Finding Nemo

2003 American computer-animated family film

Finding Nemo is a 2003 American computer-animated comedy adventure movie written and directed by Andrew Stanton, released by Walt Disney Pictures and the fifth film produced by Pixar Animation Studios. It tells the story of the over-protective clownfish named Marlin (Albert Brooks) who searches for his captured son Nemo (Alexander Gould), along with a regal blue tang named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) in Sydney Harbour. Along the way, Marlin learns to take risks and let Nemo take care of himself. It is Pixar's first film to be released in cinemas in the northern hemisphere summer. The film was re-released for the first time in 3D on September 14, 2012 and it was released on Blu-ray on December 4, 2012. A sequel, Finding Dory, was released on January 12, 2016.

Finding Nemo
Directed byAndrew Stanton
Screenplay by
Story byAndrew Stanton
Produced byGraham Walters
Edited byDavid Ian Salter
Music byThomas Newman
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release dates
  • May 18, 2003 (2003-05-18) (Los Angeles)
  • May 30, 2003 (2003-05-30) (United States)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$94 million[1]
Box office$940.3 million[1]

The film received extremely positive reviews and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It was the second highest-grossing film of the year, earning a total of $921 million worldwide.[1] Finding Nemo is also the best-selling DVD of all time, with over 40 million copies sold as of 2011,[2] and was the highest money making G-rated film of all time before The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge On the Run overtook it. It is also the 22nd highest money making film of all time, as well as the 3rd highest money making animated film. In 2008, the American Film Institute named it the tenth greatest animated film ever made during their Top 10.[3]

The movie is dedicated to the memory of Glenn McQueen, who died in 2002, before the movie was released.

Two clownfish, Marlin and his wife Coral are admiring their new home in the Great Barrier Reef and their clutch of eggs that are due to hatch in a few days. Suddenly, a barracuda attacks them and Marlin tries to defend and save his eggs, leaving Marlin unconscious. Coral and all but one of their eggs are also eaten. Marlin names this egg Nemo, a name that Coral liked.

The movie next shows Nemo's first day of school. Nemo has a tiny right fin, because his egg was injured by the barracuda attack. This makes it difficult for him to swim. After Marlin embarrasses Nemo during a school field trip by mistake, Nemo refuses and sneaks away from the reef towards a boat. So he gets captured by scuba divers. As the boat sails away, one of the divers accidentally knocks his diving mask into the water.

While trying to save Nemo, Marlin meets Dory, a good-hearted and optimistic Regal blue tang with short-term memory loss. While meeting three sharks on a fish-free diet, Bruce, a great white shark; Anchor, a hammerhead shark and Chum, a mako shark, Marlin discovers the diver's mask that was dropped from the boat and notices an address written on it. However, when he angrily argues with Dory and accidentally gives her a nosebleed, the scent of blood causes Bruce to lose control of himself and attempt to eat Marlin and Dory. The two escape from Bruce but the mask falls into a trench in the deep sea. During a hazardous struggle with an anglerfish in the trench, Dory realizes she is able to read the address written on the mask, which leads to Sydney, Australia and manages to remember it. She repeats "P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney" to keep it in her memory. After receiving directions to Sydney from a large school of Silver moony, Marlin and Dory accidentally run into a bloom of jellyfish that nearly sting them to death; Marlin falls exhausted after the risky escape and wakes up to see a surf-cultured green sea turtle named Crush, who takes Dory and him on the East Australian Current, referred to as the EAC by the animals. In the current, Marlin shares the story of his journey with a group of young sea turtles who spread the story around the ocean.

