On Saturday, June 8, I was part of a press junket that focused on Toy Story 4. It was held backstage at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We had been lucky enough to watch the finished film the day before. For a spoiler-free review click here! There were two sessions to the press conference. The actors in the first one were Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear), Keanu Reeves (Duke Caboom), and Christina Hendricks (Gabby Gabby). The second session featured actors Tom Hanks (Woody), Annie Potts (Bo Peep), and Tony Hale (Forky). On hand for both sessions were Director Josh Cooley, and Producers Jonas Rivera and Mark Nielsen.
We were not allowed to video record either of the two sessions. We could take small sound bites, and pictures were allowed. Getting the perfect picture was not all that easy, since we were in a room that was filled with other people who were also trying to get pictures. Since we can’t add the two press conferences in their entirety, I thought that I would share with you some bits of information that we learned, plus an observation or two.
Forky is a loveable new character in Toy Story 4. He was created by Bonnie, and immediately became her favorite. Already Forky themed toys and other merchandise are flying off of store shelves. Forky fans will be happy to know that there is more fun with the spork on the way! A ten episode series called Forky Asks a Question will be available to watch on Disney+ once the new streaming service has launched in November. Once again Forky will be voiced by Tom Hale.
Speaking of Tom Hale, Tom Hanks had a great time teasing him about the popularity of the new character. He made jokes about how it is all going to go to Hale’s head.
Another piece of news had to do with Easter eggs in Toy Story 4. Director Josh Cooley told us that there are nods to every single previous Pixar film in the new movie. He said to especially watch in the antique store. A quote directly from Cooley, “If you pause any frame in the story you’ll see something in the background. From every movie Pixar’s ever done, there’s something in the antique store.” I noticed a couple of things in the antique store that I thought were Easter eggs during our screening, and there is a little girl in one scene outside of the store who bears a striking resemblance to Boo from Monsters, Inc. I can’t wait to see the film again to see what else I can spot.
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One question that was on everyone’s mind was whether or not this will be the last film in the Toy Story franchise. After being told that they are satisfied with the way that everything wrapped up, we were given a glimmer of hope. As said by Producer Jonas Rivera, “There’s an implied future to all these films. And we sort of never say never at Pixar. But as storytellers, we’re satisfied with this as closing the chapter.” Tom Hanks then went on to say that there could be a future for the franchise, it just might not be what you expect. He gave a few details that he wasn’t supposed to give, and everyone got a good laugh as he pulled the pages out of his pocket of the things that he was allowed to say.
Christina Hendricks talked about how Gabby Gabby is a character that reminds you that you should not make judgements. Keanu Reeves had a good time joking about Duke Caboom being a “crybaby” after someone in the audience referred to the character that way. Annie Potts mentioned how happy she was to play Bo Peep once again, and how much she enjoyed the changes to the character.
One of my favorite parts about the press junket was listening to Tim Allen and Tom Hanks speak about the other. They have been Woody and Buzz for over 25 years, and it is obvious that they have developed a strong friendship. They did not appear together in the same session, making their remarks more genuine. Hanks mentioned how he and Allen will get together every three months or so, just to catch up.
Toy Story 4 will officially hit theaters on June 21, although viewings will begin at 6:00 the evening before. You don’t have to be overly familiar with the other Toy Story movies in order to enjoy it, the film stands up well on its own. If you are looking for a movie that has a little bit of everything, Toy Story 4 is it.