It’s been a long wait, but Toy Story 4 is getting close. Well, closer: Although we originally expected the toys back in town last year, changes in personnel – most significantly with the departure of writers Rashida Jones and Will McCormack – saw Pixar rework the animation, pushing it back to a June 2019 release.
Part of me has always suspected that the movie was delayed in order to stagger Pixar’s next few movies coming out through 2019. At the moment, Toy Story 4 is the last officially announced Pixar movie with a release date and title. The rest are still under wraps, including “Untitled Suburban Fantasy,” but Pixar has confirmed that their next wave of releases will be original stories, not sequels.
If you’re wondering why we have so little information about future Pixar releases, keep in mind that the studio has had issues with announced projects getting replicated (either intentionally or unintentionally) by other studios. This is why they canceled Newt, for example, because Rio was so similar to the story. And let’s not forget the waves of backlash concerning parallels between last year’s Coco and The Book of Life.
Back to Toy Story 4:
So, how much has the film’s script changed during this staggered production? A huge amount, according to Annie Potts, who will reprise her voice role as Bo Peep in the Disney film. “[Toy Story 4] was supposed to come out this year and then they threw out three-quarters of it and rewrote,” she told
There are two likely scenarios, here, based on what we’ve observed historically from Pixar releases. This could be another Toy Story 2, where almost the entire film was redone from scratch in record time. The same happened with the first Toy Story, as well as Ratatouille and The Good Dinosaur.
Another scenario is the Brave example, which somewhat mirrors Toy Story 4 in the way that both movies involve high-ranking women leaving the project partway through, and for apparently troubling reasons. For Brave, it was director Brenda Chapman, and as alluded above, it was Rashida Jones for Toy Story 4 as writer.
If there’s any cause for concern, it’s not that most of the script has been tossed, or “three quarters” as Annie Potts claims. Pixar is well known for being a perfectionist studio, constantly scrutinizing every detail and tossing out entire scenes that aren’t working.
No, the real cause of concern would rest in the creative shakeups and drama behind the scenes, notably concerning John Lasseter. There’s actually a precedent for issues like this with several Pixar films, including Brave and (for many) The Good Dinosaur.
In the case of Toy Story 4, Lasseter stepped down from directing the movie a while back and was replaced by Josh Cooley, a story lead on Inside Out. I’ve met Cooley before and have seen firsthand his mastery of story (seriously, this guy works a storyboard in ways that depress me as a budding storyteller). I have a lot of faith in his ability and am hoping for the best, but let’s not kid ourselves. This project is looking more and more perilous for Pixar. Hopefully, that’s not really the case.