Toy Story 4 will be the first Pixar film since 1995 to not include a short film. For years, audiences have become accustomed to shorts playing before the animation studio's features - many of which have earned much praise and accolades. The practice began with A Bug's Life in 1998 and continued with each subsequent Pixar release. Most recently, the poignant Bao was seen ahead of Incredibles 2 and eventually won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. Much like the Marvel Cinematic Universe's use of post-credits stingers, Pixar's shorts have become a part of their DNA.
In just a few days (as of this writing), Pixar returns once again to theaters with Toy Story 4, the latest installment in their flagship franchise. Coincidentally, the fourth entry has something in common with the original movie - outside of the returning cast of characters such as Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest of the gang. For the first time in nearly 25 years, a Pixar film will not have a short attached.
Disney confirmed the news to Slate. No reasoning behind the decision was given, so it will be interesting to see if anyone at Pixar elaborates on the break from tradition at a later date. While it isn't a major deal the studio is bypassing a short for Toy Story 4, it's still somewhat curious at first glance given the shorts' enduring legacy.
To be fair, Pixar has continued to produce short films in 2019 via their SparkShorts program, which is designed to promote up-and-coming storytellers. Projects from this initiative include Purl, a feminist workplace allegory with yarn; Kitbull, a heartwarming story about a pitbull and a kitten becoming friends; and Float, a story about a father who discovers his son can, well, float in the air. None of these will play before Toy Story 4, but still work as shining examples of the studio's commitment to use the animation realm to tell captivating stories that captivate audiences in poignant and exciting ways. It's unknown if Toy Story 4 will be a one-off exception or if Pixar is planning on removing shorts from their features altogether. When Onward premieres in March 2020, fans will have a better idea.
Fortunately, Toy Story 4 is going to continue the Pixar tradition of delivering an emotional and entertaining moviegoing experience for people of all ages. Early reviews are enthusiastically positive, with the film debuting with an exemplary perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes. Just about everyone considers it a worthwhile and necessary addition to the iconic series, which comes as a great sign considering the healthy amount of skepticism surrounding Toy Story 4 when it was first announced. It would have been fun to see another great Pixar short ahead of it, but Toy Story 4 itself being a wonderful film is what's most important here.
- Toy Story 4 (2019) release date: Jun 21, 2019