The History of Toy Story 3

The final theatrical poster for Disney/ Pixar's "Toy Story 3."
The final theatrical poster for Disney/ Pixar's "Toy Story 3."

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Early History/ Background:

When Pixar first shared the idea with Walt Disney Pictures and sold them on distributing the original "Toy Story," no one, defiantly not Pixar or Disney, had any idea how popular Woody, Buzz and the gang would become. So when Pixar signed their original 3 picture deal, neither one of them really thought much of it. Then it was finally released and became a huge hit. Further more, the next Pixar film "A Bug's Life," became an even bigger hit.

So while Pixar didn't think much of it when they signed an extension to that contract for a 5 picture deal and then released "Toy Story 2," they didn't think much of it, Disney however, specifically then CEO Michael Eisner however, had other ideas. Entering the 2000s, Disney's days of animation dominance were slipping and had basically come to and end once again. The only animated films still making tons of money for Disney were Pixar films. Eisner saw Disney's greatest asset in the world of animation through Pixar and wanted to milk them for every dime they could milk out with their films and defiantly wanted to extend the life of the contract the best he could.

To that end, Eisner and Disney decided that "Toy Story 2" didn't count towards the number of films made under the terms of their deal with Pixar as it was a sequel and they counted it under the original "Toy Story" claiming squeals didn't count towards the contract, thus extending the contract by a film. Pixar's CEO Steve Jobs was mad and for a time, it seemed that Pixar would be signing a new contract with another studio or going it alone after what Disney claimed the last film in the contract ("Cars") was released. Fearing the loss and even competition from Pixar, Eisner made it known that Disney was going to use the part of the revised contact that said that Disney, not Pixar, owned rights to the characters that Pixar made under Disney distribution and retained the rights to any and all sequels made off of these films. Further, he was creating an entire animation studio called Circle 7 Animation, that would exist solely to make these sequels to Pixar films.

And so it was that this new Pixar sequel making studio, Circle 7 Animation, would work on their first project: "Toy Story 3." Circle 7 started work on "Toy Story 3" in 2004 and writer Jim Herzfeld write an original scrip where Buzz starts to malfunction and is shipped back to the toy company that made him in Taiwan, with the idea that he would be fixed there. But after finding out on the internet that every Buzz figure was being recalled, Woody and the gang fear his destruction and go on a mission to save him. While there, Buzz meets new toys that have one been loved but also became recalled.

Woody, Buzz and the gang are all back, and off to Sunnyside Day Care.
Woody, Buzz and the gang are all back, and off to Sunnyside Day Care.

Turn of Events/ The Rise of Pixar:

Then in 2005, Michael Eisner was voted out by the Disney Board as CEO of the Walt Disney Company and his new replacement, Bob Iger, stepped in. One of Iger's first assignments from the board was to patch up relations with Pixar. He not only patched up relations with Pixar, but ended up merging the two studios together. As part of the deal that lead to Pixar becoming part of Disney, Pixar CEO Steve Jobs was made a Disney board member and Pixar director/ head man John Lassiter and Pixar Chief Ed Catmull were then put in sole charge of not just Pixar animation, but Disney animation as well. On of the first things Lassiter did was shut Circle 7 down, and he did so March 21, 2006.

A month later, Iger announced that the project that had been shelved when Circle 7 shut down, was being moved to Pixar. Lassiter, along with fellow Pixar guru's Andrew Stanton, Pete Doctor and Lee Unkrich spend a weekend in the same house where they originally developed the first "Toy Story" film to help with the creative juices and wrote the first pitch for their version of "Toy Story 3" with Stanton writing a treatment. Then in February 2007, Catmull announced Unkrich as the sole director of the film with Michael Arndt as screen writer. Randy Newman was once again brought in to score the music and write a new song, "We Belong Together" for the film. As the Pixar animators started to open up the old files from the past film, to use them as a start off point, they found that while they could view them, they could not open them to edit them and use them for the film. So ever 3D model was started over again from scratch. Actors Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and John Ratzenberger were treated to a special story reel of the film, complete with rough animation and sketches and fill in voices. When it was done, all three signed up to re-voice their characters again.

Meet Lots-o-Huggin Bear, the newest "Toy Story" character.  He smells like Strawberries!
Meet Lots-o-Huggin Bear, the newest "Toy Story" character. He smells like Strawberries!

Release:

The film got a massive marketing campaign that included sneak peeks of re-releases of the first two films, a plug on ABC show "Dancing with the Stars," sneak peeks on both Disney Channel and Cartoon Network as well as plugs at the Apple iPhone OS 4 Event on the 8th of April 2010. Likewise, Dolby Labrotories released "Toy Story 3" as the first film in 7.1 surround sound.

"Toy Story 3" received near perfect reviews and opened up to a large $110 million start at the box office, continuing Pixar's string of number one openings at the box office and becoming the higest grossing "G" rated film, Pixar's biggest opener and the best single day opener for an animated film. It has gone on on to a very successful release on DVD and Blu Ray as well as an awards darling heading into Hollywood's award season.

