John Lasseter will direct a fourth Toy Story film, Walt Disney Company chairman Bob Iger announced during an earnings call Thursday.
The toys-come-to-life family film will hit theaters June 16, 2017. Disney says it will open a new chapter in the lives of Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the Toy Story gang. The story was dreamt up by Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter and Lee Unkrich, the storytellers who have been the driving force behind all three Toy Story films.
“We love these characters so much; they are like family to us,” said Lasseter in a statement. “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 Andrew, Pete, Lee and I 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.”
Writing team Rashida Jones and Will McCormack (Celeste and Jesse Forever) joined the project, and Galyn Susman is producing.
Lasseter directed the first Toy Story in 1995, and returned to direct the second. He also directed A Bug’s Life, and currently holds the title of chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios. The winner of two Academy Awards, Lasseter currently oversees all Pixar and Disney films and associated projects.
The Toy Story trilogy has earned an enormous $1.94 billion worldwide. Toy Story 3, released in June 2010, earned a franchise high of $1.1 billion worldwide, and won two Academy Awards. It was the highest-grossing animated film of all time worldwide until Frozen surpassed it in March.
Disney’s upcoming animated films include Big Hero 6 (Nov. 7) and Pixar’s Inside Out (June 19, 2015) and The Good Dinosaur (Nov. 25, 2015).