Following the successful Disney Plus release of Soul, we're now being treated to a second new Pixar film on the streaming service only six months later - with a very fitting summer showing for Luca.
Set in the sun-soaked Italian Riviera during the 1950s, the film follows the titular Luca (Jacob Tremblay) and his new best friend Alberto(Jack Dylan Grazer) who decide to explore a quaint Italian town during one life-changing summer.
There's just one slight hitch - Luca and Alberto are actually sea monsters, and must disguise themselves as humans to avoid the wrath of the fearful locals.
At a time when many of us have not been abroad for some time, Luca actor Jacob Tremblay is hoping it will bring back memories of holidays gone by.
"I really loved watching the friendship between Luca, Giulia and Alberto," Tremblay said in a recent featurette. "I'm hoping that it'll bring back a lot of memories for people, of summers when they were kids."
The upcoming Pixar flick, also featuring the voices of Maya Rudolph, Jim Gaffigan and Sandy Martin, was due to be released in theatres this summer, however Disney recently announced that it will debut on Disney Plus instead, where it will stream exclusively at no extra cost.
Here's everything you need to know about Luca.
Luca release date
Pixar's Luca is skipping the cinemas and instead is going straight to Disney Plus on Friday 18th June.
While Luca is following the footsteps of recent Pixar titles like Soul in its exclusive streaming release, the film's director Enrico Casarosa telling press at a preview event (via Digital Spy) that he was "sad that we can't experience this together in the theatres".
"We make these movies for the large screen, and for them to be experienced together. In a few parts of the world they will be experienced that way. But Disney+ is wonderful because so many people will get to see it. So many kids will get to see it," he added.
The Luca cast stars Room's Jacob Tremblay as the titular Luca, while We Are Who We Are's Jack Dylan Glazer voices his best friend Alberto.
The rest of the cast includes Maya Rudolph (Daniela Paguro), Jim Gaffigan (Lorenzo Paguro), Emma Berman (Giulia Marcovaldo), Marco Barricelli (Massimo Marcovaldo), Saverio Raimondo (Ercole Visconti) and Sandy Martin.
Cooking fans, in particular, may be surprised to hear that none other than celebrity chef Gino D'Acampo will appear in the Pixar film, cameoing as the voice of Eugenio the priest in the UK version of Luca.
"It’s a wonderful feeling to join the world of Disney and Pixar, especially in a film that feels so close to my heart and reminds me of my summers in Italy," D'Acampo said. "I can’t wait for audiences to enjoy the film on Disney+, and I’m honoured to bring my character Eugenio to life in the UK."
Disney released an official trailer for Luca towards the end of April, teasing the film's Italian soundtrack as well as Tremblay and Glazer's vocal performances as secret sea monsters Luca and Alberto.
Towards the end of May, Disney released a featurette ahead of Luca's release, which sees cast members Jim Gaffigan, Maya Rudolph, Jacob Tremblay, Emma Berman, Jack Dylan Grazer and director Enrico Casarosa speak about the friendship between Luca and Alberto.
"I had the luck of meeting my best friend Alberto when I was 11. He had a ton of passion and was constantly testing his own fears," director Casarosa says in the clip. "I wonder if I would have had the courage to go and chase my career in animation had I not met my best friend."
What is Luca about?
Luca is a coming-of-age fantasy comedy set on the Italian Riviera in seaside town Portorosso. The feature film stars Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder) as a young boy called Luca who sets out to have an unforgettable summer with his newfound best friend Alberto (IT's Jack Dylan Grazer).
However, both are harbouring a deep dark secret that could threaten their fun plans to come – both Alberto and Luca are actually sea monsters from a world below the water's surface.
Written by author and screenwriter Jesse Andrews (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) and Soul's Mike Jones, the animated feature marks Enrico Casarosa's directorial debut.
For more information on the plot, you can read our Luca review.
Where is Luca set?
Luca is set in Portorosso, a fictional town located on the Italian Riviera in the Liguria region of north-western Italy.
While the town itself is fictional, production designer Daniela Strijleva told Condé Nast Traveller that Portorosso is an amalgamation of “the best parts of every one of the five real towns” of Cinque Terre, a string of famous century-old settlements on the Riviera coastline.
In particular, the piazza in Pontorosso closely matches the famous Vernazza piazza, while a famous red house in Riomaggiore harbour was the inspiration for Julia's house. Manarola and Corniglia were also highlighted as important influences, while outside of Cinque Terre old ‘50s photos of Camogli harbour were the inspiration for the buildings and colours of the film.
The town's name is a reference to Studio Ghibli film Porco Rosso, and this being Pixar the town has already been the focus of an easter egg - Portorosso can be seen in a travel agency's window advertisement in Soul.
Who is the villain?
Details are being kept under wraps, but the family film's villain has been revealed as local bully Ercole Visconti, and will be voiced by Italian comedian Saverio Raimondo. Rich and arrogant, Ercole has repeatedly won the town’s Portorosso Cup race and is followed everywhere by obedient followers Ciccio and Guido.
“Ercole was a lot of fun to write because he’s a narcissist,” screenwriter Jesse Andrews told Mama's Geeky. “But like most narcissists, he’s incredibly insecure. He doesn’t want anyone else stealing attention from him. He’s a small fish who thinks he’s a huge fish because the pond isn’t very big.”
What sea monster is Luca?
Luca and is his sea monster family are not based on a specific sea monster, but is rather an amalgamation of creatures from Italian myths, Genoa's regional folklore and artwork from vintage Italian maps, with the aim of creating a creature that felt authentic to the area.
"I always found the old sea monsters on maps really fascinating. The mystery of the sea was so represented in the weird creatures that we used to draw. And that area has a lot of wonderful myths," director Enrico Casarosa told EW of Genoa.
However, some of the sea monster features were plucked from very real elements of nature - their underwater movements were based on how marine iguanas swim, their fins were inspired by tuna, and the team looked at chameleons for the transformation scenes from human to sea monsters.
“We looked at a lot of references just to see what our options were,” character supervisor Sajan Skaria told The Verge. “Especially with nature, it’s such a great place to go looking for things because it’s organic. We wanted to get away from the mechanical as much as possible.”
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However, the ultimate inspiration for the sea monsters was the idea of feeling different, with Casarosa drawing on his childhood experiences for the film.
“We hope that ‘sea monster’ could be a metaphor for all [manners] of feeling different — like being a teen or even pre-teen — any moment where you feel odd," Casarosa told Disney. “It felt like a wonderful way to talk about that and having to accept ourselves first, whatever way we feel different.”
Luca arrives on Disney Plus on Friday 18th June. You can sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year now. Looking for something else to watch on Disney Plus? Check out our best Disney Plus movies guide or best Disney Plus series guide. For what’s on TV tonight check out our TV Guide.