There’s good news and bad news for Pixar fans.
The bad news is that Toy Story 4 has been delayed. No doubt the animators have been wasting too much time playing with their character models and doing “research” that involves seeing how many Mr Potato Head accessories the average three year old can fit up their nose.
The good news, though, is that Pixar isn’t about to leave us without a movie to enjoy in the far-off year of 2018. Instead of rejoining Woody and the gang in what will no doubt be yet another lost toy rescue movie, we’ll be getting that Incredibles sequel that fans of the original have been dying for since about four minutes after they watched the first movie.
Now, The Incredibles 2 is coming on June 15, 2018, while Toy Story 4 is coming a year later, on June 21, 2019.
As Pixar is part of the mighty Disney Empire, it’s likely that this switch in release dates is primarily thanks to the availability of key team members. If Brad Bird is free immediately and John Lasseter is busy with something else, it makes sense to flip around which film gets priority.
Of course, there could be a different reason for wanting to take more time with Toy Story 4. Perhaps the movie’s writers have finally realized that the franchise has painted itself into a corner with its decidedly final third installment.
Continuing the Toy Story saga after its third film isn’t going to be an easy process. The final ten minutes of Toy Story 3 are entirely focused on saying goodbye to the characters, resolving their abandonment issues, and providing them with a satisfying Happily Ever After conclusion.
Andy’s departure from Woody’s life is a very literal Ride Off Into The Sunset moment, and finding an excuse to return to these characters for a story of any note is difficult.
There’s also a bigger problem, though: Toy Story 3 is impossible to top in terms of sheer, unadulterated emotional gut-punches.
Yes, we’re talking about the furnace.
Disney’s had some sad moments in the past. The death of Bambi’s mother is forever etched on the retinas of many children who grew up traumatized and unwilling to eat venison (spoiler alert for a fifty year old movie). A similar thing happened when Mufasa died, and the first ten minutes of Up are some of the most agonizingly beautiful storytelling ever committed to film.
But nothing comes close to that furnace scene in Toy Story 3.
Here are a group of beloved characters, that the audience has grown up with. They’re dirty, tired, abandoned, unloved, and out of options. They’re trapped by an enormous wall of flaming death, and in their final moments, they all hold hands and wait to die.
No matter what Pixar does with Toy Story 4, it’s impossible to make a scene that’s more traumatic than this.
No doubt the movie has been delayed so that writers can take a year to craft the perfect tearjerker moment for the next film.
Make no mistake: Pixar wants to you suffer. They want to you weep painful, bitter tears as you watch beloved children’s characters suffer.
Until the studio is absolutely certain that they’ve got a third act for Toy Story 4 that’s as nihilistically brutal as the furnace scene, they’re going to keep working on the movie.
On the other hand, maybe The Incredibles will feature more of that adorable Jak-Jak, gurgling and laughing like the little cutie pie that he is.
It’s win-win with Pixar at the moment.