To infinity and beyond? Disney-Pixar has no plans for sequels after Toy Story 4, but the animation studio isn't definitively ruling out another return to the toy box.
"Every film we make, we treat it like it's the first and the last film we're ever going to make," producer Mark Nielsen said during Pixar press day for Toy Story 4. "So you force yourself to make it hold up. You don't get in over your skis. Whether there's another one? I don't know. If there is, it's tomorrow's problem."
The third sequel to the 1995 original, Pixar's first-ever animated feature and the first full-length film created entirely with computer animation, the team behind Toy Story 4 spent years ensuring another entry in the cherished franchise would be a worthy followup to 2010's Toy Story 3.
That film, from director Lee Unkrich, was believed by many to be the end of the series when best friend toys Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz (Tim Allen) said so long to longtime owner Andy. But Pixar had one more Toy Story to tell.
"We are our own toughest critics," Nielsen said. "We love these characters more than anyone. We don't want to mess anything up."
Then Pixar president Ed Catmull stressed the importance of doing "an original film a year," telling Buzzfeed in 2013, "Every once in a while, we get a film where we want or people want to see something continuing in that world — which is the rationale behind the sequel. They want those characters, which means we were successful with them. But if you keep doing that, then you aren't doing original films."
The strategy envisioned releasing "one and a half" films a year. "We're going to have an original film every year, then every other year have a sequel to something," Catmull said. "That's the rough idea."
In the years since, Pixar premiered Monsters, Inc. prequel Monsters University, followed by Finding Nemo sequel Finding Dory, 2017's Cars 3, and last summer's 14-years-later followup to The Incredibles, the Brad Bird-directed Incredibles 2. And Monsters at Work, a Monsters spinoff-slash-sequel television series, is in the works at the Disney+ streaming service.
"Most studios jump on doing a sequel as soon as they have a successful film, but our business model is a filmmaker model, and we don't make a sequel unless the director of the original film has an idea that they like and are willing to go forward on," Morris told EW.
"A sequel in some regards is even harder [than the original] because you've got this defined world which, on the one hand, is a leg up, and on the other hand has expectations that you can't disappoint on."
"This is the end of the series and I had gotten some texts from Tim Allen. These texts that say, 'Have you recorded yet? Have you been in? Have you had a session yet?' I said, 'No, not yet.' [Allen says] 'Wait until you see those last pages. Tough one, tough one,'" Hanks said.
"And it was! The last few sessions we're saying goodbye to Woody and Buzz and Bonnie's room and Andy and everybody. And it was emotional."
After Toy Story 4, Pixar will release a new original, Onward, directed by Dan Scanlon (Monsters University) and starring Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Far From Home) and Chris Pratt (Avengers: Endgame).2comments
Mark Andrews (Brave), Brian Fee (Cars 3), Domee Shi (Bao), and Pete Docter (Inside Out) are developing original films and the studio has four release dates staked throughout 2022.
Toy Story 4 opens June 21.