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As Disney and Pixar prepare to release the highly anticipated Toy Story 4, the company has kept much of the storyline under wraps. But over the past few months, the companies have released previews to clue audiences in to what the beloved toys have been up to since Toy Story 3, which debuted in 2010.
The upcoming film is not a continuation of the third movie in the franchise. When viewers last saw the toys, they were mistakenly delivered to a day care center as their owner, Andy, prepared to head off to college. Woody (Tom Hanks) took it upon himself to convince the toys that they had not been intentionally abandoned, and they embarked on a mission to head home.
Toy Story 4 also features the voices of Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Keanu Reeves, Keegan-Michael Key, Annie Potts, Jordan Peele, Tony Hale, Christina Hendricks, Michael Keaton, Bonnie Hunt, Timothy Dalton, Jeff Garlin and Laurie Metcalf. Randy Newman, who has been a mainstay of the Toy Story series, also returns to contribute to the film’s music.
Before the film’s release on June 21, The Hollywood Reporter has compiled a guide of everything you need to know about the highly anticipated animated sequel.
Many of the stars that appeared in the first three films have returned for Toy Story 4. In addition to returning characters voiced by Hanks, Allen, Cusack, Rickles, Potts, Keaton, Hunt, Metcalf and more, Hale, Key, Peele, Reeves and Hendricks are among the new castmembers.
Read on to see which famous voices belong to each character.
Tom Hanks: Plays Woody, the main protagonist of the Toy Story franchise. He is a pull-string cowboy doll that acts as the leader of the other toys. He’s introduced as Andy’s favorite toy in the first movie, though he gets some serious competition when Buzz Lightyear joins the collection. In the upcoming film, Woody leads the toys on a road trip to bring Forky home.
Tim Allen: Plays Buzz Lightyear, a toy Space Ranger that was introduced in the first film. Buzz is best known for his bravery and courage, but he can also be impulsive and unemotional.
Annie Potts: Plays Bo Peep, a porcelain figurine that is Woody’s main love interest. While she has major roles in the first two movies, she only briefly appears in the third film. Woody and Bo Peep reunite in Toy Story 4.
Joan Cusack: Plays Jessie, a pull-string cowgirl that is athletic, excitable and brave. She was introduced in the second film and acts as a love interest to Buzz.
Tony Hale: Plays Forky, Bonnie’s new makeshift toy made out of a spork, googly eyes and pipe cleaners. He has a hard time accepting that he is a toy and ultimately runs away.
Keegan-Michael Key: Plays newcomer Ducky. He is a stuffed duck that crosses paths with Woody and Buzz while he acts as a prize at a carnival.
Jordan Peele: Plays Bunny, a blue and green stuffed bunny that is also a carnival prize. He’s friends with Ducky and wants to be won by a child playing carnival games.
Keanu Reeves: Plays new character Duke Caboom. He is a Canadian daredevil toy that sports a white outfit and mustache. He always has his toy motorcycle by his side.
Christina Hendricks: Plays Gabby Gabby, a 1950s pull-string doll with a broken voice box. She resides at the antique store and serves as an antagonist in the story.
Blake Clark: Plays Slinky Dog, a toy dog with a metal slinky for his body. Introduced in the first film, Slinky is a loyal friend to Woody.
Wallace Shawn: Plays Rex, a large green Tyrannosaurus rex that is easily excitable. He suffers from anxiety and often fears that he is not scary enough.
John Ratzenberger: Plays Hamm, a wisecracking pig that knows a lot about the outside world. He is best friends with Mr. Potato Head and the two often play board games together.
Don Rickles: Plays the loudmouth spud Mr. Potato Head. Although Rickles died in 2017 at the age of 90, his voice lives on as that of Mr. Potato Head in the fourth film, Cooley tweeted in March. Although Rickles signed on for Toy Story 4 in 2014, he hadn’t yet recorded his dialogue when he died, but THR reported it was possible that the legendary comedian’s voice could still be heard in the movie using previously recorded material from prior films.
Estelle Harris: Plays Mrs. Potato Head, the wife of Mr. Potato Head. Unlike her husband, she is sweet and patient.
Jodi Benson: Plays Barbie. She was introduced in the third film and was previously owned by Andy’s sister before the toys were accidentally donated to Sunnyside Daycare. Her love story with Ken was chronicled in Toy Story 3.
Michael Keaton: Plays Ken, a smooth-talking doll that falls in love with Barbie. He is known for his eclectic style.
Jeff Pidgeon: Plays the Aliens. The characters are green, three-eyed squeaky toy aliens. They have appeared in all of the Toy Story films.
Kristen Schaal: Plays Trixie, a blue toy Triceratops. She is best remembered for her online friendship with another dinosaur toy that lives down the street.
Bonnie Hunt: Plays Dolly, a dress-up rag doll that sports purple hair and googly eyes.
