childhood experiences."

Still, Gutierrez admits he embellished some elements. "My grandfather Luis used to tell me, 'Jorgito, don't ever let the truth get in the way of a good story!' And that was the moment I fell in love with storytelling."

Gutierrez's passion for the story, characters and their world points to the film's broad appeal. "If you're telling a story and want it be universal, then you have to be specific," del Toro explains. "If the filmmaker loves the story and characters, then audiences will love it. And if a filmmaker feels it's powerful, more people will love the story he or she is telling because it's powerful. And that's exactly what Jorge has done with THE BOOK OF LIFE."

One of the many traditions Gutierrez explores for his tale is The Day of the Dead, a holiday that celebrates the lives of those who came before us. "THE BOOK OF LIFE is not about The Day of the Dead, but we use it as the canvas on which we paint our story," Gutierrez explains. "It's more than a holiday; it's a philosophy. The core belief behind The Day of the Dead is that as long as you remember those who came before you, and as long as you tell their stories, cook their dishes, and sing their songs - they're with you. They live inside your heart."

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