I shared in my last post that I’ve been dealing with some online drama, and was trying to decide how to proceed in light of it. Well, it took the discovery of a video — where some pretty big names in the fan community were mocking my friends and me — to give me the push to keep going. Jessie never gives up, Jessie finds a way — and I’m sure not going to let trolls succeed at driving me away from something I love. So, I’m back, but as a result of this little break I’ve taken, I’ve got a good amount of news to catch up on. Here goes…
The promotional tie-ins are one of the things I’ve been looking forward to the most with Toy Story 4. It’s always fun to see your favorite characters on everyday products like paper towels and food items. And thanks to a press release from Disney, I’ve come to learn that there’s going to be a TON of new Toy Story 4 promos hitting stores. These descriptions are taken straight from the release, and I’ve added videos and photos where applicable:
- ALASKA AIRLINES will collaborate with Disney and Pixar this June to theme an aircraft to celebrate Woody and the gang’s latest adventure. This newly-themed plane featuring the film’s lead characters will delight guests traveling to the Disneyland Resort and and to the 116 destinations that Alaska serves from the West Coast, the most of any airline. To learn about promotional activities leading up to the June 21 release of Toy Story 4, fans can follow @AlaskaAir on Twitter and facebook.com/alaskaairlines.
- BABYBEL and THE LAUGHING COW invite Toy Story 4 fans everywhere to experience an Adventure 4 The Whole Family! This summer’s tastiest cheese snacks offer exclusive content the whole family can enjoy together at Adventure4Family.com, in addition to in-store promotions and limited-time character packs, including the newest member of the Toy Story 4 crew, Forky!
- BEST WESTERN HOTELS & RESORTS is teaming up with Disney and Pixar to celebrate Toy Story 4 and launch an integrated campaign as part of its BW Rewards Rush Promotion. The story starts at Today’s Best Western where Best Western Rewards members can receive a $20 Best Western Travel Card after their first stay. Offer ends 9/2/19. Visit bestwestern.com for complete terms and conditions. Offer valid at any Best Western branded hotel worldwide.
- BLUE DIAMOND ALMOND BREEZE, the number one almondmilk in the U.S., is collaborating with Toy Story 4 to encourage memorable family moments. From May 10, 2019, to August 2, 2019, Blue Diamond Almond Breeze is running a national promotion in which consumers can receive a Fandango Movie Ticket 2 to see Toy Story 4 or any other Disney movie with the purchase of three participating Blue Diamond Almond Breeze almondmilks. Visit activaterewards.com/AlmondBreeze/details for more details.
- BOUNTY paper towels come with new Toy Story 4 prints for a limited time that the whole family will love.
- CHRYSLER BRAND is getting the party started with a new television commercial that spotlights the Chrysler Pacifica and includes the characters from Toy Story 4. Whether you’re going on a road trip or having a dance party in your driveway, the Chrysler Pacifica has enough room for all friends, both old and new.
- THE CLOROX BRAND, in collaboration with Toy Story 4, is launching a new marketing campaign in late May.
- DANIMALS is teaming up with Disney and Pixar to bring the excitement of Toy Story 4 to kids across the country. Danimals Smoothies and Danimals Squeezeables dressed up as favorite characters from Toy Story 4 will hit shelves nationwide in the dairy aisle at the end of May 2019. Celebrating the famous themes of friendship and adventure, Danimals and Toy Story 4 gives kids an exciting reason to share their love of smoothies and yogurt with Danimals and Toy Story 4 creative and additional footage online and on TV channels across the country in May.
- GO RVING is teaming up with Disney and Pixar in celebration of Toy Story 4 to launch an integrated marketing campaign to inspire RV travel that takes family and friends on unforgettable adventures – just like Bonnie’s family and the Toy Story 4 friends. RV road trip adventures are as much about forming unbreakable bonds as the travel itself.
- JOANN is celebrating Toy Story 4 with hands-on events and a variety of licensed Toy Story 4 craft kits and character fabrics in stores nationwide.
- JUICY JUICE is excited to get parents and kids ready for the ultimate summer adventure — Toy Story 4 — with a special on-pack takeover and playful promotion that kicks off May 1. Visit juicyjuice.com for more details.
- KELLOGG’S is celebrating the release of Toy Story 4 with an exciting in-pack premium only available on specially-marked boxes at Walmart. For a limited-time, select Kellogg’s cereals include a free window decal featuring classic and soon-to-be favorite toys from the upcoming film. Round up all five collectable character decals starting May 10, 2019.