My Initial Thoughts on the Masterpiece:

So I admit it, when I first heard about this film, I was dreading it. I thought of it as another cheep Disney sequel made to earn an extra buck much like the cheaply made direct-to-video films. And just like "Toy Story 2" had, this film started life out just like that. So of course this was back when Disney and Pixar it seemed were going their separate ways and Disney was going to rape the Pixar vault. But then out of nowhere, Pixar not only reconciled with Disney and joined them as part of the company, but suddenly they were making this film and NOT Disney. I suddenly became a bit more optimistic, but still had my fears.

With news of "Cars 2" coming out the summer after, I worried (and still do a bit for the next Pixar sequels) that Pixar was starting to fall into a rut of stupid sequels like every other Hollywood studio. Then coming into 2010, after watching the trailers I started to find more interest in it. Finally I faced facts, even if it wasn't that good, it was still Pixar, so how bad could it be anyway? Even their trash is better then most other studio's best stuff. And even more then that, it was "Toy Story!" I mean this is the film series that started it all: computer animation, Pixar, and possibly the most enduring cartoon characters of the last few decades! Who could hate Buzz and Woody, right? I know I grew up on the first two films in part, and honesty, few Disney or Pixar characters are more beloved by me, and somehow I don't think I'm alone in that feeling.

So, I decided to full on get into the spirit of things and started to get really excited for the film, which the last few years has come back to bite me in the butt. I've gotten really excited for a film and created maybe unrealistic expectations for the movie and then end up not liking it as much as I would maybe if I didn't expect so much from it.

Maybe "Toy Story 3's" greatest accomplishment: Making Ken cool!
Maybe "Toy Story 3's" greatest accomplishment: Making Ken cool!

My "Toy Story 3" Experience:

I wasn't sure what to expect from it. I sat in the theater with my wife opening day for a 5 pm matinee to a packed theater. I can't even think of the last matinee I've been to, even on an opening day that was THAT packed! It seemed I wasn't the only one eagerly anticipating the continuing adventures of Buzz, Woody and the gang.

Then the lights went down and the film started, but not till after the newest Pixar short, "Night and Day" was shown, which while rather innovative, wasn't my favorite Pixar short, which made me worried about "Toy Story 3." Then finally the film started, and what I found was maybe the greatest film I've seen in theaters in a long, long time.

It's no secret that movie tickets are getting more expensive and unfortunately, most films these days don't live up to the high cost it takes to see them. "Toy Story 3" however was one of those rare modern films that actually lives up to the high cost of tickets today. It is worth every last cent and some! From the opening scene with Andy's play time train epic, to the climactic and rather emotional escape from the somewhat certain death the whole gang faced at the clutches of the fiery trash incinerator! It starts strong and never lets up, even with the slower scenes.

What really caught my interest is the chance Pixar took letting their characters get older. It's somewhat common knowledge that cartoon characters seem to never grow old, no matter how old they may be in real time. Pixar though took the chance and let their characters grow up, which directly leads to many of the themes of not only the current films, but the series as a whole period. Each film in this series deals very firmly with change. The first deals with the change toy owner Andy Davis and his family were going through in moving while main character Woody deals with the change of not being the top toy anymore to the new toy, Buzz Lightyear. The second then dealing with even more change and hard choices as Woody has to decide if he wants toy immortality on a shelf in some Japanese museum, or if he is willing to face whatever may come after Andy grows up, but still knowing that he was there for his kid.

"Toy Story 3" answers the questions raised from the first two films and further adds to the changes Woody, Buzz and the gang face. When we last saw the gang, not only were all of the major and minor toys in Andy's room still there, but their numbers increased with Jessie and Bullseye. By the time we get to the start of "Toy Story 3," after the exciting play time segment and home video showing Andy growing up, we are left with only the core cast of the series left. Toys are sold at yard sales, given away, or even broken and thrown away. Amongst the toys lost are Etch-a-Sketch, Bo Peep, RC Racer, Wheezy, and Lenny, all gone. Now Andy is off to college and the remainder of the toys left worry that their usefulness has come to an end. After a mix up, the toys, save for Woody, decide they want to be donated to Sunnyside, a day care place always looking for new toys for their kids. But it doesn't take long for the toys to realize they made a mistake and life at Sunnyside is not as good as they thought.

Woody, who left the toys at Sunnyside, has to go back and save them. The main problem is the toy in charge of Sunnyside, Lots-O-Huggin Bear, is something of a toy tyrant. It seems Lots-O was abandon by his original owner and turned bitter as a result and now is taking it out on every toy under his power at Sunnyside, with the help of his gang of toys. Lots-O to me is another take on the villain from the last film, Stinky Pete, who also was a bitter toy who wants to impose the ill effects of his bitterness on our heroes. He seems to meet a similar fate to Stinky Pete as well.

Woody makes some new friends.
Woody makes some new friends.

