Toy Story 4 will be going through a bit of a shakeup. Following the massive success of Toy Story 3, Pixar announced work on Toy Story 4 a few years later, with John Lasseter and Josh Cooley set to co-direct the latest entry Pixar's flagship franchise. However, Lasseter has now announced that he will be stepping down as director and Cooley will take over as the sole director of Toy Story 4.
The D23 Expo is currently underway in Anaheim, California, as Disney reveals all the latest news and projects coming out in the near future. During the big animation panel -- for which our own Conner Schwerdtfeger was present -- Pixar and Disney Animation Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter took the stage. After blasting everyone with a Hawaiian t-shirt cannon, Lasseter revealed the news that he was stepping down as director of Toy Story 4. Lasseter will remain as an executive producer, while Josh Cooley, formally the co-director of the film, will step up to direct. No explicit reason was given for the change, but Lasseter assured that he would be working closely with Cooley and his team. Cooley was also on stage with Lasseter at the time, and they introduced a video touring the Pixar offices and the team working on the movie.
Josh Cooley got his start at Pixar as an intern, where he first worked on the film Cars. He most recently worked as the head of story and a writer on Inside Out, which was a triumphant success upon its release. He also co-directed the Pixar short film Riley's First Date?, which featured Inside Out characters. Cooley was already working as the co-director of Toy Story 4, so the creative shift is not very extreme. It could just be that John Lasseter, who directed the first Toy Story, is taking a mentor role and is looking to raise up some new talent from within Pixar.
Pixar is hardly a stranger to drastically reworking their films. The animation studio is known for restarting certain projects from scratch in the middle of production. The Good Dinosaur may be the most recent example of this retooling, while Toy Story went through a similar process way back when. (Woody was going to be the bad guy, everyone!). So, this is sort of par for the course for Pixar, but hardly as extreme.
Not much is known about Toy Story 4, but it's been said to be a romantic comedy that would focus on the romance between Woody and Bo Peep. The story will be built around Bo Peep's disappearance from Toy Story 3, with Buzz and Woody venturing out to find her. Toy Story 4 has suffered a few big delays, with the release date getting pushed twice. Rashida Jones and Will McCormack wrote the screenplay.
Toy Story 4 is currently scheduled to release in theaters on June 21, 2019.