- MCDONALD’S teams up with Disney and Pixar starting June 11 to bring the Toy Story 4 movie release experience to life at participating McDonald’s restaurants. Ten Happy Meal toys will be available for families and children to collect and build their own magical carnival. In addition to the toy, each Happy Meal toy bag carries a ticket that can be scanned in the McDonald’s App (or entered at www.MagicAtMcD.com) for exciting opportunities and exclusive content. The fun goes beyond the restaurant, leveraging the magic of AI technology in the Snapchat App to step customers through a Happy Meal box and into the world of Toy Story 4. By entering this digital portal, users will find themselves in the animated world of the carnival similar to that featured in the movie. Each screen tap within the app further immerses users in the experience.
- ZIPLOC brand is inspiring families to discover new ways to adventure. In celebration of Toy Story 4, Ziploc is creating reusable sandwich and snack bags featuring Toy Story 4 designs to give playtime and snack time an extra dose of adventurous fun.
So far, all I’ve found in stores myself (from this list) are the paper towels and fabrics, but I do know things like Juicy Juice and Ziploc bags have been spotted by other people. It’ll all be on shelves and on television soon, so keep an eye out!
Trailers and TV Spots
We’ve seen a slew of new trailers and TV spots in the past several weeks, too – none of them showing anything too dramatically different than before, but enough that it’s still fun to get further glimpses of the movie. We finally got to meet Duke Caboom:
As well as witness Forky’s creation:
A new Japanese trailer was also released, which surprised me in that it isn’t as spoilery as it could be, compared to Japanese trailers of the past. Having read the Junior Novel, I can verify there’s nothing in here from the last scenes of the movie, so it’s safe to watch without giving anything major away:
The Japanese Disney site called this the “last” trailer, so besides quick TV and social media spots, this could be the last we see of actual trailer-length footage for Toy Story 4 before its June release.
Pixar’s Toy Story 4 Press Event Details
May 1 marked the lifting of the embargo on details shared at Pixar’s Toy Story 4 press event, which was held earlier in the Spring. As a result, many articles were published by various film sites, detailing filmmaker remarks and including images that we hadn’t seen before. There was a LOT to process and take in, but I’ll share some of the highlights…
ComingSoon.net had a fantastic slideshow gallery with loads of concept art and behind-the-scenes images (like the one above, gotta represent my cowgirl being in there), so I suggest you visit the site yourself to see them all. One of them shows a color script of the movie hanging on the wall at Pixar, which I love and have included below – but scroll past it quickly if you don’t want spoilers, there are some potentially VERY spoilery images included if you zoom in closely. Although their synopsis of the footage they saw at the event matches pretty well with what we already heard from CinemaCon, they did reveal that there’s a new elephant toy character in Bonnie’s closet voiced by Mel Brooks.
IndieWire‘s post on the topic offered some personal insight from Director Josh Cooley how his wife helped shape Woody and Bo’s relationship, which I found particularly interesting:
“I was a 2D animator always beating myself up and I wanted to work for Disney, but I knew I didn’t have the chops for that. But I got interested in story and met some story artists and I wanted to work at Pixar. We were driving around and found ourselves in front of Pixar in around 2001. We stopped by the gate and she told me I was going to work there someday, and I said, ‘Stop it!’ And she went on again and I was mad at her. ‘You can’t just say that — that’s totally unachievable.’ But if she wasn’t there and she never said that, I never would’ve even tried. She completely changed my thinking and approach to the world. It was powerful, and I was thinking that if I could get that feeling and that relationship into this film, then it would be worthy of ‘Toy Story 4.’”
The article also touched on the film’s shift of focus from a romantic comedy to more of an adventure:
“Coming at it from a love story angle, we’d watch it and it didn’t feel right. And the reason was you could’ve told the same story with humans. And that was a realization that it didn’t feel like ‘Toy Story’ yet. It needed to be a ‘Toy Story’ movie but with the emotion of their relationship. I like the balance.”
Mashable provided a great Cooley quote about Bo’s affect on Woody when they reconnect:
“Bo is the thing Woody has always been terrified of — a lost toy! If he just met any toy on the outside, he’d be like ‘well, I don’t want to deal with that.’ But now it’s, like, the closest person to him. So that was really exciting to play with.”
And Producer Mark Nielsen discussed the potential of future Toy Story films:
“Every film we make, we treat it like it’s the first and the last film we’re ever going to make. 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.”
