John Lasseter is already set to return to the helm for the recently announced Toy Story 4, replacing Lee Unkrich, who directed the third installment of the series. Now comes word from the Disney-Pixar’s Twitter page that he will co-direct the slated 2017 film alongside Josh Cooley, head of story on Pixar’s upcoming Inside Out, featuring the voices of Amy Poehler and Bill Hader among others. Considering the fact that Unkrich made his bones co-directing Toy Story 2 with Lasseter, this signals great faith in Cooley’s creative abilities and could lead to his own stand-alone project.
— Disney•Pixar (@DisneyPixar) March 12, 2015
Cooley, who cut his teeth as an intern on Cars, spoke to Variety about the announcement, describing the chance to work directly alongside Lasseter as “a dream come true.” He went onto discuss his feelings about the Toy Story series, admitting that he was “amazed by the groundbreaking computer-generated animation,” but that it was the “strong storytelling” in the films that made him want to work with Pixar. On top of his duties on Inside Out, he recently directed a short that will be featured on the Inside Out Blu-ray, and has written a children’s book as well.
The little we know about Toy Story 4 suggests the story will differ hugely from the previous Toy Story films. Rashida Jones and Will McCormack are co-writing the script and Pixar studio head Jim Morris recently opined that the 2017 sequel is a “separate story,” going on to say that Toy Story 3, “ended in a beautiful way and completed a trilogy.” Indeed, it ended in such a perfect and moving way that Pixar inexplicably felt the need to make another sequel. That makes sense.