Meanwhile, Nemo's captor - P. Sherman, a dentist - places him into a fish tank in his office on Sydney Harbour. There, Nemo meets a group of aquarium fish called the "Tank Gang", led by a crafty and ambitious moorish idol named Gill. The "Tank Gang" includes Peach, a starfish; Bloat, a puffer fish; Bubbles, a Yellow tang; Deb, a Blacktailed humbug Gurgle, a Royal gramma; and Jacques, a pacific cleaner shrimp. The fish are frightened to learn that the dentist plans to give Nemo to his niece, Darla. She is infamous for killing a goldfish given to her previously by constantly shaking the bag. In order to avoid this fate, Gill gives Nemo a role in an escape plan, which involves jamming the tank's filter and forcing the dentist to remove the fish from the tank to clean it manually. The fish could be placed in plastic bags, at which point they could only roll out the window and into the harbor. After a friendly pelican named Nigel visits with news of Marlin's adventure, Nemo succeeds in jamming the filter, but the plan backfires when the dentist installs a new high-tech filter.

While leaving the East Australian Current, Marlin and Dory get lost in the blooms of plankton and krill and are caught by a blue whale. Inside the whale's immense mouth, Marlin tries to escape while Dory talks with it in whale-speak. So, the whale carries them to Sydney Harbour and expels them through his blowhole. They are met by Nigel, who recognizes Marlin from the stories he has heard and rescues him and Dory from a flock of hungry seagulls by scooping them into his beak and taking them to the dentist's man's office. By this time, Darla has arrived and the dentist is prepared to give Nemo to her. Nemo tries to play dead in hopes of saving himself, and, at the same time, Nigel arrives. Marlin sees Nemo and mistakes this act for the actual death of his son. After a struggle, Gill helps Nemo escape into a drain through a sink.

Sad, Marlin leaves Dory and begins to swim back home. Poor Dory then loses her memory and becomes a little worried, but meets Nemo, who has reached the ocean, has no memory of him. As you know, Dory's memory is restored again after she reads the word "Sydney" on a nearby drainpipe and remembering her journey, she guides Nemo to Marlin. After the two joyfully reunite, Dory is caught in a fishing net with a school of grouper. Nemo bravely enters the net and directs the group to swim downward to break the net, reminiscent of a similar scenario that occurred in the fish tank earlier. The fish, including Dory, succeed in breaking the net and escape. After some days, Nemo leaves for school once more and Marlin who is no longer overprotective after all.

Back at the dentist's office, the high-tech filter breaks down and The Tank Gang escape into the harbor. But, they realize that they are trapped in the bags of water that the dentist put them into when cleaning the tank.

Additional voices were provided by Carlos Alazraqui, Jack Angel, James Steve Baker, Bob Bergen, Bobby Block, Sue J. Blu, Geoff Brooks, Jane Catherine Carr, Jennifer Darling, Paul Eiding, Jessie "Michaela J. Murphy" Flower, Aaron Lewis Fors, Brad Greive, Leland Grossman, Jess Harnell, Lili Ishida, Marc Jefferies, Dylan Kasch, Caroline Kindred, Oliver Joseph Kindred, Noah Luke, Sherry Lynn, Daniel B. Mann, Laura Marano, Vanessa Marano, Andrew McDonough, Mickie McGowan, Rove McManus, Alec Medlock, Nicole Joan Miller, Laraine Newman, Annelise G. Nolting, Lisa Peers-Lyleson, Bob Peterson, Jeff Pidgeon, Phil Proctor, Jan Rabson, Kathy M. Ringgold, Daryl Sabara, Evan Sabara, David I. Salter, Eliza Schneider, Emmett Shoemaker, Andrew Stanton, Benjamin Stanton, Lee Unkrich, James Kevin Ward and Kali Whitehurst.[4]


  1. Father and Son by Cat Stevens
  2. Just Keep Swimming by Ellen DeGeneres
  3. Slicin' Sand by Authority Zero
  4. Surfin' Safari by Reel Big Fish
  5. Perfect by Simple Plan
  6. Learn to Fly by Foo Fighters
  7. Become What You Hate by Midtown
  8. Fandango by Bob Bain
  9. Psycho by Bernard Herrmann
  10. Down Under by Men at Work
  11. Beyond the Sea by Robbie Williams



Finding Nemo currently holds a 99% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes with 100% by top critics,[5] and an average of 89% on Metacritic.[6] Roger Ebert gave the film four stars, calling it "one of those rare movies where I always wanted to sit in the front row and let the images wash out to the edges of my field of vision."[7] The late broadway stars Paul Winchell, John Fiedler, and Ken Sansom who were the voices of three of Pooh's friends, Tigger, Piglet, & Rabbit in the Winnie the Pooh franchise, said Finding Nemo was their favorite animated film.[8]

The film's 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 suggested that saltwater aquariums are notably tricky and expensive to maintain.[9] The demand for clownfish was supplied by large-scale harvesting of tropical fish in regions like Vanuatu.[10]

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.[11] However, in Sydney, much of the sewer system does really pass directly to outfall pipes deep offshore, without a high level of treatment (although pumping and some filtering occur).[12] 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 really did pass through some water treatment.

