Monsters University, the prequel to 2001’s Monsters, Inc. is still very much in the early development stages and isn’t scheduled to be released until the summer of 2013, but today the crowds in the arena at the D23 Expo got a sneak peek at the upcoming Pixar sequel. While they didn’t have any actual footage to show, director Dan Scanlon took the audience behind the scenes and made some pretty big casting announcements.

For starters, in addition to Billy Crystal and John Goodman, who will be returning as Mike Wazowski and Sully respectively, Steve Buscemi is scheduled to be back as Randall Boggs, the chameleon-esque antagonist from the first film. New to the film will be Dave Foley (who Pixar fans will remember as the voice of Flick in A Bugs Life), Julia Sweeny, Joel Murray and Peter Sohn (who previously did the voice of Emile in Ratatoille).

Scanlon also took the opportunity to talk a bit about the plot of the film. According to the director, Sully and Mike have actually known each other since grade school, but actually have always hated each other. Both are accepted into Monsters University and are upset about the other one attending the same school. What’s interesting is that both monsters are training to become scarers, which is equivalent to being an astronaut or a football star in the monsters universe.

The presentation also included plenty of concept art, which included not only looks at the Monsters University campus, but also character designs. Considerably younger, Mike and Sully both looks considerably different. Sully is shorter, skinnier and shaggier (like many college freshman) while Mike is smaller and wears a retainer. The campus itself is huge, and made to fit creatures of all sizes (Scanlon says that doors and stairways have been constructed in many different shapes). The school for scarers is one of the oldest on campus and has a huge green dome with spikes. As for the other students, there are many cliques including cheerleaders, jocks, goths and nerds. The school also has a mascot called “Archie The Scare Pig” which looks like a strange deformed, monster version of a pig.

As for research, Dan Scanlon said that he and some of the Pixar animators visited colleges as research. Said Scanlon, they all went to art school so that they had no idea what a real college looks like. It may be a while before we see any more from the film, but from what we saw today they’re off to a great start.
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