Timothy Dalton: Plays Mr. Pricklepants, who is a stuffed hedgehog. He views himself as a serious actor and takes the performing arts very seriously.
Jeff Garlin: Plays Buttercup, a stuffed white unicorn who has a pink nose and yellow mane. Despite his soft appearance, he is very gruff and sarcastic.
Laurie Metcalf: Plays Andy and Molly’s mother, Mrs. Davis. She is represented as a loving mother, though she has unintentionally put the toys in jeopardy multiple times.
Madeleine McGraw: Plays Bonnie, a child at Sunnyside Daycare and the new owner of Andy’s toys.
Lori Alan: Plays Mrs. Anderson, a receptionist at Sunnyside Daycare and Bonnie’s mother.
The fourth film in the franchise was announced in Nov. 2014 during an investors call. Then-chief creative officer at Disney and Pixar, John Lasseter, who directed the first two films and served as a producer on the third, was originally hired to direct the film. Rashida Jones and Will McCormack were hired to pen the screenplay, while Galyn Susman joined the project as a producer.
“We love these characters so much; they are like family to us,” Lasseter said in a statement at the time. “We don’t want to do anything with them unless it lives up to or surpasses what’s gone before. Toy Story 3 ended Woody and Buzz’s story with Andy so perfectly that for a long time, we never even talked about doing another Toy Story movie. But when [we] came up with this new idea, I just could not stop thinking about it. It was so exciting to me, I knew we had to make this movie — and I wanted to direct it myself.”
In 2015, Pixar president Jim Morris teased that the film would not be a continuation of the past Toy Story movies and would instead be a “love story.”
“It’s not a continuation of the end of Toy Story 3,” Morris said of Toy Story 4. “Temporarily it is, but it will be a love story. It will be a romantic comedy. The focus is not going to be placed on the interaction between the characters and children.”
He added, “The third film had ended in a very beautiful way and completed the trilogy. I think this film won’t be part of that trilogy. It’s a separate story, which I don’t know if it will have a sequel.”
Lasseter left Pixar and Disney at the end of 2018 after he was accused of misconduct and making unwanted advances. Meanwhile, Jones and McCormack left the project in 2017 due to creative and “philosophical differences.”
Stephany Folsom was tapped to write the script in Jan. 2018. Toy Story 4 is her first major writing credit, while she wrote the original screenplay 1969: A Space Odyssey of How Kubrick Learned to Stop Worrying and Land on the Moon in 2013.
Cooley, who was announced as the co-director on the film in 2015, now acts as the sole director of the project.
Toy Story 4 picks up with the toys years after the conclusion of the third film. After Andy gives his toys away to their new owner, Bonnie, Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang are forced to deal with the new makeshift toy Forky. When Bonnie and her family go on a road trip, Forky escapes and Woody goes off to save him. While separated from his friends, Woody learns the true meaning of being a toy when he meets other toys in a small town’s antique shop.
Toy Story 4 was originally intended to hit theaters in 2017, but it was pushed back to a June 21, 2019 release date.
The teaser trailer for the film was debuted in Nov. 2018. The clip introduced Forky to the group of friends. The toys all held hands as they made a circle. After Forky appeared in the circle, he declared, “I don’t belong here!” He then let go of Slinky Dog and Woody’s hands and ran out of the circle. The new toy’s interruption set off a chain reaction that forced the other toys to spin out of control.
Following the 2019 Super Bowl, Pixar and Disney released a 30-second ad that followed Woody and Bo Peep looking for Buzz at a carnival. When they are unable to find their friend, it is revealed that the toy astronaut was being used as a prize at a game booth.
In March, the first full-length trailer premiered on Good Morning America. The trailer opened with Woody introducing Forky to the group of toys. He explained that Forky “is the most important toy” to Bonnie, so they must protect the newcomer. After Forky escaped, Woody chased after the makeshift toy and explained the importance of being a toy to the reluctant Forky. Woody soon reunited with Bo Peep at the antique store, where he was exposed to a new world outside of Bonnie and Andy’s lives.
Another teaser clip was released in April. The clip shows Woody and the gang as they embark on a road trip to find Forky after the makeshift toy runs away.
The Toy Story franchise take place at a fictional location in the San Francisco Bay area, which is often referred to as the “Tri-tate area.” Much of the first two films take place in Andy’s home, while the third film takes place at Sunnyside Daycare.
Based on the film’s trailers, Toy Story 4 will begin in Bonnie’s world. The trailers also show the toys visiting a local antique shop and a carnival.
The Toy Story films have garnered nearly $2 billion worldwide, with Toy Story 3 earning the franchise $1.1 billion worldwide.
In addition to being box office successes, the previous films are also critically acclaimed. The first Toy Story was nominated for three Academy Awards in 1996, while Lasseter took home the honor for special achievement. The second film earned one nomination at the 2000 Academy Awards for Randy Newman’s song “When She Loved Me,” while the third film earned five nominations and took home the awards for best animated feature and best original song.
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