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 clips.[13][14] Queensland also used Finding Nemo to draw tourists to promote its state for vacationers.[15]

On the 3-D re-release, Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly wrote that its emotional power was deepened by "the dimensionality of the oceanic deep" where "the spatial mysteries of watery currents and floating worlds are exactly where 3-D explorers were born to boldly go."[16]

The 3-D re-release also prompted a retrospective on the film then nine years after its initial release. Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger described it as "A genuinely funny and touching film that, in less than a decade, has established itself as a timeless classic,"[17] with Roger Moore of the McClatchy-Tribune News Service calling the movie "the gold standard against which all other modern animated films are measured."[18]

Home media


Finding Nemo was released on DVD and VHS on November 4, 2003. It was Pixar's first movie released on home video in the same year as it's theatrical release. The film was also released on DVD in a "Gold Edition", which came with a Finding Nemo stuffed toy character. The film had a home video release on both Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D on December 4, 2012, with both a 3-disc and a 5-disc set and was released on 4K Ultra-HD on September 10, 2019.



The inspiration for Nemo was made up of multiple experiences. The idea goes back to when director Andrew Stanton was a child, when he loved going to the dentist to see the fish tank, assuming that the fish were from the ocean and wanted to go home.[19] In 1996, shortly after his son was born, he and his family took a trip to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (which was called Marine World at the time). There he saw the shark tube and various exhibits he felt that the underwater world had bene done beautifully in computer animation.[20] Later in 2001, he took his son for a walk in the park, but found that he was overprotecting him constantly and lost an opportunity to have any "father-son experiences" on that day.[19] In an interview with National Geographic magazine, he stated that the idea for the characters of Marlin and 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 wasn't taking 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."[21]

Also, clownfish are very colourful, but don't seem to tend to come out of an anemone very often, and for a character who has to go on a dangerous journey, Stanton felt a clownfish was the perfect kind of fish for the character.[19]

Pre-production of the film took place in early 1997. Stanton began writing the screenplay during the post-production of A Bug's Life. As such, it began production with a complete screenplay, something that co-director Lee Unkrich called "very unusual for an animated film."[19] The artists took scuba diving lessons so they could go and study the coral reef. The idea for the initiation sequence came from a story conference between Andrew Stanton and Bob Peterson while driving to record the actors. Ellen DeGeneres was cast after Stanton was watching Ellen with his wife and seeing Ellen "change the subject five times before finishing one sentence" as Stanton recalled.[19] There was a pelican character known as Gerald (who in the final film ends up swallowing and choking on Marlin and Dory) who was originally a friend of Nigel. They were going to play against each other as Nigel being neat fastidious while Gerald being scruffy and sloppy. However the filmmakers had not found an appropriate scene for them that didn't slow the pace of the picture down, so Gerald's character was minimized.[19]

Stanton himself provided the voice of Crush the sea turtle. Stanton originally did the voice for the film's story reel, and assumed they would find an actor later. When Stanton's performance was popular in test screenings, Stanton decided to keep his performance in the film. Stanton recorded all his dialogue while lying on a sofa in co-director Lee Unkrich's office.[19]

Crush's son Squirt was voiced by Nicholas Bird, the young son of fellow Pixar director Brad Bird. According to Stanton, the elder Bird was playing a tape recording of his young son around the Pixar studios one day. Stanton felt the voice was "this generation's Thumper" and immediately cast Nicholas.[19]

