Pixar concluded its acclaimed Toy Story trilogy with a bang last year, as Toy Story 3 grossed more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office, walked away with two Oscars for its efforts, and left many a moviegoer weeping after watching Andy say farewell to his beloved playthings. Now, however, fans may start crying for a different reason.
Assuming that Tom Hanks is to be believed, Toy Story 4 is indeed being actively developed over at Pixar. This news comes hot on the heels of another sequel from the company, Cars 2, having been given a decidedly mixed reception (even from devoted Pixar and Cars fans alike).
Last fall, producer Darla K. Anderson stated that (at the time) Pixar had no plan for Toy Story 4. However, in a recently-aired interview with BBC's Breakfast News, Hanks indicated that has changed - and that the beloved computer-animation studio is indeed "working on ['Toy Story 4'] right now."
Plans to release several shorts featuring Woody (Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and the rest of the Toy Story gang have been on the docket for a while now; the first of them, "Toy Story: Hawaiian Vacation" is currently being shown in front of the Cars sequel in theaters. Nonetheless, there's been no actual confirmation or serious talk from either studio heads or the Toy Story voice actor cast about another full-length movie - until now.
It ought to be mentioned that while a fourth Toy Story film may indeed be currently in development, that does not guarantee it'll actually come to fruition. Following the monumental critical and financial success of Toy Story 3 - and given that Disney and Pixar are (naturally) in the business of making money - it's not really a surprise that the studio would have at least set some of their creative talents to the task of attempting to come up with a worthy new theatrical adventure involving the Toy Story characters and their new owner. But should they even try?
Obviously, the easy answer is "no." Besides the matter of how Toy Story 3 essentially brought the themes and ideas about familial bonds and the impermanence of childhood that were developed in Toy Story 1 & 2 full circle, the climax of the film (Andy and Woody's bittersweet farewell) seems like a near impossible act to follow; in terms of emotional resonance, that scene is about as good as it gets, for most people. That issue alone makes it difficult to compare this situation with what Pixar was facing before it set to work on either of the last two Toy Story pictures - and there was plenty of skepticism surrounding the potential quality of those films as well.
If Toy Story 4 does actually move forward, though, it could possibly go the way of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, by being structured as the beginning of a new series of films that do not thematically connect to the previous trilogy. That strategy probably wouldn't fly with people who expect better from Pixar, but it would help to diminish the inevitable comparisons between the third sequel and its predecessors. It would also be along the lines of how the upcoming Monsters, Inc. prequel, Monsters University, hopes to win over moviegoers by not attempting to actually continue and expand the storyline of the original.
More episodic adventures (re: shorts) with the Toy Story gang (like "Hawaiian Vacation") should go over fine with most people, for the reasons previously mentioned. There's no pressure to really tell any sort of complex or emotionally-fullfilling story; instead, it's just fun, wacky times with Woody, Buzz, and Co. So even though it seems that Pixar is indeed developing plans for a fourth Toy Story movie, perhaps the studio will decide that just sticking to making five-minute (or so) films featuring the beloved plastic characters is the easier (and still profitable) way to go... maybe.
We'll keep you posted on the status of Toy Story 4 as more information is released.
Source: BBC's Breakfast News (via Bleeding Cool)