The movie Toy Story is something that most people take a great deal of pleasure in watching. If you’ve never really seen the films, you might think of the franchise as nothing more than a kid’s movie because it’s animated, but it’s really much more than that. In fact, the Toy Story franchise as a whole includes three movies and perhaps even a fourth. The original was released back in 1995 and its sequel was released four years later in 1999. It was several years before Toy Story 3 came along, which was released in 2010. There’s also talk that Toy Story 4 will be released at some point next year. There’s certainly no doubt that this is a film franchise that has had a dramatic impact on the public as a whole. It is certainly not just an animated kids movie, not under any circumstances. In reality, there are a lot of things that make this franchise stand out when compared to other movies. Below are 20 things about this film franchise that might surprise you, especially if you’ve never seen the films or paid much attention to them to begin with.
1. The original Toy Story was the most popular movie on opening weekend
It’s actually rather rare that an animated movie beats out virtually everything else it’s competing against, but that’s exactly what happened on a November weekend in 1995. Even though Toy Story was considered a kid’s movie, it still did better than everything else that was at the box office during that time. In fact, it easily beat out other movies that were considered to be far more serious projects. In its opening weekend alone, the film grossed more than 350 million dollars.
2. It’s one of the few animated movies to receive critical acclaim
Again, it’s exceedingly rare for an animated film to receive any type of critical acclaim. Since animated films are usually reserved for kids, they just aren’t taken seriously as a whole. Therefore, most animated movies are put into a category all by themselves and it’s considered an honor to be among the best in that particular category. This movie was different from the start. It wasn’t considered the best in its category, but one of the best overall. Even though it was an animated kid’s movie, even movie critics loved it and gave it high praises, something that they don’t really do all that often for any type of movie. Without a doubt, it didn’t hurt that the movie incorporated the voices of stars like Tim Allen and Tom Hanks. Even though the movie was animated, this gave it a certain gravitas that these types of movies don’t typically have.
3. It has a special place in the National Film Registry
Movies are only inducted into the National Film Registry when they’re considered to be culturally important. Therefore, there aren’t that many of them they can be found in this registry, especially when you compare these movies to the number of films that are released each year. There’s also an exceedingly long waiting period, as no movie is eligible to be included in the National Film Registry until it has been in existence for at least 10 years. In 2005, ten years after the original Toy Story was released, it was inducted into the National Film Registry. This marks one of the few times that an animated movie has been given this honor.
4. The movie is a result of several brainstorming sessions
When they were trying to come up with the screenplay for the movie, directors and story writers often got together and had brainstorming sessions that were not unlike those people often have during their school years. The idea was to get several creative minds together and see who could come up with the best ideas, thereby allowing others in the group to feed off of those ideas so the story could grow. Obviously, this method of writing worked because the finished project is one that still stands out after all these years.
5. The movie’s most notable stars had never done an animated film before this one
There is no question that out of all the people who starred in the film, Tim Allen and Tom Hanks are the most recognizable names. The interesting thing about this is that neither of them had ever done an animated film before Toy Story. In fact, it took some convincing when it came to Tom Hanks. The individuals involved with the movie wanted him to do the voice-over part so badly that they actually took the character they wanted him to play and then dubbed his voice from a previous movie with that character, showing him the finished footage. This is what ultimately convinced him to accept the role.
6. The movie was in the works for several years
As early as 1993, two full years before the movie was released to audiences, it was almost scrapped entirely. Individuals at Pixar, the company that was responsible for its animation, had been working in conjunction with the people over at Disney in order to create this movie and at this point, they made the decision to show the portion of the movie that had been finished to executives. The reaction was so bad that it became known as the Black Friday Incident. The problem was that Disney had wanted the film to appeal to both children and adults and it asked specifically that the movie be punched up a little bit so that adults would be more interested in seeing it. This completely changed the context of all the characters, totally ruining the original story. In the end, Disney ordered that production be completely shut down but the film was given a second chance when one executive convinced everyone else that the film could be reworked if he were allowed to write the film the way he originally wanted to. They were given the green light but they had to fix it within two weeks and as you can see, they managed to do exactly that.
7. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards
It’s almost unheard of that an animated film would be nominated for even one Academy Award, let alone three. Even though the individuals involved with the film didn’t take home the awards in all these categories, it truly was an honor just to be nominated, especially considering that no one expected these type of accolades when they set out to make this movie.
8. The film got attention and some of the most unexpected ways
The characters involved in this movie had such an impact on people in the real world that they started to look at things in a completely different light. For example, individuals involved with the design and manufacture of robots that utilize Artificial Intelligence became interested in creating personalities for those robots based on the characters in the movie. This is undoubtedly one of the rarest ways that a film has ever impacted some other area of life in general, and it’s also one of the most interesting.
