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Toy Story

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Toy Story
The poster features Woody anxiously holding onto Buzz Lightyear as he flies into Andy's room. Below them sitting on the bed are Bo Peep, Mr. Potato Head, Troll, Hamm, Slinky, Sergeant, and Rex. In the lower right center of the image is the film's title. The background shows the cloud wallpaper featured in the bedroom.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Lasseter
Screenplay by
  • Joss Whedon
  • Andrew Stanton
  • Joel Cohen
  • Alec Sokolow
Story by
  • John Lasseter
  • Pete Docter
  • Andrew Stanton
  • Joe Ranft
Produced by
  • Bonnie Arnold
  • Ralph Guggenheim
  • Tom Hanks
  • Tim Allen
  • Don Rickles
  • Jim Varney
  • Wallace Shawn
  • John Ratzenberger
  • Annie Potts
  • John Morris
  • Erik von Detten
Edited by
  • Robert Gordon
  • Lee Unkrich
Music byRandy Newman
  • Walt Disney Pictures
  • Pixar Animation Studios
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release date
  • November 19, 1995 (1995-11-19) (El Capitan Theatre)
  • November 22, 1995 (1995-11-22) (United States)
Running time
81 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$30 million[2]
Box office$373 million[3]

Toy Story is a 1995 American computer-animated comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The first installment in the Toy Story franchise, it was the first entirely computer-animated feature film, as well as the first feature film from Pixar. The film was directed by John Lasseter (in his feature directorial debut), and written by Joss Whedon, Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen, and Alec Sokolow from a story by Lasseter, Stanton, Pete Docter, and Joe Ranft. The film features music by Randy Newman, was produced by Bonnie Arnold and Ralph Guggenheim, and was executive-produced by Steve Jobs and Edwin Catmull. The film features the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Jim Varney, Annie Potts, R. Lee Ermey, John Morris, Laurie Metcalf, and Erik von Detten. Taking place in a world where toys come to life when humans are not present, the plot focuses on the relationship between an old-fashioned pull-string cowboy doll named Woody and an astronaut action figure, Buzz Lightyear, as they evolve from rivals competing for the affections of their owner, Andy Davis, to friends who work together to be reunited with Andy after being separated from him.

Following the success of their 1988 short film Tin Toy, Pixar was approached by Disney to produce a computer-animated feature film told from a small toy's perspective. Lasseter, Stanton, and Docter wrote early story treatments, which were rejected by Disney, who wanted the film's tone to be "edgier". After several disastrous story reels, production was halted and the script was rewritten to better reflect the tone and theme Pixar desired: "toys deeply want children to play with them, and ... this desire drives their hopes, fears, and actions". The studio, then consisting of a relatively small number of employees, produced the film under only minor financial constraints.

Toy Story premiered at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles, California, on November 19, 1995, and was released in theaters in North America on November 22, 1995. It was the highest-grossing film during its opening weekend,[2] eventually grossing over $373 million worldwide, making it the second highest-grossing film of 1995. The film received critical acclaim, and holds a rare 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was praised for the technical innovation of the 3D animation, wit and thematic sophistication of the screenplay, musical score, and vocal performances (particularly Hanks and Allen); it is considered by many to be one of the best animated films ever made.[4] The film received three Academy Award nominations (Best Original Screenplay (the first animated film to be nominated for this award), Best Original Song for "You've Got a Friend in Me", and Best Original Score) as well as winning a Special Achievement Academy Award.[5] In 2005, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[6] The success of Toy Story launched a multimedia franchise and a series of three sequels, starting with Toy Story 2 (1999).


A group of living toys, who assume lifelessness around humans, are preparing to move into a new house with their owner Andy Davis, his sister Molly and their single mother. The toys become uneasy when Andy has his birthday party a week early; to calm them, Sheriff Woody, Andy's favorite toy and their leader, sends Sarge and his green army men to spy on the gift opening with a baby monitor. The other toys (which include Mr. Potato Head, Slinky Dog, Rex the tyrannosaur, Hamm the piggy bank, and Bo Peep the porcelain doll) are relieved when Andy receives nothing that could replace them. Andy then receives a last-minute surprise gift – a Buzz Lightyear action figure who believes he is a real space ranger. Buzz impresses the other toys with his various features and becomes Andy's new favorite, making Woody jealous.

