Disney/PIXAR’s newest Toy Story has fans completely shocked by doing something that Disney has never seen or done before.
In February, following a slew of fairly awful financial news delivered by Disney CEO Bob Iger to Wall Street’s finest during The Walt Disney Company’s fiscal first-quarter earnings call, a much more lively and exciting announcement was made: three new films were in the works at Disney and PIXAR–each one a sequel in an already-successful franchise.
Three Franchises Will Save Them
Iger revealed three new films in production: Zootopia 2, Frozen 3, and Toy Story 5. Ultimately, Disney is looking to each of the three successful animated film franchises to hit yet another home run to help pull the company out of its proverbial slump of late at the box office, and if any animated film franchises can do it, Zootopia, Frozen, and Toy Story can!
While details about each film are still scant, fans have heard more about Toy Story 5 than the other two films, perhaps because the fourth installment of the PIXAR franchise that began in November 1995–and ultimately put PIXAR Animation Studios on the map–served to divide Toy Story‘s fan base, and some are wondering if the fifth film will “fix” what the fourth film “destroyed.”
But First, PIXAR Must Right Some Wrongs
In Toy Story 4 (2019), Andy, Woody’s original owner, is but a distant memory at the beginning of the film. Bonnie, to whom Andy gave all of his toys, including Woody and Buzz Lightyear, is front and center in the film’s storyline. Twelve minutes into the film, five-year-old Bonnie is headed to Orientation Day at Kindergarten, where, during craft time, she crafts a toy from a plastic spork, pipe cleaners, a couple of googly eyes, and some play putty.
Forky, as the child comes to call the “toy,” is born, and what follows is one hour and 28 minutes of some of the most non-sensical and creepiest elements fans have ever seen in a PIXAR film (or in any animated film, for that matter). And though many diehard Toy Story fans were kind enough to look past the strange addition of a plastic utensil to the gang of toys in Bonnie’s room, Woody and Buzz fans simply could not overlook PIXAR’s heart-wrenching, out-of-canon, out-of-character arc decision to split up Andy’s original dynamic duo.
An article published shortly after the debut of the film calls PIXAR’s fourth Toy Story rodeo “awful:”
“[It was awful] from the opening scene that teased us with a counterfeit version of Andy and tricked us into thinking back over that ‘Toy Story nostalgia,’ all the way to the end when they ripped our hearts out as we mourned not only the parting of ways between two friends but also the treachery being played out before us as (apparently) new writers created a scenario in which our beloved Woody would never have participated.
Was the vending machine of ideas at PIXAR out of creative juices? [PIXAR] never produces junk. It’s always one masterpiece after another, which leaves us wondering if all the stellar and talented directors and writers at the studio were abducted by aliens and replaced with more aliens taking on the former Pixar peeps’ human forms who then wrote ‘Toy Story 4.’ Maybe it was aliens. It’s quasi-plausible.
There’s great value in plot continuity in any film, and that’s not what we were afforded in ‘Toy Story 4.'”
In short, lots of diehard fans are waiting to find out if PIXAR repairs the damage the studio has caused in the relationship between Woody and Buzz.
A “Toy Story” Surprise While We Wait
But Toy Story 5 isn’t the only project that’s been in the works at PIXAR. In an effort to drum up more “buzz” about the upcoming film–and perhaps to attempt to give ESPN a bit of a boost as well–Disney and PIXAR recently joined forces with ESPN and the NFL to bring fans an event unlike any other.
You don’t have to know how to ice the kicker or blitz the running back, and you don’t have to know how a pigskin relates to a gridiron or what NFL stands for to have enjoyed PIXAR’s most recent addition to the Toy Story franchise. On Sunday morning, The Walt Disney Company and subsidiaries PIXAR and ESPN joined forces with the National Football League (NFL) to bring fans a never-before-seen take on one of the most beloved pastimes in America.
A recent study at St. Bonaventure University found that 72% of Americans are football fans, and forty-seven percent of them admit that football is their favorite sport. But the love of American football goes well beyond the U.S. borders. According to Statista, Mexico, Brazil, and Canada boast huge NFL audiences, totaling 23.3 million people, 19.7 million people, and 7.21 million people, respectively.
Fantasy Football: “Toy Story”-Style
Maybe that’s why Sunday morning’s special Toy Story Funday Football presentation was such a hit. The event was a fully animated real-time reenactment of the action taking place on the field between the Atlanta Falcons and the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 4 of the NFL season. The actual game was played at Wembley Stadium in London, and every move of every player throughout the entire game was broadcast in an animated version of the game that happened at the very same time in the most famous setting in the Toy Story franchise–Andy’s room.
The live event was available on Disney+, ESPN+, and on mobile with NFL+. It was also broadcast on Disney+ in several other countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia. At this time, the broadcast is still available to replay.
During the event, each of the Atlanta Falcons and the Jacksonville Jaguars had an animated representation playing football inside Andy’s room while Woody, Buzz, and the gang cheered from the sidelines. Andy’s room was decorated with NFL posters, ESPN logos, and icons from Great Britain, and there was even a Jaguars jersey hanging out of Andy’s clothes hamper.
Slinky Dog embraced his coils as he served as the first-down marker during the game. Fans could watch every run, every pass, and every play as they happened during the live game in London–all from the comfort of Andy’s room, thanks to state-of-the-art tracking technology powered by the NFL’s Next Gen Stats and Beyond Sports. Even the ESPN commentators were on the scene in Andy’s room, and the half-time show features a special presentation of Duke Caboom’s Motorcycle Spectacular.
We’re told that Pizza Planet made a huge delivery for the ESPN team on-site at Andy’s house during the half-time show as well.
“Toy Story” Saves the Day!
The exciting Funday Football in Andy’s room was a huge hit with fans. Disney announced that the Falcons v. Jaguars real-time game in London was the most-viewed event in ESPN+ history, and as for all the action in Andy’s room during the Toy Story Funday Football event . . . Woody, Buzz, Slinky, and the gang, along with quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence, Desmond Ridder, and their respective teammates, helped make the event the biggest live event on Disney+ since the streamer first rolled out in November 2019.
Once again, Toy Story saves the day. And if the toys can do it alongside the NFL, we know we’re in for a fantastic fifth film in the franchise. And this writer, for one, can hardly wait!