During an investor call today Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that Toy Story 4 is indeed on the way and will be released in 2017. John Lasseter, who helmed the first two installments before giving the reigns to Lee Unkrich for Toy Story 3, will direct. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are expected to return as Woody and Buzz Lightyear. The last one made a ton of money so this isn’t entirely unexpected. The film will also be in 3D. The story is being credited to Lasseter, Unkrich, Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter. Rashida Jones and Will McCormack will pen the script.
This makes total sense from a “pleasing shareholders” point of view (as evidenced by the context in which it was announced) but does it compute as an artistic choice as well? Perhaps. While Toy Story 3 seemed to be sort of a fitting end to the series, Pixar rarely (note the use of “rarely” instead of “never”) rushes their sequels so there’s little reason to expect that they won’t be able to come up with something quality here (with one notable exception). Hit the jump for more on Toy Story 4, which will hit theaters on June 16th, 2017.
“We love these characters so much; they are like family to us. We don’t want to do anything with them unless it lives up to or surpasses what’s gone before. ‘Toy Story 3’ ended Woody and Buzz’s story with Andy so perfectly that for a long time, we never even talked about doing another ‘Toy Story’ movie. But when Andrew, Pete, Lee and I came up with this new idea, I just could not stop thinking about it. It was so exciting to me, I knew we had to make this movie—and I wanted to direct it myself.”
There are only two real negatives I can find in this situation. First, I think Pixar is at their best when cracking new ideas and exploring new territory. While Toy Story 2 and 3 are certainly good, part of the fun of the studio’s new films is how cleverly they delve into new concepts. But as capitalism marches on, so do Woody and Buzz I suppose. The other hangup is that Cars 2 didn’t really give anyone the sense that Lasseter was operating at peak capacity, but hey, everyone strikes out every now and then. And if you’re going to have a fallow period creatively, there are worse ways to pursue it than Cars 2.
While I somewhat timidly noted that Hanks and Allen are “expected” to return for Toy Story 4, I can’t imagine a universe where the necessary money isn’t thrown at them to come back for this thing.