The day before the move, Andy's family plans for a dinner at Pizza Planet, where Andy is allowed to bring along only one toy. To ensure Andy chooses him and not Buzz, Woody tries to use the radio-controlled car RC to knock Buzz behind the desk, but accidentally knocks him out a window instead. The other toys believe Woody deliberately tried to kill Buzz, but Andy arrives and takes Woody before they can exact retribution. A vengeful Buzz stows away in the car, and confronts Woody when the car stops at a gas station on the way to Pizza Planet. The two fight, fall out of the car, and are left behind.

After a further argument, the two hitch a ride on a Pizza Planet delivery truck and sneak into the restaurant. Buzz mistakes a claw crane full of Little Green Men for a rocket, and Woody climbs in after him. Andy's sadistic next-door neighbor Sid spots and captures the two and takes them to his house, where they encounter his Bull Terrier Scud and his much-abused "mutant" toys made from parts of other toys he has destroyed.

As Woody tries to find an escape route, Buzz is shocked by a TV commercial that reveals he is indeed a toy. In denial, he attempts to fly, but breaks his arm off and falls into despair. After Sid's toys fix Buzz, Sid returns and tapes Buzz to a large rocket, planning to destroy him the next morning. Woody helps Buzz realize that his purpose is making Andy happy, restoring Buzz's resolve. Sid takes Buzz out to launch him, but Woody rallies the mutant toys to frighten Sid into never harming toys again, freeing Buzz.

Woody and Buzz pursue Andy's moving truck, but Scud sees them and gives chase, biting Woody. Buzz fights off Scud, while Woody, freed, climbs into the truck and pushes RC out, using him to distract Scud and rescue Buzz. The other toys, thinking Woody is now trying to get rid of RC, toss Woody back into the street. Having escaped Scud, Buzz and Woody pursue the truck on RC, and the other toys spot them coming and realize their error. During the chase, RC's batteries run out, forcing Woody to ignite the rocket still strapped to Buzz. As they launch towards the truck, they become airborne, and Woody drops RC into the truck. Buzz opens his wings to sever the tape just before the rocket explodes; he and Woody glide over the truck and fall through the sunroof of Andy's car, landing safely beside Andy.

At Christmas, in the new house, Sarge and his men spy on the gift opening again while the other toys wait. Mr. Potato Head is delighted when Molly gets a Mrs. Potato Head, and Woody and Buzz jokingly ponder what gift could be "worse" than Buzz, only to nervously smile at each other when Andy gets a dachshund puppy.

Voice cast

Tom Hanks (left) and Tim Allen, the voices of Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear.
  • Tom Hanks as Woody, a pull-string cowboy doll who is Andy's favorite toy.
  • Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear, a space ranger action figure and Woody's rival, who later becomes his best friend.
  • Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head, a cynical potato-shaped doll with put-together pieces on his body.
  • Jim Varney as Slinky Dog, a dachshund slinky toy.
  • Wallace Shawn as Rex, a nervous green Tyrannosaurus figurine.
  • John Ratzenberger as Hamm, a smart-talking piggy bank.
  • Annie Potts as Bo Peep, a porcelain shepherdess doll and Woody's love interest.
  • John Morris as Andy Davis, The toy's owner.
  • Erik von Detten as Sid Phillips, Andy's next-door neighbor, who destroys toys for fun.
  • Laurie Metcalf as Mrs. Davis, Andy and Molly's mother.
  • R. Lee Ermey as Sergeant, the leader of a large troop of plastic green army men.
  • Sarah Freeman as Hannah Phillips, Sid's younger sister.
  • Penn Jillette as the Buzz Lightyear TV commercial announcer.


In the foreground is a paved street leading to the gate's entrance. A sign reading "PIXAR Animation Studios" sits on top of stone columns in front of the gate that leads to several buildings.
The entrance to Pixar's studio lot in Emeryville, California in 2007.


