Toy Story has become one of the most beloved film franchises in modern movie history. The story of toys that come to life when we're not looking has captured the hearts and imaginations of fans of every age and the brand new fourth installment in the series is no exception. These characters feel like family, but, that doesn't mean you know everything about them.
The Pixar movie process is unique in Hollywood. Story is almost never locked down until the movie itself is almost complete. Changes are normal and sometimes a movie can undergo massive alterations from its original concept before the studio really dials in on an idea that works. This also means that details get created that get lost and never end up becoming part of the final story.
The stories that these movies tell us have had an impact on generations, but the stories behind how the movies got made are just as interesting, maybe more so. Here are five interesting facts you might not know about Toy Story.
Woody's Last Name Is Pride
The entire Toy Story franchise is about the journey of one toy, Woody the cowboy. We watch Woody grow and learn over the course of four films. He learns a great deal over the course of these movies, but as far as we can tell, he never learns he has a last name. Woody's full name is actually Woody Pride.
This piece of information was revealed a few years back by Lee Unkrich, director of Toy Story 3. Apparently Woody's full name was created back when the first movie was being developed. Considering that Woody's sidekick Buzz Lightyear has a last name, it may be that as the two characters were being developed they were both given full names. In the end it was decided that Woody would just be Woody and the last name wouldn't be used.
Woody Was Originally An Evil Ventriloquist Dummy
As mentioned, Pixar movies often go through major changes from their original concepts, and Toy Story was no exception. The concept for the film was a previously created Pixar short film called Tin Toy which starred a tin one-man-band toy named Tinny. Tinny was originally going to be one of the two main characters of the film. The other was going to be a ventriloquist dummy named Woody.
This version of Woody was much more of a traditional bad guy, because ventriloquist dummies are naturally terrifying. As the story began to evolve, however, Woody's character became less evil and more simply a toy who was afraid of being replaced. As the character changed, the dummy design no longer worked and Woody evolved into the cowboy we know. As that happened, Tinny also changed, becoming Buzz Lightyear.
The ventriloquist dummies would eventually come back in Toy Story 4 as evil henchmen, because ventriloquist dummies are naturally terrifying.
Joss Whedon Co-Wrote The Original Toy Story
Writing Pixar movies is often a collaborative effort. It's not uncommon for several of Pixar's brain trust members to be credited as helping create the story or the screenplay for any given movie. This is certainly true for the original Toy Story, but in addition to names like Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter, the screenplay is also credited to outside writers, one of which is Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly creator Joss Whedon.
Whedon has said that while the basic structure of Toy Story was solid, when he came on board the script simply didn't work. Buzz and Woody were sarcastic and spiteful characters that audiences simply wouldn't be able to connect with. Whedon tried and failed to make Barbie a part of the story, that character would appear later. He is, however, credited with creating the dinosaur Rex, as well as coming up with the idea that Buzz Lightyear, being a new toy, doesn't realize that is a toy, and thus believes he actually is a Space Ranger.
Toy Story 2 Was Almost Completely Deleted
Following the success of the original Toy Story and subsequent Pixar movies, a sequel was put into development. The movie was originally going to be a direct-to-DVD release, but once everybody involved realized just how good the movie was becoming, a switch to a theatrical release was planned. However, for a brief, terrifying, moment, it seemed like no release of any kind was ever going to happen, because Toy Story 2 was deleted from the Pixar servers.
It was an errant line of code used to clear out server space that was accidentally used on the drive where the main copy of Toy Story 2 was being stored. While Pixar employees tried to stop it, before they could, 90% of the work that had been completed was gone. Pixar had backups, but the backup system failed to work properly, it looked like everything was gone.
The only reason Toy Story 2 wasn't gone forever was pure luck. One employee who was out on maternity leave had taken a copy of Toy Story 2 home so she could work on it while she was out. That file then became the only copy of the movie in existence. The laptop was recovered by Pixar like they were removing the Ark of the Covenant.
An easter egg in Toy Story 4 actually makes reference to this moment.
We Almost Didn't Get Any Toy Story Toys
It's hard to imagine any movie released by Disney not having a massive merchandising campaign to go along with it, but believe it or not, the movie about toys had trouble finding a toy company willing to make actual toys for people to buy.
It seems that most of the major toy manufacturers, including Disney's go-to partner, Mattel, were hesitant of this new idea regarding computer animation, and, as such, were unwilling to bet the farm on Toy Story. Mattel, instead, put their focus on Disney's traditionally animated The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Disney did eventually find a manufacturer for a Toy Story line, a small toy company based in Canada, Thinkway Toys. While Toy Story's massive success was a huge boon to the company, the problem was that the company wasn't big enough to handle the incredible demand. The first wave of Toy Story toys, especially Buzz Lightyear action figures, became incredibly hard to find that Christmas. Eventually, the other toy companies came around, and new products were quickly produced.
The story of Toy Story on the screen has been incredible. We've watched these characters grow, change, and evolve, as a generation that has grown up with them has done the same. However, the stories behind the movies are often just as enlightening.