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Finding Nemo

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Finding Nemo

Original theatrical release poster
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Lee Unkrich (co-director)
Produced by Graham Walters
John Lasseter (executive)
Jinko Gotoh (associate)
Screenplay by Andrew Stanton
Bob Peterson
David Reynolds
Story by Andrew Stanton
Starring Albert Brooks
Ellen DeGeneres
Alexander Gould
Willem Dafoe
Brad Garrett
Joe Ranft
Allison Janney
Vicki Lewis
Austin Pendleton
Stephen Root
Geoffrey Rush
Nicholas Bird
Barry Humphries
Lulu Ebeling
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography Sharon Calahan
Jeremy Lasky
Editing by David Ian Salter
Studio Pixar Animation Studios
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Buena Vista Distribution
Release date(s)
  • May 30, 2003 (2003-05-30)
Running time 105 minutes
Language English
Budget $94 million
Box office $867,893,978

Finding Nemo is a 2003 American computer-animated comedy-drama film written by Andrew Stanton, directed by Stanton and Lee Unkrich and produced by Pixar Animation Studios. It tells the story of a journey, of an overly protective clownfish Marlin ( Albert Brooks) in search for his home, his son Nemo and to return home in the Coral reef as a changed Fish, Marlin helped by a regal tang called Dory ( Ellen DeGeneres), who also help him search for his son Nemo ( Alexander Gould), in the vast ocean of the Great Barrier Reef. Seeking help from other creatures on his journey, Marlin learns to take risks and to let Nemo take care of himself.

The film received overwhelmingly positive reviews and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It was the 2nd highest-grossing film of 2003, behind Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, earning a total of $868 million worldwide. Finding Nemo is also the best-selling DVD of all time, with over 40 million copies sold as of 2006 and is the 2nd highest-grossing G-rated movie of all time, after Pixar's own Toy Story 3. In 2008, the American Film Institute named it the 10th greatest animated film ever made during their 10 Top 10.


After his wife Coral and the rest of their offspring are eaten by a scary barracuda, Marlin, an apprehensive fish who lives on the Great Barrier Reef, is very over-protective of his only child left. His son, Nemo, has an abnormally small right fin, his "lucky fin", which causes Marlin to worry over his swimming ability. On his first day of school, Nemo boldly ventures away from the reef and touches the bottom of a boat. This enrages Marlin, and starts an argument in front of Nemo's classmates. To his father's horror, Nemo is captured by a scuba diver and driven away in the boat.

In search of help, Marlin meets Dory, a naïve but optimistic blue fish with short-term memory loss. While meeting would-be vegetarian sharks Bruce, Anchor and Chum, Marlin discovers a diver's mask that was dropped from the boat. During a hazardous struggle with an anglerfish in the deep sea, Dory is able to read an address written on the mask and discovers that it is from a place in Sydney. After receiving directions from a large school of fish, Marlin and Dory set out to find Sydney. They encounter dangerous jellyfish and later befriend a surf cultured turtle named Crush while "riding" the East Australian Current (EAC). In the current, Marlin reluctantly shares the details of his journey with a group of young turtles, and eventually, his story reaches Sydney through word of mouth.

Meanwhile, Nemo's captor, a dentist, drops him into a fish tank in his office on Sydney Harbour, and Nemo meets its residents, a group of fish called the "Tank Gang". The gang is led by a crafty and ambitious moorish idol fish named Gill. The fish are frightened to learn that the dentist plans to give Nemo to his niece, Darla, who has previously killed a pet fish in a bag of water by shaking it. Gill gives Nemo a role in his most recent escape plan, which involves jamming the tank's filter and forcing the dentist to remove the fish from the tank while he cleans it manually. Nemo attempts to jam the filter using a rock, and his first attempt fails and nearly kills him, but he later succeeds after Nigel the pelican visits with news of Marlin's journey. The plan, however, is thwarted when the dentist installs a more advanced filter and has no need to take the fish out of the tank.

