The Argument Against ‘Toy Story 5’

A Pixar franchise that started in 1995, has formed part of three generations and Brandon Bethune has more to say about what Toy Story 5 could mean…

Remember when Pixar said that they weren’t doing sequels anymore after ‘Toy Story 4’? Yeah, me neither.

When this announcement was made in 2019, it was extremely refreshing to see the studio go in a completely different direction to seemingly the rest of Disney.

(photo fetched from BBC Culture)

2019 also saw the introduction of Disney+ though, with the platform joining the already sequel-heavy streaming game to go along with its already heavy cinematic slate. At this point, we should’ve all been prepared for the sequel overload that was to come.

Marvel’s ridiculous slate across the big and small screen has spearheaded the current era of superhero fatigue, and the overabundance of Star Wars shows has done the same thing to a franchise that was once treasured for its measured longevity. The vast majority of the current sequel/prequel/sidequel/whateverquel is wholly redundant, and might as well not exist. Tell me, who really needs an ‘Agatha’ or ‘Vision’ series on Disney+? Seriously. 

But sequels = bad is hardly a hot take, and isn’t one I totally believe in, however there is something about their latest announcement of sequels that has got to me, big time.

During Disney’s 2023 Q1 Financial Results conference call, CEO Bob Iger announced three major upcoming animated sequels (alongside the loss of over 7,000 jobs but why would that be the focus).

The first was ‘Frozen 3’. Sure, whatever. Don’t hate it, could be gayer though. ‘Zootopia 2’ was next. Cool, I’m ready for the latest stream of furry porn that comes from this film to scar me for the rest of my life. 

And lastly, we had the announcement of ‘Toy Story 5’.

(photo fetched from The New York Times)

The first film is one of my all-time favorites, animated or not, and the follow-up’s ‘Toy Story 2’ and especially ‘Toy Story 3’ finished off the story of Woody, Buzz and co. in stunning, emotional fashion, as only Pixar can (could?).

‘Toy Story 3’ set the standard for how to end a trilogy in a time where franchises were one by one growing tired and tested in their unimaginative approach to sequels, and the film is beloved for that reason.

You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m thoroughly anti-sequel by reading the start of this piece, but I’m not. I’m against tarnishing perfect ending’s with unnecessary cash grabs. But this is The House of Mouse after all, what was I expecting.

Now I’m well aware of my hypocrisy here too, as I myself was a fan of ‘Toy Story 4’.

I understand what I just said about cash-grab sequels could very much be applied to that 2019 release, but I felt that film was more of an epilogue to the trilogy than a direct continuation of it.

The additional finale of Woody leaving the gang was a nice if unnecessary underline for the franchise, which while not for everybody, didn’t exactly harm the perfect ending that ‘Toy Story 3’ gave us in the first place.

Plus, being able to see ‘Toy Story 4’ as a 17-year old after first catching ‘Toy Story 3’ in cinemas aged 8 was a unique experience that I haven’t had with any other franchise, so I’m biased.

(photo fetched Disney Movies)

Yet maybe that was just me falling under Disney’s nostalgia sequel spell. This time though, I refuse to be seduced.

The extra layer of frustration that comes from this announcement too is that it does go against that aforementioned ‘no more sequels rule’.

It could be Pixar going back on their word, or more pressingly, Disney once again calling the team into action to make a film they don’t want to make.

Granted, Pixar’s original’s only approach hasn’t exactly been a blow away success, but the risk it took was worth backing regardless.

Similar to ‘Toy Story 4’, Pixar’s slate of original’s in the last three years have been divisive.

I can’t claim to have seen them all, but I thought ‘Onward’ was touching and ‘Soul’ was beautiful. ‘Turning Red’ has received great word of mouth too, but the decision to go all-original may have ultimately been too ambitious in the age of dying cinema, as evidenced by the seemingly unending streak of high-profile box-office failures at the moment.

Any of you see ‘Strange World’? Didn’t think so.

Disney gonna Disney at the end of the day though, and that means ‘Toy Story’ may unfortunately go the way of the rest of their beloved franchises in finally receiving aunnecessary, reputation altering sequel, ala ‘Cars 2’, ‘Cars 3’, ‘Finding Dory’, and ‘Incredibles 2’. Or did 2022’s ‘Lightyear’ already do that for ‘Toy Story’?

Also maybe the ‘Cars’ franchise was never beloved but you get the point.

Maybe I’m catastrophizing when it comes to the quality of ‘Toy Story 5’. As a fan of the fourth instalment, maybe they’ve earned the benefit of doubt and I should back Pixar dreaming something incredible up that will have me in near-tears once again in 2025. 

I can’t see an obvious try to tell with ‘Toy Story 5’ though. 3 was the end of Andy’s story, 4 was the end of Woody’s. At this point, what story can 5 possibly tell.

‘Toy Story’ was once held up as the standard bearer for animated sequels. A trilogy which actually ended, free of franchise fatigue. With ‘Toy Story 5’, it looks like my favorite animated franchise will end on another dud, to be remembered as such, for infinity and beyond.

Sorry, had to do it.

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