By Katrina Uy, Blog Editor
The toys are back, and Pixar is at it again with yet another sequel to add to their wildly successful film franchise. On Friday, it was announced that the animation studio has plans to make “Toy Story 4,” to be released June 16, 2017.
Not much is known about the upcoming sequel, other than that Pixar’s chief creative officer John Lasseter will be back to direct (he previously directed “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2”) and that Rashida Jones and Will McCormack will be writing the script, though past Pixar directors like Andrew Stanton (“Finding Nemo”), Pete Docter (“Monsters Inc.”) and Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”) helped conceptualize the story.
The real question is, why does there have to be another sequel? When we left off in “Toy Story 3,” the toys had a near-death experience, Andy had left for college, and more than a few of us teared up when he said goodbye to his childhood and gave the toys to Bonnie.
For many of us, we were also saying goodbye and growing up as we watched Andy on the screen. Four years ago, I was sitting in the theater watching the film with some of my best friends in high school. It was the end of our junior year and all anyone could talk about were SAT scores, getting into the best college and just growing up in general. When Andy left for college, the tears started flowing. It was inevitable; it hit too close to home. Giving the toys to a new owner was the perfect ending. Talk about closure, after a trilogy that spanned 15 years.
We grew up with these characters, yes, but we also moved on. Seriously, what’s next? Why does there have to be another movie?
The obvious and unfortunate answer is to milk the franchise for all it’s worth – an eye-roll inducing trend in Hollywood.
Rumors about a fourth “Toy Story” film have been floating around since 2010, when “Toy Story 3” first came out. Since then, Pixar has released “Toy Story Toons,” a series of film shorts, and “Toy Story of Terror!” in 2013, a Halloween-themed TV special. The franchise has been very successful; “Toy Story 3” alone grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide.
Coming up with fresh and original stories and worlds isn’t too much of a stretch for the studio, judging from its lineup. “Inside Out,” slated for release in June 2015, is about an 11-year-old girl’s five emotions (Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness) guiding her through life, and “The Good Dinosaur,” also set for 2015, centers around what the world would have been like if dinosaurs never went extinct.
Pixar’s unique storylines are smart and entertaining for people of all ages, and I – as well as many others – am a huge fan. But in 2013, the studio announced that it would be alternating between sequels and original films every other year — too many sequels, in my opinion. What ever happened to that satisfying feeling of ending a perfectly good story with a black screen and the end credits? What happened to pushing the envelope and taking creative risks with new stories instead of falling back on old ones?
Are we inclined to be more responsive to the familiarity of characters and references to previous films rather than new stories with new worlds? Sometimes audiences are left wondering about what will happen next in a story, and sometimes watching sequels for the first time feels good and even comforting, as if you’ve just been reunited with an old friend. But this isn’t the case with “Toy Story 4,” at least for me.
Pixar’s almost clean track record of financially successful and critically acclaimed films (except “Cars 2” — never forget) proves that there may be hope for a fourth “Toy Story” flick. And being the die-hard Disney/Pixar fan that I am, deep, deep down I know I’m rooting for the film to impress me and exceed my high expectations.
I’m hoping it will. But would it really be such a crime to leave a perfectly good story alone, for once?