When Does the ‘Luca’ Movie Take Place? Some Viewers Didn’t Realize It’s Not This Century

The latest Disney Pixar movie, Luca, hit Disney+ on June 18, 2021; however, some viewers aren’t sure about the film’s time period. Since it’s an animated movie, it’s not immediately evident where and when the sea monster, Luca (voiced by Jacob Tremblay), lives. Plus, it’s fantasy, so why does it matter what time period the story takes place? However, the director Enrico Casarosa chose the exact setting for several reasons.

Alberto and Luca eating ice cream in the Luca movie
Alberto and Luca | Disney/Pixar

Is ‘Luca’ in theaters?

No, Disney Pixar’s Luca is not in theaters. The animated film is available for streaming at no additional cost to Disney+ subscribers. Like Pixar’s Soul, Disney chose to skip the theatrical release due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Unlike Hulu or Amazon Prime video, Disney+ does not have a free trial. To watch Luca, viewers sign up for a monthly plan; however, subscribers could cancel after paying for only one month.

Disney Pixar’s next animated feature, Turning Red, will head to the theaters on March 11, 2022, for the first full theatrical release since the coronavirus.

When does the movie ‘Luca’ happen?

The story of Luca and Alberto (voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer) is set in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The reason for this specific time period is because director Enrico Casarosa drew upon his childhood for the story.

“I had the luck to grow up in Genoa — a port city on the Italian Riviera,” the director told Disney. “It’s a very specific coast because it’s really steep — the mountains rise up from the ocean. The towns are stuck in time—they’re so picturesque. I always imagined them like little monsters coming out of the water.”

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The director’s goal with the Luca movie was to create a timeless look. However, he dropped in various Pixar created posters of Italian films from the 1950s to set the era.

“I always felt there was something very lovely about the Italian Golden Age — the ’50s and ’60s,” he continued. “The cinema and the music of that time is iconic and special.” 

If viewers look closely, they can find posters of various Italian films from the time period, including La Strada and Roman Holiday, on the city’s walls.

Where does the movie ‘Luca’ take place?

Although the movie begins in the ocean, the majority of the film, Luca, takes place in the fictional town of Portorosso. The small seaside town on the Italian Riviera came straight from Casarosa’s hometown of Genoa and a few neighboring areas. 

Luca and Alberto have dinner with Giulia in the Luca movie
L-R: Giulia, Luca and Alberto in the ‘Luca’ movie | Disney/Pixar

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“The artist’s hand is something I think a lot about,” Casarosa said in the same Disney production fact sheet. “We try to bring some of that warmth and imperfection to the computer animation. And our story takes you to a place that’s fantastic, but also inspired by where I grew up.” 

Casarosa loved the towns so much that he wanted to portray them accurately in the Luca movie. The director took the film team to Genoa to study the Italian roots of the movie. 

“The Cinque Terre is really close to where I grew up,” he added. “These five little towns are lovely — stuck in time, really, because they’re so small. They’ve retained that old, seasoned look — so wonderful and picturesque. I moved to the U.S. in my twenties, and as often happens, the more you’re away from your roots, the more you value those roots.”

You are transported back to Casarosa’s Italian roots when you step inside Pixar’s Luca.