Upon leaving the EAC, Marlin and Dory become lost in a huge cloud of polluted water, and are trapped inside the mouth of a blue whale. The whale carries them to Sydney Harbour, where Marlin reluctantly trusts Dory and allows himself to be ejected from the whale's blowhole at the risk of being eaten. They are then met by Nigel, who recognizes Marlin after hearing stories of him and transports him and Dory to the dentist's office. By this time, the dentist has put Nemo into a bag and is preparing to give him to Darla, but Nemo plays dead in hopes of saving himself and the dentist prepares to toss Nemo in the trash bin, but Marlin, Dory, and Nigel enter in the nick of time and cause a commotion that makes some patients in the waiting room think that the dentist has gone crazy. Marlin sees Nemo and mistakes this act for the actual death of his son and the dentist finally throws them out. After another chaotic struggle, Gill helps Nemo escape into a drain through a sink plug-hole.

Overcome with despair, Marlin leaves Dory and swims back toward his home. Without Marlin, Dory loses her memory and becomes confused, but meets Nemo, who has escaped into the ocean through an underwater drain pipe. Dory at first does not realise who Nemo is, but her memory is suddenly restored after she reads the word "Sydney", and she guides Nemo to Marlin. The two joyfully reunite, but shortly afterwards, Dory is caught in a fishing net among a school of grouper. Nemo convinces Marlin to let him attempt to save Dory, by entering the net and telling the school to swim downward - a technique he learned from the Tank Gang. The fish succeed and escape, and Marlin, Nemo and Dory return to their home on reef. No longer overprotective or doubtful of his son's safety, Marlin sees Nemo off as he leaves for school.

A short scene after the film's conclusion shows the dentist complaining about the breakage of the new tank filter. The Tank Gang have escaped into the harbour, but realize they are still confined to the bags of water that the dentist put them into when cleaning the tank. At that, Bloat asks Gill "Now what?"


  • Albert Brooks as Marlin, a cowardly ocellaris clownfish, Nemo's overprotective father.
  • Ellen DeGeneres as Dory, a pacific blue tang with short-term memory loss, she accompanies Marlin on his journey to find Nemo.
  • Alexander Gould as Nemo, a fun loving juvenile ocellaris clownfish, the title character, Marlin's son.
  • Willem Dafoe as Gill, a moorish idol and the leader of the aquarium fish.
  • Brad Garrett as Bloat, a pufferfish and an aquarium member.
  • Allison Janney as Peach, a starfish, an aquarium member and often the group's spotter.
  • Austin Pendleton as Gurgle, a royal gramma, an aquarium member who has molysmophobia.
  • Stephen Root as Bubbles, a yellow tang, an aquarium member who is a bubble-maniac.
  • Vicki Lewis as Deb, a four-striped damselfish, an aquarium member who calls her own reflection—who she thinks is her sister -- "Flo".
  • Joe Ranft as Jacques, a pacific cleaner shrimp, an aquarium member and the group's cleanser.
  • Geoffrey Rush as Nigel, a brown pelican who befriends the aquarium group.
  • Andrew Stanton as Crush, an extreme green sea turtle who advises Marlin on raising children.
  • Elizabeth Perkins as Coral, an ocellaris clownfish and Marlin's wife who was killed by a barracuda along with almost all of her offspring she gave birth to.
  • Nicholas Bird as Squirt, a juvenile green sea turtle and Crush's son.
  • Bob Peterson as Mr. Ray, an spotted eagle ray and the reef school's teacher.
  • Barry Humphries as Bruce, a great white shark who is the head of an abstinence group of sharks who don't eat fish.
  • Eric Bana as Anchor, a hammerhead shark in Bruce's abstinence group.
  • Bruce Spence as Chum, a mako shark in Bruce's abstinence group.
  • Jordy Ranft as Tad, a juvenile yellow longnose butterflyfish.
  • Erica Beck as Pearl, a juvenile flapjack octopus.
  • Erik Per Sullivan as Sheldon, a juvenile seahorse.
  • John Ratzenberger as the school of moonfish.
  • Bill Hunter as Dr. Philip Sherman, the dentist who caught Nemo.
  • Lulu Ebeling as Darla Sherman, Dr. Sherman's niece.
  • Rove McManus as a crab
  • Robbie Williams sings Beyond the Sea.
  • Frank Welker as the Barracuda, the Anglerfish, the Jellyfish, the Blue Whale and the seagulls.