Megan Mullally revealed that she was originally doing a voice in the film. According to Mullally, the producers were dissatisfied to learn that the voice of her character Karen Walker on the television show Will & Grace was not 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 dismissed.[22]

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

Finding Nemo shares many plot elements with Pierrot the Clownfish, a children's book published in 2002, but allegedly conceived in 1995. The author, Franck Le Calvez, sued Disney for infringement of his intellectual rights. The judge ruled against him, citing the color differences between Pierrot and Nemo.[23]

To ensure that the movements of the fish in the film were believable the animators essentially took a crash course in fish biology and oceanography. They visited aquariums, went diving in Hawaii and received in-house lectures from an ichthyologist.[24]

Box office


Finding Nemo earned $380,673,009 in North America, and $540,900,000 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $921,573,009.[1] It is the second highest-grossing film of 2003, behind The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.[25] In North America, outside North America, and worldwide, it was the highest-grossing film, up until 2020 when The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge On the Run surpassed it.[26]

Finding Nemo set an opening-weekend record for an animated feature, making $70,251,710 (first surpassed by Sausage Party). It became the highest-grossing animated film in North America ($339.7 million), outside North America ($528.2 million) and worldwide ($867.9 million), in all three occasions outgrossing The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. In North America, it was surpassed by both Sausage Party in 2016, and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge On the Run in 2020. After the re-release of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in 2016, it stands as the fourth highest-grossing animated film in these regions. Outside North America, it was surpassed by Sausage Party, The Tigger Movie, and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge On the Run. Worldwide, it now ranks third among animated films.[27][28]

The film had impressive box office runs in many international markets. In Japan, its highest-grossing market after North America, it grossed $102.4 million becoming the highest-grossing Western animated film until it was out-grossed by The Tigger Movie ($126.7 million).[29] Following in biggest grosses are the UK, Ireland and Malta, where it grossed £37.2 million ($67.1 million), France and the Maghreb region ($64.8 million), Germany ($53.9 million), and Spain ($29.5 million).[30]

3D re-release


Disney and Pixar re-released Finding Nemo in 3D on September 14, 2012,[31] with a conversion cost estimated below $5 million.[32] For the opening weekend of its 3D re-release in North America, Finding Nemo grossed $16.7 million, debuting at the No. 2 spot behind Resident Evil: Retribution.[33] From seven foreign markets, it earned a total of $5.1 million.[32]



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.[34]

The film received many awards, including:

Finding Nemo was also nominated for:

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.[3][35] 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 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Shrek.

Video game


A video game based on the film was released in 2003, for PC, Xbox, PS2, GameCube and GBA.



In 2005, after disagreements between Disney's Michael Eisner and Pixar's Steve Jobs over the distribution of Pixar's films, Disney announced that they would be creating a new animation studio, Circle 7 Animation, to make sequels to the seven Disney-owned Pixar films (which consisted of the films released between 1995 and 2011).[36] The studio had put Toy Story 4 and Monsters at Work in development, and had also hired screenwriter Laurie Craig to write a draft for Finding Nemo 2.[37] Circle 7 was subsequently shut down after Robert Iger replaced Eisner as CEO of Disney and arranged the acquisition of Pixar.

In July 2012, it was reported that Andrew Stanton is developing a sequel to Finding Nemo,[38] with Victoria Strouse writing the script and a schedule to be released in 2016.[39] However, the same day the news of a potential sequel broke, director Andrew Stanton posted a message on his personal Twitter calling into question the accuracy of these reports. The message said, "Didn't you all really learn from Toy Story 4? Everyone calm down. Don't believe everything you read. Nothing to see here now. #skyisnotfalling"[40] According to the report by Hollywood Reporter published in August 2012, Ellen DeGeneres is in negotiations to reprise her role of Dory.[41] In September 2012, it was confirmed by Stanton saying: "What was immediately on the list was writing a second Carter movie. When that went away, everything slid up. I know I'll be accused by more sarcastic people that it's a reaction to Carter not doing well, but only in its timing, but not in its conceit."[42]


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  21. Beautiful Friendship Archived 2009-12-26 at the Wayback Machine National Geographic magazine, January 2010
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