TOY STORY 3… They showed a piece of artwork from Toy Story 3 that I hadn’t seen before. It was kind of a haunting image, actually. Woody has his back to us,
overlooking Andy’s room. Woody’s head hangs low. Andy’s room is now a teenager’s. There’s a hill of dirty clothes in the middle of the room, a guitar in one corner, car posters on the wall, etc. No toys to be seen except for Woody himself. Like I said, a sad image.
For the Pixar fans keeping score, "Toy Story 3" was Disney's major bargaining chip in the negotiations over Pixar as their original distribution contract ended. Pixar wanted to leave as an independent studio, but Disney held all of the original movie rights. So they countered, rather diabolically, I think, by opening a cgi animation studio of their own, with the intention of churning out an endless series of sequels to Toy Story and the other Pixar hits. This move had the effect of scaring away the other major Hollywood studios, effectively forcing Pixar back into the Disney fold.
Fortunately for our team, Steve Jobs successfully pulled off a coup, with a Pixar-Disney merger overwhelmingly favorable to their terms. It was one of his sharpest business deals this side of the iPod.
So the "Toy Story 3" project, and the proposed Disney cgi studio were scrapped, but the movie project resumed again, under Pixar and John Lasseter's wing. That was the last anyone heard of the matter.
I do admit I feel somewhat leery about the idea of Pixar revisiting their movies with endless sequels. Like their heroes at Studio Ghibli, they take pride in creating original works, seemingly going out of their way to forge new ground with every feature. Heck, any other studio would have drowned us in aquatic Finding Nemo ripoffs by now. And I doubt Ratatouille or Wall-E would ever have been green-lighted.
This is probably a topic I'll have to tackle in a future post, since it's one of those things that starts me thinking and rambling. But the "short, short version" for now is my concern that Toy Story 3 would be little more than a commercial retread, a sop to the multiplex masses who have become conditioned to name-brand loyalty and little else. And Pixar's fortunes at the box-office may force this move sooner or later.
So I feel pleasantly surprised at this first bit of news on the next Toy Story feature. Perhaps I shouldn't have ever worried, since this remains Lasseter's most beloved child, his Totoro. But this still comes as a surprise. This suggests that the themes of the second Toy Story - the passing of childhood and the loss of innocence - will be expanded even further. Taking the boy into adolescence will take these iconic characters to their conclusions. It also raises some deeper questions about our own aging process, as well as Lasseter and his studio's growth.
My hopes are a lot higher now than before. Interesting, verrrry interesting. We may be in for a real shock.