Collider mentioned Cooley’s response to the same question, about it being the end:
“A couple things. One of the challenges of this film was we didn’t want to not include the other films at all. Woody has obviously transitioned from Andy to Bonnie, so that’s a big part of this movie. It’s part of the reason we’re making it. So it had to connect to the other films. We wanted it to also be self-contained as well. Every one of these movies, there is an ending to it but it does feel like it could continue. We don’t know if we’re going to make another one. We didn’t know we were going to make two or three or four. But I’m very happy with this one, and I feel like, in the same tradition, it has a happy ending and it could be the end, it could not be.”
I also loved his story of how Forky got his name:
“Well, you know, we were coming up with a bunch of different names for him, and I showed a picture of him to my son. I think he was probably four at the time, and I go, ‘Hey buddy, what do you think the name of this character is?’ He looks at it and he goes, ‘Hmm, Fork Face.’ And I’m like, ‘That’s hilarious. We cannot use it.’ But the fact that he’s around the same age as Bonnie and didn’t know what a spork was, I thought, ‘That feels real to me.’ So Forky felt like a kid would name him that.”
As well as the mention of Buzz’s friendship with Woody also being significant to the story, since there really hasn’t been any hint of that in the trailers:
“I wanted Bo to be an equal with Woody but not lose Buzz at all. It became essential for Buzz’s relationship with Woody to be present in this film. He couldn’t just become a side-character or anything like that. We all love Buzz but seeing the way they’ve evolved as friends over these films definitely helped influence this film as well.
An article by The Playlist continues the discussion of Buzz’s arc, by mentioning that “Buzz has to learn to support Woody in his decisions.” They also say that, according to Cooley, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Casablanca were two of the biggest inspirations for Toy Story 4. I won’t quote any of the author’s personal thoughts here, but it’s a great overall review of what they saw and experienced, if you want to read it.
Buzz Feed‘s post gave a lot of fun tidbits about the presentation, including the image above of the character lineup. According to them, and the facts they collected from Pixar, Toy Story 4 is set only a couple months after Toy Story 3 (which brings up the question of how the shorts and specials fall into the timeline, but that’s a whole other discussion). They also state that Bo’s persona was heavily influenced by Rey (Star Wars), Dottie (A League of their Own), the Bride (Kill Bill), gymnast Aly Raisman, dancer Sharna Burgess, bo staff martial arts, and spear throwing (among others). My favorite remark, though, was that according to the filmmakers, their goal is for audiences to leave the theater “feeling warmth, nostalgia, and joy.” Again, there are many more details (many of them technical, which I don’t usually post about) on their list of 48 total, so check it out for yourself!
I’ve been trying to refrain from posting spoilers on my blog, but if you want to read descriptions of any new scenes, Screen Rant shared a breakdown of Woody and Bo’s reunion. Having read this scene in the Junior Novel as well, it think it’s super cute, and I’m really looking forward to watching it play out on the big screen. The article also talks a little about the scenes introducing Gabby Gabby and Duke Caboom, which were the other clips shown alongside the footage that had already been previewed at CinemaCon.
One other thing I liked in this article is that they state how the action of the story bounces back and forth between the antique shop, the carnival, and the RV park, as well as asserting that the rest of the gang is still integral to the plot. I’ve been very concerned that the classic gang was being largely left out – based on what we’ve seen so far in clips, marketing, and merchandise – but now that I’ve read the Junior Novel, and looked at the illustrations and screen shots in some of the other books, my fears have been laid to rest. And this was precisely why I read these books in the first place, so that I could put my mind at ease and enjoy the remaining weeks leading up to Toy Story 4‘s release. It was totally worth it, and I know there is still so much more to discover on screen than what I read in simplified children’s books.
Speaking of the original toys, Rivera talked about finding a balance between old and new in an article from Digital Spy:
“There are a bunch of versions of the movie where we would go too far away from the new characters and it felt like too much sameness. Then there were other times we’d overcompensate and there wasn’t enough drive.”
And in a different article on the same site, yet again, Rivera addressed the question of whether this is the end for the series, or if there could be more films in the future:
“It’s always a tricky thing. I feel satisfied that this could be the end, but I felt that about 2, just me personally. I want all of them to feel complete. If this is the last time you see them, you will feel satisfied.”
In addition to the press event recaps, there was also a great article published by D23 about the reimagining of Bo Peep. In it, Story Supervisor Valerie LaPointe made some great comments about Woody’s relationship with Bo:
“Annie Potts’ voice is such a nice contrast to her being this pretty, pink, porcelain doll. She’s confident. She’s flirty with Woody, she’s often the voice of reason to him, and she’s a confidante to him. He talks to her and shares his feelings in a way that’s beyond his relationship with Buzz.”