In an interview with National Geographic magazine, Andrew Stanton stated that the idea for the character of Nemo came from a photograph of two clownfish peeking out of an anemone:

"It was so arresting. I had no idea what kind of fish they were, but I couldn't take my eyes off them. And as an entertainer, the fact that they were called clownfish—it was perfect. There's almost nothing more appealing than these little fish that want to play peekaboo with you."

Pre-production of the film took place in early 1997. Film production began, according to IMDb, in January 2000 with a crew of 180. It was Pixar's final use of Sun Microsystems.

In an interview, Megan Mullally revealed that she was originally doing a voice in the film. According to Mullally, the producers were quite disappointed to learn that the voice of her character Karen Walker on the television show Will & Grace wasn't her natural speaking voice. The producers hired her anyway, and then strongly encouraged her to use her Karen Walker voice for the role. When Mullally refused, she was fired.

The movie was dedicated to Glenn McQueen, a Pixar animator who died of melanoma in October 2002.


It is also highly critically acclaimed, as it currently holds a 98% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes with 100% by top critics, an average of 89% on Metacritic and four stars from Empire. Roger Ebert gave it four stars, saying "one of those rare movies where I wanted to sit in the front row and let the images wash out to the edges of my field of vision."

The film's prominent use of clownfish prompted mass purchase of the animal as pets in the United States, even though the movie portrayed the use of fish as pets negatively and that saltwater aquariums are notably tricky and expensive to maintain. As of 2003, in Vanuatu, clownfish were being caught on a large scale for sale as pets, motivated by the demand.

At the same time, the film had a quote that "all drains lead back to the ocean" (Nemo escapes from the aquarium by going down a sink drain, ending up in the sea). Since water typically undergoes treatment before leading to the ocean, the JWC Environmental company quipped that a more realistic title for the movie might be Grinding Nemo. However, in Sydney, much of the sewer system does pass directly to outfall pipes deep offshore, without a high level of treatment (although pumping and some filtering occur.) Additionally, according to the DVD, there was a cut sequence with Nemo going through a treatment plant's mechanisms before ending up in the ocean pipes. However, in the final product, logos for "Sydney Water Treatment" are featured prominently along the path to the ocean, implying that Nemo did pass through some water treatment.

Tourism in Australia strongly increased during the summer and autumn of 2003, with many tourists wanting to swim off the coast of Eastern Australia to "find Nemo." The Australian Tourism Commission (ATC) launched several marketing campaigns in China and the USA in order to improve tourism in Australia many of them using Finding Nemo movie clips. Queensland, Australia also used Finding Nemo to draw tourists to promote its state for vacationers.

Box-office performance

Finding Nemo set a record as the highest-grossing opening weekend for an animated feature, making $70,251,710 (surpassed a year later -in 2004- by Shrek 2, which was in turn out-grossed by Shrek the Third in 2007). It earned $339,714,978 in the U.S.A. and Canada and $528,179,000 overseas for a worldwide total of $867,893,978. It was the second highest-grossing movie of 2003, behind The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Domestically, overseas and worldwide, it was the highest-grossing Disney·Pixar film, up until 2010 when Toy Story 3 surpassed it ($415.0 million domestically, $648.2 million overseas and $1.063 billion worldwide).

Finding Nemo became the highest-grossing animated film in the U.S.A. and Canada ($339.7 million), overseas ($528.2 million) and worldwide ($867.9 million), in all three occasions having outgrossed The Lion King ($328,541,776 in North America, $455,300,000 overseas and $783,841,776 worldiwde). In 2004, it was overtaken by Shrek 2 domestically ($441,226,247) and recently by Toy Story 3 ($415,004,880). Overseas, it was surpassed by Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs ($690.1 million) and Toy Story 3 ($648.2 million). Worldwide, it now ranks fourth among animated movies after Toy Story 3 ($1,063,161,943), Shrek 2 ($919,838,758) and Ice Age 3 ($886,686,817).

Among its international markets, in many it had impressive box-office runs. In Japan, it ultimately grossed $102,441,470 becoming the highest-grossing Western animated film of all time until it was out-grossed by Toy Story 3 ($126.7 million) and currently ranks eleventh on the country's all-time chart. $20 million-plus-grossing markets include the ones following. In UK, Ireland and Malta, it grossed £37,178,973 ($67,117,404) being the seventh best animation film. In France and the Maghreb region ($64,781,395), it is third among animation films behind Ice Age 3 and Ratatouille and 8th best film on the all-time chart. In Germany ($53,926,684), it is third behind the two first Ice Age sequels, while in Spain ($29,462,544), in Italy ($27,701,112) and in Australia ($26,820,431) it also had above-modest but not exceptional earnings.

