When it comes to making Toy Story 4 - or a Pixar movie, in general - the process is uniquely different compared to the rest of the filmmaking industry, and this is something that Pixar has demonstrated time and again, going all the way back to the original Toy Story movie in 1995.
This year, Toy Story 4 begins with a flashback sequence to the day Bo Peep left, but the rest of the film takes place only a few months after the events of Toy Story 3. Throughout the story, Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Bo Peep, and even Forky will be tested about what it means to be a toy. For Woody and most toys in the world of Toy Story, being a lost toy is the worst thing, but to Bo Peep, it's a life that she ultimately chose in the end. It's a life of freedom. And part of the movie's story is helping Woody outside of his comfort zone.
When Screen Rant visited Pixar Animation Studios in early April 2019, we learned quite a bit about the movie and everything that went into making it. Here are some of the most interesting details and facts regarding the making of Toy Story 4 as well as what makes this year's sequel different to all the other installments in the long-running franchise:
- When starting out, director Josh Cooley told the team, "Our purpose in life is a moving target. The only constant is change." The last part is a famous saying from the Greek philosopher Heraclitus.
- Regrettably, Michael Keaton isn't back as Ken in Toy Story 4.
- Team Bo at Pixar used several notable female characters as well as one actual person as reference points for Bo Peep in Toy Story 4. It's certainly possible more people were used, but the ones that were shown to press were: Rey from Star Wars, Bride from Kill Bill, Dottie from A League of Their Own, and Olympic gymnast Aly Reisman, and more.
- Bo and her friends drive around in a vehicle that has been made to look like either a skunk or a squirrel, which easily allows it to blend into the environment.
- Mr. Potato Head returns for Toy Story 4, and his performance was done using archived audio of the late Don Rickles from the previous Toy Story films as well as Toy Story shorts, toys, theme park attractions, and more. Practically anything containing Rickles' voice was looked at for crafting the voice of Mr. Potato Head one last time.
- All of the toys look the same on the surface, but they've each been altered in many ways, most of which are too subtle for the average moviegoer to notice. Some things that might be noticeable from the outset, though, are the wear and tear on the main characters, particularly Woody and Buzz Lightyear. This is evident by micro-scratches and bubbling in stickers.
- Approximately eight to 10 screenings of Toy Story 4 have been held internally at Pixar, with each screening contains revisions and changes either to the story or certain sequences. In some cases, the differences were so extensive that they could be considered entirely new versions of the film.
- In the early stages, 20-30 sequences end up becoming 100-300 boards that are based on the entire script. This begins the process of recutting and redrawing for a couple years, moving between Story, Editorial, and so forth.
- The antique shop is filled to the brim with Easter eggs to previous Pixar movies, such as Merida's bow from Brave and an album from Chalupa Records by El Son de La Cruz from 2017's Coco. Furthermore, the carnival sequence itself has quite a few Easter eggs, so Pixar fans should certainly be on the lookout for them all. Plus, there are 10,000 items in the store itself. It took hours to weeks to make a single prop and then two years to fill up the entire antique mall.
- Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele were among the first people to voice their characters for Toy Story 4, and they did so four years ago.
- Since Duke Caboom is a Canadian character, Pixar specifically looked at casting Canadian actors, and they were overjoyed when Keanu Reeves took the part. In fact, the director and producers didn't know that Reeves owned his own motorcycle company when he was cast for the role.
- Christina Hendricks ended up being the perfect person to voice Gabby Gabby, not only because she delivered an excellent performance, but also because she used to play with ventriloquist dummies as a kid. She even has a collection of doll heads in her home right now.
- There's incredible attention to detail on the part of Pixar's animators in Toy Story 4. Various details - from the shine on a particular character's forehead (based on the type of material the toy would've been made with) to the design and welding of the material in the carnival game stations - have been incorporated to give a realistic feel to a fictional world.
- One of the most important details is dust. Yes, dust. Unsurprisingly, Pixar put a lot of effort into perfecting the dust particles as well as the dust levels in various parts of the films. But surprisingly, the dust in places like the antique shop makes all the difference in the world for a movie such as this, because the world, then, feels lived-in. Plus, wouldn't it make sense that the areas behind the antique shop items have dust and cobwebs? What's interesting is that Pixar utilized a program that uses A.I. spiders to make the cobwebs.
- Toy Story 4 is unique in many regards, but one such way is the aspect ratio. Pixar changed things up to increase the cinematic effect, so Toy Story 4 is filmed in 2.39:1 instead of 1.85:1. Moreover, while Pixar doesn't use a physical camera to make their movies, mathematically, the virtual camera is exactly the same as a real one.
Getting Toy Story 4 onto the big screen has been a long and arduous journey, going through story changes and scene revisions, and so far it all shows... but in a good way. Pixar has grown exponentially since the time the first Toy Story movie was made. Whereas 129 employees worked on Toy Story in the early 1990s, Pixar now has 1,247 people working on Toy Story 4. And along with additional personnel came advanced technology, much of which improved aspects such as the lighting and weather. Funnily enough, Toy Story 4's producers said that the first Toy Story could be rendered using modern technology faster than you could watch the film.
Everything that we learned visiting Pixar shines a light how far everyone - from the story supervisors to the animators to the directors themselves - go in order to make each Pixar film feel unique and worthy of releasing in theaters - and that's, so far, evident with what we saw from Toy Story 4.
Toy Story 4 tickets are now on sale!
- Toy Story 4 (2019) release date: Jun 21, 2019