Disney Cuts “Controversial” ‘Toy Story’ Franchise, Officially Replaced

Toy Story Franchise
Credit: Pixar Animation Studios

In a significant shift for Pixar Animation Studios, Disney has decided to halt the beloved Toy Story franchise and redirect its efforts toward expanding other successful properties.

This decision follows a period of fluctuating fortunes for Disney and Pixar, marked by some high-profile missteps and a few surprising successes.

Sheriff woody watching over children playing in a playground, depicted in an animated style with colorful toys and equipment scattered around in Toy Story 3.

Credit: Pixar Animation Studios

A Rocky Road for Disney Animation

The Walt Disney Company has experienced a tumultuous few years in its animation division. Despite the sleeper success of Elemental (2023), which grossed $496.4 million after an extended theatrical run, other releases have struggled to find their footing. The most notable failure came with Lightyear (2022), a spinoff from the Toy Story franchise that aimed to explore the origin story of the “real” Buzz Lightyear.

Unfortunately for Disney, the film lost a staggering $106 million, making it one of the company’s most significant flops.

Following Lightyear, Strange World (2022) and Wish (2023) continued the trend of underperforming films, with Strange World earning the dubious honor of being the biggest bust in Disney animation history. This string of failures culminated in a second consecutive year without an Oscar win for Best Animated Feature, with Studio Ghibli’s The Boy and the Heron claiming the prize in 2023. The last time Disney faced a similar losing streak was in 2006.

Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) traveling at lightspeed in the 'Lightyear' trailer

Credit: Disney Pixar

Reviving Old Favorites, Led By Toy Story

In response to these challenges, Disney has opted to lean heavily on its established franchises. Announcements of sequels for Frozen, Zootopia, and Moana suggest a clear strategy: rely on proven properties to regain box office dominance.

While Pixar’s Inside Out 2 is set to release in 2024 and holds the potential to break the losing streak, industry insiders believe the upcoming Toy Story 5 might finally restore Disney’s animation prestige.

Despite the anticipation surrounding Toy Story 5, details about the film remain scarce. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are confirmed to reprise their iconic roles, but no plot details or trailers have been released. The film is slated for a 2025 or 2026 release, likely leaning towards the latter.

Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) looking shocked in 'Toy Story 4'

Credit: Disney / Pixar

The End of an Era: Toy Story‘s Impact

The Toy Story franchise, which began in 1995, revolutionized animation and storytelling. The saga of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and their companions captured the imaginations of audiences worldwide, exploring themes of loyalty, identity, and acceptance.

With each installment, from Toy Story (1995) to Toy Story 4 (2019), the series has grown both technically and narratively, consistently delivering heartfelt stories that resonate across generations.

However, despite its longstanding success and cultural impact, Disney’s decision to likely discontinue the Toy Story franchise after the fifth installment marks the end of an era. Instead, the company is reportedly turning its attention to another beloved property: The Incredibles.

Elastigirl, Mr. Incredible, and Violet Parr gasp in front of skyscrapers.

Credit: Pixar

Shifting Focus: The Rise of The Incredibles

The Incredibles 2 (2018) holds the record as Disney Pixar’s highest-grossing film, raking in an impressive $1.25 billion at the box office. This success has prompted Pixar to prioritize The Incredibles franchise, with reports indicating that a third installment is in development.

The original The Incredibles (2004) was a game-changer for Pixar, blending superhero action with family dynamics in a way that captivated audiences. The sequel continued this trend, further exploring the Parr family’s adventures and solidifying the franchise’s place in popular culture. Given its proven box office draw and expansive presence in Disney Parks, The Incredibles 3 seems like a strategic move for Pixar as it seeks to capitalize on established successes.

The Incredibles

Credit: Pixar

During Disney’s Q2 Earnings Call, CEO Bob Iger acknowledged the company’s strategic pivot towards sequels and familiar intellectual properties. In a recent statement, he emphasized the need to balance sequels with original content, particularly in animation.

“We’re going to balance sequels with originals, particularly in animation,” he said. “We had gone through a period when our original films in animation, both Disney and Pixar, were dominating. We’re now swinging back a bit to lean on sequels.”

This shift comes after a period when original films from Disney and Pixar dominated the market. Now, the pendulum is swinging back towards leveraging well-loved franchises to ensure box office returns.

This strategy is evident in Disney’s slate of upcoming releases. Alongside Inside Out 2, Pixar will reportedly focus on The Incredibles 3 and potentially Finding Nemo 3, both expected to hit theaters around 2026 or 2027. Marvel and Disney Studios are also doubling down on sequels, with Deadpool and Wolverine, Moana 2, and Mufasa: The Lion King on the horizon.

Ellen DeGeneres as Dory in Finding Nemo

Credit: Pixar

Disney’s Gamble on Sequels, including Toy Story and The Incredibles

The decision to move away from a sixth installment of the Toy Story franchise and redirect resources towards The Incredibles is part of a broader trend within Disney to play it safe by banking on familiar stories and characters. Sequels inherently carry less risk than original films, as they come with built-in fan bases and established narratives.

This approach provides a safer bet for ensuring box office success in a time of financial uncertainty and competitive pressure, and The Incredibles have already proven to be a successful commodity.

Woody laughing at Buzz Lightyear on a cowboy bed

Credit: Pixar

However, this strategy also comes with its own set of challenges. Over-reliance on sequels can lead to franchise fatigue, where audiences grow weary of repetitive storylines. Disney must balance this approach by also nurturing original content to keep its portfolio diverse and dynamic.

At this time, it’s important to note that Disney has not confirmed The Incredibles 3 or Finding Nemo 3, as these are still reports and not official announcements from the company.

What do you think of these reported decisions by Disney? Let us know in the comments!

This post Disney Cuts “Controversial” ‘Toy Story’ Franchise, Officially Replaced appeared first on Inside the Magic.

About Andrew Boardwine

A frequent visitor of Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort, Andrew will likely be found freefalling on Twilight Zone Tower of Terror or enjoying Pirates of the Caribbean. Over at Universal, he'll be taking in the thrills of the Jurassic World Velocicoaster and Revenge of the Mummy

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