Environmental Concerns and consequences

The reaction to the film by the general public has led to environmental devastation for the clown fish and has provoked an outcry from several environmental protection agencies, including Marine Aquarium Council, Australia. Apparently the demand for tropical fish skyrocketed after the film's release. This has caused reef species decimation in Vanuatu and many other reef areas.

Even more bizarre, after seeing the film, some aquarium owners released their pets into the ocean, but the wrong ocean. This has introduced species harmful to the indigenous environment and is harming reefs worldwide as well.

Behind the scenes

The character, Bruce, shares his name with the mechanical sharks built for the 1975 production of Jaws, collectively nicknamed "Bruce" by the production team after Steven Spielberg's lawyer, Bruce Ramer.


Finding Nemo won the Academy Award and Saturn Award for Best Animated Film. It also won the award for best Animated Film at the Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards, the Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards, the National Board of Review Awards, the Online Film Critics Society Awards, and the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards.

The film received many awards, including:

  • Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards for Favorite Movie and Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie, Ellen DeGeneres.

Finding Nemo was also nominated for:

  • Two Chicago Film Critics Association Awards for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress, Ellen DeGeneres
  • A Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
  • Two MTV Movie Awards

In June 2008 the American Film Institute revealed its "Ten top Ten", the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres, after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Finding Nemo was acknowledged as the 10th best film in the animation genre. It was the most recently released film among all ten lists, and one of only three movies made after the year 2000, the others being Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Shrek.


Theme Park Attractions

Finding Nemo has inspired numerous attractions and properties at Disney Parks around the world.

  • Disneyland Resort
  • 2007 Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage ( Disneyland Park)
  • 2005 Turtle Talk with Crush ( Disney California Adventure)
  • Walt Disney World
  • 2004 Turtle Talk with Crush ( Epcot)
  • 2007 The Seas with Nemo & Friends ( Epcot)
  • 2012 Disney's Art of Animation Resort
  • Disneyland Resort Paris
  • 2007 Crush's Coaster ( Walt Disney Studios Park)
  • Tokyo Disney Resort
  • 2009 Turtle Talk with Crush ( Tokyo DisneySea)
  • Hong Kong Disneyland
  • 2008 Turtle Talk with Crush ( Disneyland Park)

Finding Nemo - The Musical


The stage musical Tarzan Rocks! occupied the Theatre in the Wild at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida from 1999 to 2006. When, in January 2006, it closed, it was rumored that a musical adaptation of Finding Nemo would replace it. This was confirmed in April 2006, when Disney announced that the adaptation, with new songs written by Tony Award-winning Avenue Q composer Robert Lopez and his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, would "combine puppets, dancers, acrobats and animated backdrops" and open in late 2006. Tony Award-winning director Peter Brosius signed on to direct the show, with Michael Curry (puppet designer), who designed puppets for Disney's successful stage version of The Lion King, serving as leading puppet and production designer.

Anderson-Lopez said that the couple agreed to write the adaptation of "one of their favorite movies of all time" after considering "The idea of people coming in [to see the musical] at 4, 5 or 6 and saying, 'I want to do that'....So we want to take it as seriously as we would a Broadway show." To condense the feature-length film to thirty minutes, she said she and Lopez focused on a single theme from the movie, the idea that "The world's dangerous and beautiful."

The forty-minute show (which is performed five times daily) opened on January 2, 2007. Several musical numbers took direct inspiration from lines in the film, including "(In The) Big Blue World," "Fish Are Friends, Not Food," "Just Keep Swimming," and "Go With the Flow." In January 2007, a New York studio recording of the show was released on iTunes, with Lopez and Anderson-Lopez providing the voices for Marlin and Dory, respectively. Avenue Q star Stephanie D'Abruzzo also appeared on the recording, as Sheldon/Deb.

Nemo was the first non-musical animated film to which Disney added songs to produce a stage musical. In 2009 Finding Nemo - The Musical was honored with a Thea award for Best Live Show from the Themed Entertainment Association.

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