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Toy Story 4 was a movie that, before it came out, a lot of people were wondering why it was even happening, but after it did, most of those people were satisfied with the move they got. Having said that, it took a while for Toy Story 4 to make it to theaters as the movie went through some pretty significant changes, even by Pixar standards.
With the release of Toy Story 4 on Blu-ray, we've begun to see some of the ideas that ended up getting dropped. The opening of Toy Story 4 that we all saw opened with a flashback to a time between Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 that explained what happened to Bo Peep, but before the Pixar story team landed on that, they apparently had some other, quite different, ideas. According to Story Supervisor Valerie LaPointe...
For a long time, we thought about doing a playtime opening, like the way Toy Story 3 opened. And we had so many ideas on how to make that different. Bonnie putting herself into the playtime, or we had a version where it would start between Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3. That’s when we had the zombie musical idea. All these different versions and they were really fun, but ultimately, for the story, it didn’t quite deliver the satisfaction of this particular moment.
All three previous Toy Story movies open with some variation on a "playtime" scene. In the first movie we just see Andy playing with his toys. In Toy Story 2, we see experience a Buzz Lightyear video game, as played by Rex, from the inside. Then, in Toy Story 3, Andy is playing with all his toys in a train heist sequence that we see as if it's really happening.
At one point the plan was to do something similar with Toy Story 4. The storyboarded sequence of Bonnie's playtime is actually included as a deleted scene on the Toy Story 4 Blu-ray. It would have placed all the toys as characters in a supermarket, which is then set upon by bird monsters made from books. As Valerie LaPointe mentions, one thing about the scene that would have had it stand apart is that Bonnie would have inserted herself into the playtime, and she and Woody fight off the creatures together.
This idea clearly comes from a very different version of Toy Story 4, as Woody is in a prominent role within the playtime. In the movie we see, Woody has been sidelined, a decision which defines the character's entire arc in the movie. Clearly, this earlier movie was going someplace very different.
The "zombie musical" concept we see less of on the Blu-ray. but it's also a "playtime" sequence, just one that would have been Andy playing with his toys, perhaps in a way that would have led to Bo Peep's departure. Bo Peep is part of the playtime in the storyboards we see, so the scene would have taken place before she left. The scene also shows Bo fighting off the "zombie" toys with her shepherds crook, perhaps hinting toward the evolved Bo Peep we would see later in the film.
In all cases, story trumps all other considerations at Pixar, and so, in the end, the decision was the other ideas did not properly serve the story that ended up being told. Considering Toy Story 4 made $1 billion at the box office, it looks like it was probably the right call.
Toy Story 4 is available in Digital HD now and will hit 4K, DVD, and Blu-ray October 8.