Ever since Toy Story 4 was announced in 2014, whenever there’s been a new Pixar film, I’ve sought out interviews with its filmmakers – I’ve found that it’s not uncommon for the Pixar Braintrust to be asked about Toy Story 4, and offer little hints or clues about its progress. With Andrew Stanton, Lindsey Collins, and Angus MacLane on an international press tour to promote Finding Dory, I’ve unearthed a wealth of material lately – I really enjoyed Finding Dory, so I’ve been interested in the added insight into the making of that movie. And In the past month since its release, the majority of the Toy Story 4 mentions have been the typical, brief “we can’t tell you” replies that we’ve come to expect from Pixar. However, some of the statements made in the most recent interviews have me very concerned about the status of Toy Story 4′s production and where it is ultimately going to end up in Pixar’s schedule of upcoming releases.
This interview, published on July 19 by Hey U Guys, provides the only somewhat-reassuring current remarks about Toy Story4‘s ongoing work:
Finally, you’re writing Toy Story 4, at the moment, in the process of –
AS: I helped kick it off. I helped write sort of the treatment for it, but that’s about it.
I was just wondering, what sort of fans can expect from this film. Is there kind of a skeleton narrative in place, or is that still very much under wraps anyway?
AS: Well, there’s always a skeleton narrative. But, if Finding Dory’s any testament, like, what you start with is not what you end with. So, we’re very much in the middle of working on it, so I think even if we were to tell you everything right now, it would all change tomorrow. So, it’s very much in progress.
With two years still left until it’s previously-stated official release date, and the typical Pixar film taking four to five years in production, it would make sense that it’s still firmly in the middle of its timeline. I know stories are tweaked up until pretty much the end, so it’s not uncommon for things to be in flux at this point in the pipeline. But should it be father along than it actually is?
Another video published on July 21 by the British Film Institute is much more worrisome. When the panel is asked about the recent statements made by Pixar President Jim Morris, regarding no additional sequels being in production past the ones that have been announced, this was their reply:
LC: Here’s the deal. We wish we were that good at being able to predict which one of our movies is gonna be ready at any given time. And the reality is, we have about six or seven going at any given time. And at some point, we all have to kind of sit down at a meeting and go, alright, is it this one or this one that feels more ready to go? And what’s happened is –
AS: Its not by title, it’s by how good the story is working.
LC: It’s like, literally, is the story working? Which story is working to the point that we think that we can start moving it into production? And so what happened is, we have all these plans of, like, sequel, original, sequel, original, then none of that works. And so, we are now in a situation where we have a few sequels – a couple sequels – in a row, and then we have about three originals that are ready to go after that… What it is, is that he’s basically saying that right now, we have a couple sequels lined up, and then we have a bunch of originals coming up after that, and after that who knows… So the plan right now, at least what we can say, is that there’s a couple sequels coming out, and then there’s about two or three original films that are in the works.
It’s Cars and Incredibles?
LC: Yeah. And then you have Coco, which has been announced, which is coming out kind of between those two. And then beyond that is all originals right now. That’s not to say that next year, when I’m sitting here, I’m like, “right, what I said last year is actually not true anymore.”
Was the acknowledgment of Cars 3 and Incredibles 2 being the two upcoming sequels – omitting Toy Story 4 – merely an oversight on the part of the panel? Or is it hiding a dramatic change in the schedule that would postpone Toy Story 4 a second time, even farther away than the previous reschedule from June 2017 to June 2018? It pains me to admit it, but it doesn’t look good.
Finally, this video published on July 26 by Flickering Myth – the first I discovered, and the one that sent me digging for more – seems to confirm my fears that a postponement is imminent:
LC: I think that the issue right now is that we have, you know, tons of movies in production, and we always are assessing kind of which ones feel like their story is in good shape. And then once that’s there, we kind of go – okay, if that story is in good shape, then we’ll move that into that slot, and we’ll hold on this one – and it changes, honestly, every six months.
AS: Human beings, especially journalists, want to make some pattern out of something, and put some conspiracy theory; and the truth is, nobody knows what they’re doing. And all we are doing is releasing based on when the story bakes well enough. So, we can go in with the best-laid plans, and it looks great on the calendar, but if the story’s not right, we’re not going to release it yet.
Are you working on a part of Toy Story 4?
AS: Somebody is. Not me, I’m sitting here.
Oh, not you, somebody else. But is that your next big one?
LC: Well, we have a lot. Again, I feel like I’m gonna say yes or say no, and then I’m gonna to go back to work after doing this press, and they’re gonna say, ‘that’s all changed!’ So I feel – I’m very hesitant to kind of ever commit to that, because I feel like we always are changing things around based on whether or not the story is working. I think there’s a screening of it coming up, that we’ll take a look at, and probably decide at that point.
It’s been just a little more than six months since Toy Story 4‘s release date was pushed back a year. Was Incredibles 2 moved up because that story is “baking” better? Or is the schedule shift described here in reference to the previous flip-flop of Cars 2 and Toy Story 4 dates? Everything is extremely vague, but I can’t say I feel optimistic about any of this.
A little sleuthing reveals that, regardless of the published date of these videos online in the past week, they were actually filmed earlier in July. The BFI “Funday Preview” event was held on July 10 in London, with the other two appearing to have been recorded the same day as the Finding Dory UK press conference on July 11. Therefore, these remarks were made less than two weeks after Entertainment Weekly’s July 1 interview with Pixar’s President, Jim Morris, that Lindsey Collins is referencing in the questions about the studio’s schedule of releases. In that article – which stated that no new sequels were currently in development after the ones that have been announced, and which has been widely misconstrued by other sites as if to say there will never be any more sequels at all – Morris said:
“Everything after Toy Story and The Incredibles is an original right now.”
This contradicts Lindsey Collins’s timeline in the BFI video, which makes me hope that her statements on the number of upcoming sequels, and her agreement to those sequels being only Cars 3 and Incredibles 2, were a simple mistake that was missed in the live and on-the-spot nature of a panel discussion.
I truly hope that I’m merely panicking, reading too much into the statements being made, and jumping to conclusions based on cryptic responses – nothing would make me happier than to be proved completely and totally wrong in this instance! But with Pete Docter having been brought on to help with story last year, and the initial postponement, there have obviously been some story issues going on. Nevertheless, Tom Hanks has confirmed that he’s been recording with Annie Potts, so some progress has been made. All I can say for sure is I’ll be diligently searching for more information in the coming weeks and months, and hoping for the best for my favorite film franchise.