20 years ago, Pete Docter’s life changed when he was one of the four credited writers who came up with the original story for Pixar’s first feature film, “Toy Story.”
“Toy Story,” which also happened to be the first computer-generated animated film, wasn’t just a hit at the box office when it opened in 1995 (it has a lifetime domestic gross of $191.7 million, or $365.8 million if going by 2015 ticket prices). It changed the way audiences wanted their animation.
“Toy Story” was well-executed on a number of levels not previously expected from cartoons — from the jokes that could work for parents as well as they do for kids, to the powerful story of a toy cowboy named Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) who becomes jealous when the spaceman action figure, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), becomes the new “it” toy of the household.
And two decades later, Docter is still witness to the movie’s powerful effect.
On the phone with Business Insider from Havana, Cuba, following his latest directing effort “Inside Out” being nominated for Best Animated Film at the Golden Globes, Docter recalled his latest “Toy Story” encounter.
“Last night I was talking to a woman who’s 51 years old and she started crying as she was talking about the deep connection she feels ‘Toy Story’ has with her and her son,” Docter told BI. “She said they would sit and watch the film and she felt it really taught him a lot of things and they connected through it.”
But Docter is the first to admit that, as the filmmakers tried to get the movie off the ground so many years ago, none of them thought it would become so immense.
“We were just trying to tell the story and use the technology in a way that had never been done before,” Docter said.
But what he and his follow Pixar creators — including “Toy Story” director and Pixar head John Lasseter — have done is revolutionise not just the way we think about animated movies, but also the Disney animation brand.
Once in a funk telling the same hand-drawn stories handed down by Walt Disney, the company acquired Pixar’s more mature tales and instantly moved back to being an innovator of the medium. That included not just the release of three more “Toy Story” movies, but other award-winning — and more importantly — unconventional animated movies like “Monsters, Inc.,” “Finding Nemo,” “WALL-E,” and “Inside Out,” to name just a few.
“Twenty years later and halfway around the world the film still affects people,” Docter said. “I would never have been able to forecast that.”
And it’s not over.
A “Toy Story 4” is in the works, as reported earlier this year. Not much detail about it has been released, other than hints that it won’t be a continuation of the trilogy, which Docter confirmed to BI.
“It feels very different,” said Docter, who also told us Lasseter is directing the next entry. “There are a lot of the same characters from the first three, but to me it feels like a new direction. It’s pretty neat.”
“Toy Story 4” is slated to be released by Disney in 2018.
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