First 17 Minutes of ‘Toy Story 4’ Shown at CinemaCon

Earlier today, attendees of the annual CinemaCon conference – held in Las Vegas for members of the movie theater industry – were treated to the first 17 minutes of Toy Story 4.  And thanks to synopses published by those who got to view the footage, as well as tweets sharing what was shown, we now have a clear image of how the movie begins.

Read on ONLY if you don’t mind spoilers!

The most comprehensive articles so far were posted by Slash Film, IGN, and the Los Angeles Times. Other recaps, from Indie Wire, CinemaBlend, and The Hollywood Reporter, filled in some more useful details.  I’m going to do my best to compile and summarize what they’ve all said, and add to that some additional mentions from Twitter.

The movie opens nine years in the past, with the flashback scene we saw thanks to Good Morning America.  The toys are working to rescue RC from being washed away in a rain storm, and picking up from the point where Jessie and the Barbies team up to open the window, Woody, Slink, and the barrel monkeys form a chain and manage to get RC to safety.

Meanwhile, Molly is getting rid of some of her toys.  She decides she no longer wants Bo Peep, and although Andy tries to stop her, Molly insists.  The lamp is placed in a box and taken outside, where a man is picking up the toys for his own child.  Woody tries to rescue Bo, but she’s okay with moving on to another kid.  She asks him to come with her, but as he’s contemplating it he realizes Andy is looking for him, and he chooses to stay with Andy.

Flash forward to present day, with the toys now belonging to Bonnie.  Woody is holding a pre-playtime meeting in Bonnie’s closet, and when she makes her toy selections, she picks Jessie and Bullseye over him.  Woody is left behind for the third time in a week, which makes him very concerned.

It’s time for Bonnie to start kindergarten, and attend her orientation day.  She doesn’t want to go, however.  She’s in tears and hiding behind her bed, while her parents try to reassure her.  Woody is worried about her, and wants to help, even though toys aren’t allowed to go to school.  A new doll character, the Mayor, reminds Woody that “Bonnie isn’t Andy, no matter how much he might want her to be.”  Woody sneaks in Bonnie’s backpack anyway.

At school, Bonnie is having a hard time fitting in.  She keeps quietly to herself, and some of the other kids aren’t nice to her – one bully in particular steals her craft supplies.  Woody tries to help by gathering what bits he can from the trash and placing them where Bonnie can find them – and she in turn creates Forky.  In the backpack with the new handmade toy, Woody is congratulating himself on saving the day at school:  “We’ve got this whole school thing down. Wait, I can’t believe I’m talking to a spork.”  Suddenly Forky comes to life, much to Woody’s surprise.

Woody introduces the toys to Forky back in Bonnie’s room.  But Forky keeps trying to put himself back in the trash, since that’s where he feels he belongs.  Woody realizes that Forky is an important comfort to Bonnie as she adjusts to the changes in her life, so he and the others have to keep an eye on him as they begin their road trip before the official start of school.

I was following Twitter as the presentation was happening, and many positive tweets came out of the event.  Many of them mentioned the introduction by Producer Jonas Rivera, who emphasized that while Toy Story 3 closed the toys’ chapter with Andy, Toy Story 4 is the beginning of a new story:

The Hollywood Reporter article also quoted Rivera’s introduction, saying,

“But Woody is the protagonist. What if we put him in a new situation where he is questioning his own purpose?”

After the preview footage was shown, the reviews were overwhelmingly glowing:

So here are my own personal thoughts about what we’ve learned tonight.  I’m really curious about this new Mayor character – mentioned as a female, could this be who Patricia Arquette is voicing?  Nothing we’ve seen on any new merchandise or book artwork has shown a mystery doll, so there’s absolutely nothing to go on.  I also wonder how everything’s going to play out, with Woody being somewhat forgotten, like he was in the original Toy Story film.  He has grown since then, so how will he cope when it’s close friends who are being favored, instead of a flashy new arrival?  I am glad we’ll get what looks like a decent amount of time with the classic gang at the beginning, because catching up with them is what I look forward to the most.

A lot of people have seen previews already, all over the world, so I think we’re starting to reach the point where synopses, reviews, and general updates will be much more frequent.  I’ll do my best to keep on top of the most important ones, and share the info as quickly as possible!  Stay tuned!

Images © Disney/Pixar.