Deeper Thoughts on the Film:

What really caught my interest is the chance Pixar took letting their characters get older. It's somewhat common knowledge that cartoon characters seem to never grow old, no matter how old they may be in real time. Pixar though took the chance and let their characters grow up, which directly leads to many of the themes of not only the current films, but the series as a whole period. Each film in this series deals very firmly with change. The first deals with the change toy owner Andy Davis and his family were going through in moving while main character Woody deals with the change of not being the top toy anymore to the new toy, Buzz Lightyear. The second then dealing with even more change and hard choices as Woody has to decide if he wants toy immortality on a shelf in some Japanese museum, or if he is willing to face whatever may come after Andy grows up, but still knowing that he was there for his kid.

"Toy Story 3" answers the questions raised from the first two films and further adds to the changes Woody, Buzz and the gang face. When we last saw the gang, not only were all of the major and minor toys in Andy's room still there, but their numbers increased with Jessie and Bullseye. By the time we get to the start of "Toy Story 3," after the exciting play time segment and home video showing Andy growing up, we are left with only the core cast of the series left. Toys are sold at yard sales, given away, or even broken and thrown away. Amongst the toys lost are Etch-a-Sketch, Bo Peep, RC Racer, Wheezy, and Lenny, all gone. Now Andy is off to college and the remainder of the toys left worry that their usefulness has come to an end. After a mix up, the toys, save for Woody, decide they want to be donated to Sunnyside, a day care place always looking for new toys for their kids. But it doesn't take long for the toys to realize they made a mistake and life at Sunnyside is not as good as they thought.

Woody, who left the toys at Sunnyside, has to go back and save them. The main problem is the toy in charge of Sunnyside, Lots-O-Huggin Bear, is something of a toy tyrant. It seems Lots-O was abandon by his original owner and turned bitter as a result and now is taking it out on every toy under his power at Sunnyside, with the help of his gang of toys. Lots-O to me is another take on the villain from the last film, Stinky Pete, who also was a bitter toy who wants to impose the ill effects of his bitterness on our heroes. He seems to meet a similar fate to Stinky Pete as well.

During the whole adventure at Sunnyside, our heroes deal with a number of heavy topics and issues. Is it better to be played with by kids at the day care center, or face an uncertain future in Andy's mom's attic? At what point do they have any commitments to one another? Further, what loyalty do they have to Andy? He's grown up and done playing with the toys, do they still owe him some bit of loyalty anyway even if it means being put up in the attic and never played with again? While these are issue they face as toys, each of these issue can be transformed into human problems we face privately in our own lives as we grow older.


Andy all grown up.
Andy all grown up.

Lessons Learned at the End:

Woody, after saving the other toys and escaping from a very exciting climax at the trash dump, finally gets the toys back home to Andy, only to face being separated once more as Andy has decided he wants to take Woody with him to college after all, and box up the other toys, even Buzz, and put them in the attic. Woody, deciding it's more important to stay together with the gang, and that they get played with, quickly writes Andy a note pretending it's from his mom, and tells him he should donate the toys to a little girl who lives down the street that Woody spend some time with during the time he was away from Sunnyside. It seems though that the toys are not the only ones having a hard time letting go as Andy himself seems to find it hard to let go of these toys. As is seen in the first two films, the toys provided him with many fun filled hours of enjoyment over the years and very much represent the best aspects of his childhood.

Andy finally comes to terms with his growing up and decides to give the gang to Bonnie, the little girl Woody suggested he donate the toys to, but not before one last play time with the toys, who he shows off to Bonnie. It was maybe the most emotion moment in a Pixar film and I'll fully admit made me cry like a baby. It was a very emotionally charged moment that ended with Woody, Buzz and the gang with a new owner and Andy gone for good. It would be about the same thing as Christopher Robin of "Winnie-the-Pooh" giving up Pooh and friends after he grew up. Andy is to "Toy Story" what Christopher Robin is to "Winnie-the-Pooh" after all.

It made it that much more emotionally when Andy realized that Woody was in there by mistake, but seeing and recognizing Woody from before, Bonnie kind of was thinking he was hers now so Andy was faced with the choice of holding on to Woody and making Bonnie sad, or letting him, and his childhood, go for good. Woody was more then just a toy to Andy, he was a very special part of who he is as a person, his best friend. So it literally was like he gave a part of himself to Bonnie and left it there in her yard. It doesn't have to be a toy we give up as it could be anything, but each of us have or will have at least one moment like Andy had at the end there. Pixar did an amazing job capturing that reality on film in this moving and emotional ending.

At the end there, Pixar set up for a very defined ending to their "Toy Story" films, but also the beginning of a new series with the toy's new owner, Bonnie. It leaves Pixar in control of their most famous characters futures. But either way, they have maybe given us their greatest film yet with amazing story, emotional character arcs, and some truly funny, yet heart-filled moments that will make any movie fan want to go to "Infinity and Beyond!"

1.
Toy Story 3 (Four-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
Toy Story 3 (Four-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)

"Toy Story 3" on Blu Ray/ DVD Combo Pack.

 
3.
Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3

"Toy Story 3" on DVD.

 

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Comments 2 comments

AEvans profile image

AEvans 5 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

What an interesting history, it is always great to learn something new. :)


milojthatch profile image

milojthatch 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

@ AEvans: Thanks! I think the backstory to this film is interesting.

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