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The Industry
King Magnifico is Disney's 'Wish' looking at wish orbs

Image credit: Disney / Still From Wish

From Pixar and Marvel to ‘Barbie’ and ‘Star Trek’, here are our favourite hidden references to find in films.

As April nears, a lot of people will hear the phrase ‘Easter egg’ and think of an oval chocolate shell wrapped in colourful foil. However, in the context of the entertainment industry, an Easter egg means something even more exciting to hunt for. 

It refers to hidden details scattered throughout a film, television series or video game for fans to seek out – be it an etching of Star Wars droids R2-D2 and C-3PO on the wall as Indiana Jones discovers the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Rapunzel from Disney’s Tangled being in the crowd while Anna sings ‘For the First Time in Forever’ in Frozen.

Although Easter eggs were originally found in video games like Adventure and other Atari properties, they’ve since jumped onto the big screen, and hunting them down has become a popular pastime. It’s now common for blockbusters from Disney, Marvel, and other film franchises to have Easter eggs scattered throughout their run time.

Here are seven of the top Easter eggs to look out for in your favourite films:

1. Any Pixar Film

Pixar are the kings of movie Easter eggs, with several well-known ones recurring in all of their films. The number ‘A113’ is a common sight, appearing on the licence plate of Andy’s mum’s car in the Toy Story series, a scuba diver’s camera in Finding Nemo, a rat’s ear tag in Ratatouille and above the witch’s doorway in Roman numerals in Brave, to name a few. This Easter egg appears in any Pixar film that has alumni of California Institute of the Arts working on it, as A113 refers to the classroom used by graphic design and character animation students.

Pixar are also notorious for hiding Easter eggs related to their next project in their latest film – leading to fans combing back through the film when the new one is revealed. When Boo held up a clownfish toy at the end of Monsters Inc, no one knew at the time that this was Nemo from the upcoming Finding Nemo. And now, with the studio’s next film Elio on the horizon, we can look back at its predecessor Elemental and spot a blue ‘Join the space club’ poster with a planet with holes and tentacles in Wade’s flashback, hinting at Elio.

The interweaving of Pixar Easter eggs among films has been so strong and successful that it has even led to fans theorising that all their films are connected in the same timeline

2. ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’

Easter egg hunting gets literal on the set of our next film. This was the first time Easter eggs made the jump from video games to films. The cast and crew had a real life Easter egg hunt before filming but failed to find all the eggs.

Attentive viewers can spy the eggs that the cast failed to find hidden in the background of the set, including under Dr. Frank N. Furter’s throne, on top of a lamp in the main hall and near the lab lift.

3. ‘In the Heights’

Lin-Manuel Miranda is best known for his Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton, so there’s no way he could make the film In the Heights without slipping in a reference to it.

The phone’s hold music for Kevin Rosario’s cab company is a manipulated version of Hamilton song ‘You’ll be Back’. 

4. ‘Barbie’

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie was a cultural phenomenon and there are plenty of pop culture references within the film. From poking fun at established cinematic tropes to reminding us all of Barbie products past and discontinued, there’s plenty to notice while you rewatch it.

In Barbie’s car, the odometer says ‘030959’, which is a reference to March 9 1959 – when the first Barbie toy was launched. There’s also a scene where Barbie meets Sasha and her three unnamed friends, which is likely to be a reference to Bratz dolls Sasha, Yasmin, Cloe and Jade – another toy line owned by the Barbie toy manufacturer, Mattel. 

5. ‘Star Trek’

When the new Star Trek film, directed by J. J. Abrams, was released in 2009, Paramount revealed that they’d hidden Star Wars droid R2-D2 somewhere in the film as an Easter egg and challenged fans to find it.

He was eventually revealed to be floating among the destroyed remains of a Federation ship when the Enterprise comes out of a barrel roll above Vulcan. Considering the long rivalry between Star Wars and Star Trek, was the placement of this movie Easter egg personal?

6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

With something as extensive as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), there are bound to be Easter eggs aplenty in Marvel films. However, this next Easter egg doesn’t point to a film in the MCU, but rather to a previous production from ‘Nick Fury’ actor, Samuel L. Jackson’s, career.

In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Nick Fury fakes his death. He later meets other characters in a graveyard by his fake grave and his tombstone reads, ‘The path of the righteous man, Ezekiel 25:17’. This is part of the bible verse quote that Jackson’s character ‘Jules Winfield’ recites in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction

7. Disney’s ‘Wish’

Disney is no stranger to Easter eggs. From their classic animated films to more recent blockbusters, they love to hide characters from their past projects in new films. We all spotted the strange, faceless Mrs Potts in the camp in Tarzan and the more observant of us will have noticed Belle from Beauty and the Beast wandering the streets, book in hand, as Quasimodo sings ‘Out There’ in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Like Pixar, the presence of these characters in other films has led to some wild fan theories, such as the shipwreck at the beginning of The Little Mermaid belonging to Anna and Elsa’s parents from Frozen. It’s not surprising that the creators of the MCU would lean into this for their 100th anniversary. The film released to mark this special occasion, Wish, is filled to the brim with references and homages to the Disney films of the last century.

The main character, Asha, has seven friends who are meant to represent the seven titular characters from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The villain’s song is also crammed with clever lyrics. He cries, “Poppin’ this one!” as he destroys a mother’s wish for a nanny for her children – a clear reference to Mary Poppins. There are also some other clever Easter eggs, but we can’t reveal these without spoiling how the film ends!

Whether you prefer film Easter eggs or the chocolate kind, we hope you enjoy hunting for them!

Take a look at our website for more industry news and acting advice, including 10 Performers Made Famous at the Fringe and 10 Films to Watch on International Women’s Day