Last month marked 25 years since the premiere of Toy Story, the very first feature film released by Pixar Animation Studios. This epic film about a group of plucky toys embarking on adventures around the neighbourhood of their owner, led by Tom Hanks’ high-spirited character Woody, won the hearts of people all over the world with its captivating concept – that your toys come to life when you aren’t looking.
Toy Story – a cinema staple 🏆
Toy Story was nominated for three Academy Awards! The first animated film to be nominated for Best Screenplay did have a hard time in its early stages. The company Mattel was so sure that it would be a failure that they refused to let Toy Story feature a Barbie character that had been written in as Woody’s love interest (which was later adapted into Bo Peep).
As you might have noticed, when it turned out to be the highest-grossing film of 1995 by in-year release, they allowed Barbie to feature in Toy Story 2. Although it didn’t win any of the Academy Awards it was nominated for, it has still achieved so much – especially considering it was the world’s first entirely computer animated feature film.
The film is a marvel!✨
Toy Story is a masterpiece full of Easter Eggs! If you plan on rewatching the films soon, how about trying to spot these Easter eggs?
How many Easter Eggs can you spot?
- Early drawing of Woody (from when the film was being developed)
- Carpet modelled after the hotel in The Shining (favourite film of Lee Unkrich, one of the editors)
- Mickey Mouse
- John Lasseter (the film’s director)
- The street that Pixar Studios was on at the time
- The number of a classroom that many of the animators studied in (room A113 at the California Institute of Arts) – hidden in more than 20 Pixar films!
- Pizza Planet
It could have ended up being a totally different film…
The initial plan for the storyline didn’t have Woody as the protagonist – instead, it was going to be based around ‘Tin Toy’, the main character of a five-minute short film of the same name, made by John Lasseter for Pixar in 1988. The film follows a small toy of a one-man-band being chased around a room by a troublesome baby that terrorises its toys, and won Pixar its first Oscar – Best Animated Short Film. This toy was eventually considered too old-fashioned to be the main character, so Woody and Buzz Lightyear were created, for a more modern audience, combining two very popular genres – westerns and sci-fi. In the early stages of Woody’s character, he was very sarcastic and mean to the other toys, and they ended up having to pause production to rewrite the script and make him more likeable.
And so we ended up with the Woody and Buzz we know and love today, whose names satisfyingly combine into the portmanteau Buddy, reflecting the buddy movie genre of the film. The theme of friendship, which is relatable to any age, is intrinsically linked with this film, not only by way of the plot, but also because of the film’s signature song, ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me’ by Randy Newman, which was written in just one day, and has come to define Newman, now 76, to a younger generation of listeners.
The success is unmatched, even within Disney
If they were trying to set themselves apart from the traditional Disney film model, it worked. They left princess stories and talking animals behind and set it in almost-real life, telling the story of an ordinary family, exploring themes that are relatable to everyone and setting the film in the most relatable location of all – a childhood bedroom. Just 110 employees worked on the film, a number that is dwarfed by the 800 or so people who worked on Disney’s The Lion King the year before, and together those employees set the precedent for the 21 feature films that have come from Pixar since, and the many awards and accolades that followed. (I would make a joke here about how it’s taken them ‘to infinity and beyond’, but that’s too easy.) 🚀
Despite the fact that the main character of the film isn’t a child, but instead a kindly toy cowboy, Toy Story represents childhood for a lot of people, and the imagination that it took to make it, as well as the imagination that it inspires in young first-time viewers, is unfathomable. The impact of this film on the movie industry will be felt for a very long time, and as parents are still introducing their children to these lovable characters 25 years after its premiere, I think it’s safe to say that even as the years go by, the love for this film will never die
Will you be watching one of the Toy Story films over the holidays? 🎄 Let us know what you think of this article in the comments below…