Pixar Studios is known for its original programming, but over recent years the animation powerhouse has been relying more on sequels for its output. This summer, Finding Dory became Pixar's latest critical and commercial smash (read our review), and three of their next four films are all followups to pre-existing properties. These include the long-awaited The Incredibles 2 (written and directed by Brad Bird) and a fourth installment in Pixar's flagship Toy Story franchise - the aptly-named Toy Story 4, which will be helmed by John Lasseter.
As Pixar plotted out their schedule for the next few years, the previous plan was for Toy Story 4 to premiere in June 2018, while Incredibles 2 would finally debut in June 2019. Now that both projects are making their way through development, some alterations have been made to the production timelines, and the two films have swapped release dates.
Disney/Pixar have confirmed the date changes, with THR reporting that an accelerated schedule for The Incredibles 2 was what led to the change. Since The Incredibles 2 is undoubtedly one of the most-demanded Pixar sequels, this development will come as a pleasant surprise for fans. Now, the Parr family will return to the big screen a year earlier than anticipated. As it stands now, The Incredibles 2 will open on June 15, 2018, and Toy Story 4 will reach theaters June 21, 2019.
Last year, Tom Hanks indicated that he would begin recording his Woody lines for Toy Story 4 in December 2015, so the release date switch is a bit curious. Whatever the reasoning is, it would appear that The Incredibles 2 is the one that's further along in pre-production and ready to move on to the next phase. The move does allow Lasseter and the Toy Story 4 team more time to finalize their narrative, which certainly can't hurt. Toy Story 3 is a beloved modern classic that ended the original trilogy on an emotionally resonant note. Many remain skeptical of a fourth entry in the series, even one that promises to be a touching love story between Woody and Bo Peep. It's better Pixar not rush anything since expectations will be very high.
As for how this impacts The Incredibles 2, viewers should be able to learn more details about the film sooner, as 2017 will be a busy year for Bird and his team. Everything from the cast to a general synopsis remains under lock and key for now, but that will most likely change in the near future. It will be interesting to see what Bird ultimately comes up with; he recently teased the "new directions" the characters will go in and has repeatedly discussed the challenges he faced while crafting the story. It's clear that he has a fondness for the material and obviously wants to do it justice. Fans have been clamoring for an Incredibles 2 since 2004, so it would be a shame if it disappointed.
Pixar has a fairly mixed track record when it comes to followups; the two Toy Story sequels and Finding Dory were all well-received, but Cars 2 is widely seen as its weakest effort, and the prequel Monsters University earned modest marks. Fortunately, there's plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the studio's sequel binge - and even if Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 4 aren't worthwhile, they're the last sequels Pixar has planned for a while.
The Incredibles 2 opens in U.S theaters on June 15, 2018, followed by Toy Story 4 on June 21, 2019.