Earlier today, we caught a glimpse at the first Toy Story 4 poster and learned that the film, which had been planned as a love story rather than a direct sequel to Toy Story 3, will center on the relationship between Woody and Bo Peep.
While at D23 Expo today, I participated in a small group interview with Disney Animation’s big gun and Pixar progenitor, John Lasseter, who directed the first two Toy Story films and oversees all films from Disney Animated Studios and Pixar Studios. Lassetter spoke about the personal inspiration for Toy Story 4 and revealed the narrative hook that brings the anthropomorphized playthings back together once more.
Bo Peep was notably absent from Toy Story 3 (word has it she was given away in a yard sale), a dangling thread in a film that otherwise resolved most of the franchise arcs beautifully. Lasseter explained that Toy Story 4 will find Woody and Buzz Lightyear teaming up once again as they head out in search of the missing Bo.
As we were looking around we came up with this idea because Bo Peep was not in Toy Story 3, and it actually worked beautifully into this….so Woody and Buzz light-year go out to find Bo Peep and bring her back, and it’s a very special and emotional love story. But it’s extremely funny too.
Lasseter made it clear that he only wanted to return to the Toy Story universe if they could figure out a way to do something unique to the franchise.
What we wanted to do was find a type a story that we had not done in a Toy Story before, and really our goal is to create something really original, something that’s different from what you’ve seen before. In every sequel that Pixar does we try to do something that is very different from the original, but is as good in a different way.
Lasseter also revealed the surprisingly personal inspirations for the story — his own wife’s life story. Said Lasseter, “I’ve been very inspired by my wife Nancy‘s story in her life before I met her. It’s an incredible story, and it’s been sort of a bit of an inspiration for this.” As a huge fan of what the third film achieved, and who doesn’t necessarily see the need for a fourth given Toy Story 3‘s beautiful conclusion, it’s a huge comfort to hear that this story comes from an intimate place. There’s no denying that sequelization is often a blatant cash grab, but if Lasseter is drawing from the story of someone he loves, it’s a good bet there’s going to be some heart to it.
This is also great to hear because, as Adam pointed out earlier, Bo Peep has always been largely an inactive background character. And while I love the idea of Woody and Buzz teaming up again to find her, that could sound dangerously like she was a plot point. If this is going to be a love story, she needs to have some depth of character and an arc of her own.
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