Toy Story 4 director Josh Cooley bills the movie as the beginning of a new story for Woody and the gang. Even those at Pixar thought their flagship franchise reached its natural conclusion with the release of the third film in 2010. As most know, Toy Story 3 ended with an extremely emotional sequence that saw Andy bid farewell to his beloved collection of toys, passing them down to the young Bonnie. The franchise stayed alive via television specials (like Toy Story of Terror), but many felt its days on the big screen were over.
Of course, that was until 2014, when Pixar confirmed a fourth film was coming through the pipeline. Since that initial announcement, Toy Story 4 has gone on a behind-the-scenes roller coaster with the departure of original co-director John Lasseter and a complete upheaval of the script. Despite all that, the film remains on track for its release next summer, and Cooley is excited by the possibilities it presents.
In a statement (hat tip EW), the filmmaker discussed the approach behind Toy Story 4 and how it will explore fresh territory for the series:
“Like most people, I assumed that Toy Story 3 was the end of the story. And it was the end of Woody’s story with Andy. But just like in life, every ending is a new beginning. Woody now being in a new room, with new toys, and a new kid, was something we have never seen before. The questions of what that would be like became the beginning of an entertaining story worth exploring.”
While there's undeniably a risk to adding to the Toy Story film franchise after the trilogy's perfect ending, this is far from the only time this has happened in Hollywood. Many Star Wars fans would agree Return of the Jedi works as an ideal ending to the Skywalker saga, but The Force Awakens proved there were more stories to tell. Sylvester Stallone seemed to retire the Rocky Balboa character after the eponymous 2006 film, only to be roped back in by an enthusiastic Ryan Coogler for Creed. Yes, films like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull are cautionary tales about revisiting iconic properties, but for now, Pixar deserves the benefit of the doubt. Their track record is virtually spotless and they've even done a good job with sequels. Finding Dory and Incredibles 2 may not be as acclaimed as their respective predecessors, but they were still well-received and grossed over $1 billion worldwide.
Toy Story 4's official synopsis focuses on newcomer Forky, an art project of Bonnie's who vehemently denies he's a toy. From the sound of things, Forky (and the nature of the latest road trip adventure) will challenge Woody's perception of his true purpose, which could lead to some poignant twists. Both Tom Hanks and Tim Allen admitted they had difficulties recording their lines for the ending, floored by the emotional impact it had on them. It'll be interesting to see how it all plays out, but Toy Story 4 looks to be another hit for Pixar.
- Toy Story 4 (2019) release date: Jun 21, 2019