9. The movie revolutionized the entire industry
This was the first time that Disney and Pixar teamed up to work together and the results are nothing short of amazing. In fact, the end result was so impressive that the entire animated movie industry was revolutionized. In the end, Disney and Pixar would go on to work on many more projects together and virtually everyone else involved in the movie industry wanted to get their hands on the technology that Pixar used to create such a dramatic film that was animated, yet felt so real. As a direct result, this technology became something that was highly sought-after, even to the point of changing the way movies were made in general.
10. Both sequels were tremendous commercial successes
Although Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 did not receive the level of critical acclaim that the original movie did, they certainly weren’t considered failures by any means. Critics were gentle, even if they weren’t quite as enamored with the idea by the time these two sequels came along as they were when the original was released. As far as commercial success is concerned, both sequels did exceptionally well. By the time the sequels were released, people had fallen in love with idea of a Toy Story franchise and they were more than willing to go see these films, whether they performed at the level of the original or not.
11. The original movie featured babies’ names in the credits
This might sound a little strange, but Pixar made the decision to feature the names of all babies that were born during the time that the movie was in the works to those who were involved in the project and included those names in the credits. For whatever reason, this became a practice with the company and it is something that they have gone on to include in several other projects since that time.
12. Billy Crystal was offered a role in the film but turned it down
He was originally offered the role of Buzz Lightyear but he decided not to take it. He later went on to say that this was one of the biggest regrets that he ever had and that he had made a serious mistake when he chose not to take this role. After hearing about this, he was offered an important part in another Pixar movie, Monsters, Inc.
13. You might recognize the carpeting in the house throughout this movie
This is one of the more interesting things about the original Toy Story. The carpeting in the house was actually patterned after that which was used in the movie The Shining. In fact, the carpeting in the Toy Story House is an identical match to the carpet that was in the Overlook Hotel, the ominous facility that was featured in The Shining.
14. There’s a reference to another Tim Allen vehicle, Home Improvement
If you remember the scene where Woody ends up being trapped in a milk crate, you might remember that there is a tool box that sits on top of this crate. If you look closely, you can see that it is a Binford tool box. In real life, Binford doesn’t exist but it was the same type of tool company that Tim Allen worked for in his own sitcom, Home Improvement.
15. Toy Story 2 won a Golden Globe Award
The award was for Best Picture, something that only two other animated films have ever achieved. Obviously, this is a high honor for any movie, especially an animated one.
16. This movie marks one of Jim Varney’s last roles
He was the voice of Slinky, the dog in both the original Toy Story and in it’s equal. Unfortunately, he died only three months after the sequel was released because of cancer. This caused producers of the movie to go in search of someone to replace him for the upcoming Toy Story 3. They ultimately decided on a good friend of his, Blake Clark.
17. Some of the scenes appear in Toy Story 2 were actually scenes that were cut out of the original
If you think about Toy Story 2, you might remember scenes involving the Buzz Lightyear cartoon or the nightmare that Woody was having with the card game. Both of these were ideas that existed during the making of the original movie. However, for one reason or another, neither of the scenes made it past the cutting room floor. With that being said, they were considered to be solid enough that they weren’t scrapped entirely. That’s how they ended up being in the sequel.
18. Actor John Ratzenberger is a regular for Pixar
In the Toy Story franchise, he voices the character Hamm. The interesting thing about this is that he has been involved in every single project that Pixar has ever made. There isn’t a Pixar movie where he hasn’t provided a voiceover role in one capacity or another, making him the only actor with this particular honor.
19. In Toy Story 3, story writers watched prison movies to gain inspiration
This one probably has you scratching your head a little bit. However, you have to remember that the entire storyline of the third installment is for the toys to escape from the daycare facility. Screenwriters wanted it to be authentic, so they spent a lot of time watching a whole bunch of different movies about people escaping from prison in order to see what their characters should be doing while they were escaping from the daycare, which they themselves considered to be their own prison.
20. Tim Allen and Tom Hanks worked in the recording booth together for Toy Story 3
It’s extremely rare that individuals involved with animated projects actually work together. Instead, they usually work in a recording booth by themselves and the various parts are then pieced together by editors once all of the parts have been recorded. However, both Tim Allen and Tom Hanks felt like they could do a better job on the film if they worked together at the same time because it helped them build the chemistry of their characters. They had done this for a single day during the making of the original movie, and they loved the way things turned out for those particular scenes. When it came to the third installment, they virtually insisted on working together as opposed to recording their respective parts in solitude.
As you can see, this is a franchise that has a lot of interesting history behind it. There is no doubt that the Toy Story franchise completely transformed the way that animated movies are made. As such, it has served a pivotal role in movie making. However, it also serves much deeper role on a cultural level, something that many people have trouble putting into words. It speaks to individuals in a way that few movies manage to accomplish and it has maintained that same magic throughout all of its sequels. Hopefully, the fourth installment will be just as interesting as the previous three. With any luck, fans won’t have to wait that long to find out, as the movie is slated for release sometime in 2019.