‘Lightyear’ Film and New Toy Story Disney+ Content Announced

Finally, we get a little bit of brightness in this dismal year! Today was Disney’s Investor Day, and in their livestream, some amazing new stuff was announced, that none of us fans saw coming!

Lightyear

I’m SO excited for this one! Described as the origin story of the real Buzz Lightyear, who the toy was based on, Lightyear will be a feature film, hitting theaters on June 17, 2022. Starring Chris Evans as the voice of young test pilot Buzz, it’ll show how he came to be the Space Ranger we know and love. Here are the official announcements that hit social media earlier this evening:

In the livestream, Pixar Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter presented the trailer for the film (as well as Disney+ content, which will be described below). He offered this description:

Coming in the summer of 2022, is a science fiction adventure film unlike anything we’ve done before. At first glance you might think, this is a Toy Story film. Well, not so fast. See, back when we created the very first Toy Story, we designed Buzz Lightyear with the idea that he was a toy based on some really cool character from an epic blockbuster film. Well, all these years later, we decided, it’s time to make that film. Directed by Pixar vet Angus MacLane, co-director of Finding Dory, Lightyear is the definitive origin story of the original Buzz Lightyear, and it reveals how this young test pilot became the Space Ranger we all know him to be today.

And we’re excited to announce this new Buzz Lightyear will be voiced by none other than Chris Evans. You don’t get much more traditional Pixar than Buzz, and we’re excited to have Chris’s help in bringing a new twist to this iconic character. We can’t wait to take audiences to infinity and beyond, as Lightyear launches into theaters in the summer of 2022.

Yeah, I’m a big Jessie fan, but I’m really looking forward to this movie, because I adore Buzz, too! And even though this isn’t about toy Buzz, it’s still his fundamental identity, and it will be fascinating to see more of Star Command, and his backstory – elements that would be part of who the toy character is as well, ingrained in his programming. But probably the thing that has me most excited about Lightyear is that it’s directed by Angus MacLane – who also directed the Toy Story Toon Small Fry and my absolute favorite, Toy Story of Terror. His work in the Toy Story franchise has been some of the very best, in my opinion, so I cannot wait to see what he does with this one! (As a side note, can we just appreciate how freaking cool the logo is, too? Wow.)

But, oh, social media. I’m already getting the dramatic comments on Instagram. “Why no Tim Allen?!?” [insert sobbing emoji] Because this is young Buzz, human Buzz, NOT toy Buzz. I love Tim Allen, but this isn’t replacing him – it’s a completely different iteration of the character. Chris Evans himself has clarified this on social media:

Personally, I think Chris Evans is the perfect choice to play young Buzz, and I know he’ll do an excellent job. Besides, who’s to say Tim Allen doesn’t make an appearance somehow, either as another character or as a flash-forward to older, decorated Space Ranger Buzz? I wouldn’t rule anything out at this point, but either way, it’s gonna be great.

Also, I’d like to clarify that this is NOT a live-action remake of the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command cartoon from the early 2000s. From what I understand, Pixar was not exactly crazy about that series, so there is no reason to expect that any major elements of it will make it into the film (although I wouldn’t rule out an Easter egg or two for fan service). Lightyear is something entirely new and original, and that’s what makes it sound so fantastic!

UPDATE: Thanks to some comments on the social media posts made by those on the Lightyear filmmaking crew, I’m thrilled to discover that Galyn Susman is the movie’s Producer! A longtime Pixarian who worked on the first Toy Story film, she was also Producer on the Toy Story Toon Hawaiian Vacation, and television specials Toy Story of Terror and Toy Story That Time Forgot. She was recently featured on Pixar’s social media pages, in honor of Toy Story’s 25th anniversary, and although at the time we had no clue what her new project was, here’s what she had to say about it:

Currently, I am a Producer, working on an unannounced feature film at Pixar. And guess what? It feels new and exciting, and my team is passionate about the project in a way that is so reminiscent of my experience on Toy Story. They make me feel young again, and again, I feel very blessed.

Sounds like things have been going far more smoothly on this production than they did for Toy Story 4. Susman and MacLane previously worked together on Toy Story of Terror (with him directing), and since I’ve already pointed out that that special is one of my most favorite things to come out of the franchise, I’m super happy that they’re partnering up for something else, even if it only involves one Toy Story character this time. Lightyear is in excellent hands!


Disney+

Pixar announced a whole slew of new content for Disney+ as well, including a series called Dug Days, which solves the mystery of what Forky Asks a Question director Bob Peterson has been working on since the Forky shorts were released. There’s also a Cars series in the works, as well as a completely original series called Win or Lose. But the one that I’m most interested in is Pixar Popcorn. Pete Docter described it in the presentation:

This collection of mini-shorts feature your favorite Pixar characters in all-new bite-size stories created by Pixar animators.

These will include the worlds of Coco, Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Cars, and Soul, as well as Toy Story. The Toy Story episodes are titled “To Fitness and Beyond” – starring Buzz, of course – and “Fluffy Stuff with Ducky & Bunny.” Honestly, the Ducky and Bunny one is the only thing out of today’s announcements that I’m not totally thrilled about. Those two got SO much attention surrounding Toy Story 4, and I’ve had my fill. I’ll watch it when it premieres, but I’d rather see more of the classic characters.

Pixar Popcorn will debut on Disney+ on Friday, January 22, 2021, so it’s much sooner than Lightyear! No details on runtime for the shorts was given, but calling them “bite-size” makes me think that they’ll be in that 2-minute range like Forky Asks a Question. It’s short, but hopefully sweet, and I’m always holding out hope that we’ll see more of Bonnie’s room sometime in the future!

I just have to say, it’s wonderful to have something fun to anticipate again, both with Pixar Popcorn and (especially) Lightyear! After such a bleak year, it’s beens so great fangirling with my friends tonight – and we’re just getting started. Once again, we’ve got a year and a half of news to be on the lookout for, and sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln, I cannot wait until we get the first full look at human Buzz! Thank you Pixar! This is a much-needed gift.

Images and video © Disney/Pixar. Pixar Popcorn screencap from Disney TV Animation News on Twitter, as all the video replays I found on YouTube had reaction videos imbedded in them.