Josh Cooley also clarified the film’s transition from a true romantic comedy to an adventure film with romantic themes:
“It was clear it couldn’t just be that. It would become a tiny people movie as opposed to a Toy Story film. There’s a ton of adventure in it. ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ isn’t a love story, but it has great romantic elements in it. So, I kind of think of it more like that.”
And Jonas Rivera explained the impact Bo has on Woody’s transformation in the film:
“Although she was a worthy character and there was something interesting to us about paying off their relationship, it wasn’t until probably two years ago that we started going, ‘Well, what if we’ve made it Woody-centric? His worst fear—he said it all along—was to be a lost toy. What if she represented something that would challenge his place in the world? It was almost like a Lady and the Tramp analogy, where one’s out in the world asking, ‘Why wouldn’t you want all this?’ and the other one says, ‘No! I want to be at home.’ Out of anyone, Bo had the potential to change him more than anything ever has.”
I appreciated that the article dealt with the determination of “Team Bo” to maintain the character’s integrity after so many years out of the spotlight. According to Story Artist Carrie Hobson, change was necessary, due to what Bo’s been through:
“It was really essential that we redefined Bo for this movie. As a story team, we worked really hard to figure out what exactly her personality traits were after all this time.”
Character Modeling Artist Tanja Krampfert detailed how they matched this change with an effort to keep Bo true to her former self:
“We got a lot of freedom to redesign her, but still wanted be true to what she was in the first Toy Story. To figure that out, we went all the way back and looked at original 25-year-old drawings and artwork that was made for the first movie. We also looked at every shot of her in the movies to figure out her shapes, her movements, and her facial features to be true to what the audience remembered.”
It’s great that Pixar is putting all this out there, after all the backlash I’ve seen online about Bo’s new look. I, for one, have never had an issue with it, and I think she looks fabulous now. Hobson furthered the discussion on Bo’s personality, and how it has changed yet stayed the same:
“She has this sense of humor, this go-with-the-flow mentality to life now… True to the old Bo, she loves messing with Woody. She was always very sarcastic in the original movies. We wanted to pull upon that wit, but also allow her to be silly and playful. She’s also a little rougher than Woody because she’s seen things. She knows what it takes to get a job done, and she’s not afraid to do it. This new Bo, while she is tough, is also very caring. Her sheep are very important to her, so she’s like a good mom to them. She also loves her BFF, her buddy, Giggle McDimples (Ally Maki). All in all, we wanted to stay true to the core of who Bo was, but allow her to grow as a character to show that she’s adapted and changed. She’s a lost toy now, which Woody doesn’t really get. He’s trying to wrap his head around it all. But together, with their strengths combined — he’s a sheriff, she’s a shepherdess — they make a really great team.”
There have also been a couple of recent video interviews with Jonas Rivera, from the international press junket he was on a few months ago…
I find it particularly important that Rivera refers to Pixar movies as “movies that kids would love, but that they were made by adults and kind of for adults.” As such a big fan of an animated film franchise, I’ve been faced with the “kiddie movie” stigma many times. He also discusses the story potential of Forky not being aware of the rules in the toy world; and calls Bo the “first realist of Toy Story,” noting her necessary “street smarts” in contrast to Woody’s comfortable and somewhat privileged past.
In this one, Rivera is asked about Tim Allen and Tom Hanks’ “emotional ending” descriptions, and here’s his response:
“I’ll start by saying, I don’t want to spoil it, cause I want you to see it. But I think there was a lot in those two — and certainly, us working on the film, in terms of the emotion — one of it was just getting to the end of it, and getting to the end of this particular story, and how long — there was just something about how long we’ve been with these characters. And I think for both actors — you would have to ask them — I was there, and it was really touching, not only because of the material, but because of how deeply those two care, and how deep they have dug into these characters. And I just think, the emotion of just the storytelling and how we’ve changed the characters, and how we — I don’t know — breathed a little bit of a different life and flavor into it, I just think it was touching to them. We were very proud that it felt that important to them. It was a great moment. So, I want you to see it, without spoiling it. But we’re very proud of how we found a way to wrap this one up.”
As with the articles I shared here, it’s definitely watching both of these videos for all the juicy info, some of which reinforces other themes I’ve included in this post. It’s starting to get to the point where a bunch of press will be coming out all at once, and it then becomes a matter of sorting through it all to see which topics overlap, and which offer new tidbits we haven’t heard before.
Whew! I think that’s everything for now, and I’m finally caught up. I’m going to go see what’s new at the Disney Store now, but I’ll be back with more Toy Story 4 news as it hits. Stay tuned!
Images and videos © Disney/Pixar and their respective companies.