John Lasseter's first experience with computer animation was during his work as an animator at Walt Disney Feature Animation, when two of his friends showed him the light-cycle scene from Tron. It was an eye-opening experience that awakened Lasseter to the possibilities offered by the new medium of computer-generated animation.[7] Lasseter tried to pitch The Brave Little Toaster as a fully computer-animated film to Disney, but the idea was rejected and Lasseter was fired.[8] He then went on to work at Lucasfilm and in 1986, he became a founding member of Pixar. In 1986, Pixar was purchased by entrepreneur and Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs.[9] At Pixar, Lasseter created short, computer-animated films to show off the Pixar Image Computer's capabilities. In 1988, Lasseter produced the short film Tin Toy told from the perspective of a toy, referencing Lasseter's love of classic toys. It won the 1989 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, the first computer-generated film to do so.[10]

Tin Toy gained Disney's attention, and the new team at The Walt Disney Company—CEO Michael Eisner and chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg in the film division—began a quest to get Lasseter to come back.[10] Lasseter, grateful for Jobs' faith in him, felt compelled to stay with Pixar, telling co-founder Ed Catmull, "I can go to Disney and be a director, or I can stay here and make history."[10] Katzenberg realized he could not lure Lasseter back to Disney and therefore set plans into motion to ink a production deal with Pixar to produce a film. [10] Disney had always made all their movies in-house and refused to change this. But when Tim Burton, who used to work at Disney, wanted to buy back the rights to The Nightmare Before Christmas, Disney struck a deal allowing him to make it as a Disney film outside the studio. This opened the door for Pixar to make their movies outside Disney.[11]

Both sides were willing. Catmull and fellow Pixar co-founder Alvy Ray Smith had long wanted to produce a computer-animated feature, but only by the early 1990s were the computers cheap and powerful enough to make this possible.[12][13] In addition, Disney had licensed Pixar's Computer Animation Production System (CAPS), and that made it the largest customer for Pixar's computers.[14] Jobs made it apparent to Katzenberg that although Disney was happy with Pixar, it was not the other way around: "We want to do a film with you," said Jobs. "That would make us happy."[14] At this same time, Peter Schneider, president of Walt Disney Feature Animation, was potentially interested in making a feature film with Pixar.[12] When Catmull, Smith, and head of animation Ralph Guggenheim met with Schneider in the summer of 1990, they found the atmosphere to be puzzling and contentious. They later learned that Katzenberg intended that if Disney were to make a film with Pixar, it would be outside Schneider's purview, which aggravated Schneider.[15] After that first meeting, the Pixar contingent went home with low expectations and was surprised when Katzenberg called for another conference. Catmull, Smith, and Guggenheim were joined by Bill Reeves (head of animation research and development), Jobs, and Lasseter. They brought with them an idea for a half-hour television special called A Tin Toy Christmas. They reasoned that a television program would be a sensible way to gain experience before tackling a feature film. [16]

They met with Katzenberg at a conference table in the Team Disney building at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank.[16] Catmull and Smith considered it would be difficult to keep Katzenberg interested in working with the company over time. They considered it even more difficult to sell Lasseter and the junior animators on the idea of working with Disney, which had a bad reputation for how they treated their animators, and Katzenberg, who had built a reputation as a micromanaging tyrant.[16] Katzenberg asserted this himself in the meeting: "Everybody thinks I'm a tyrant. I am a tyrant. But I'm usually right."[14] He threw out the idea of a half-hour special and eyed Lasseter as the key talent in the room: "John since you won't come work for me, I'm going to make it work this way."[14][16] He invited the six visitors to mingle with the animators—"ask them anything at all"—and the men did so, finding they all backed up Katzenberg's statements. Lasseter felt he would be able to work with Disney and the two companies began negotiations.[17] Pixar at this time was on the verge of bankruptcy and needed a deal with Disney.[14] Katzenberg insisted that Disney be given the rights to Pixar's proprietary technology for making 3-D animation, but Jobs refused.[17] In another case, Jobs demanded Pixar would have part ownership of the film and its characters, sharing control of both video rights and sequels, but Katzenberg refused.[14] Disney and Pixar reached an accord on contract terms in an agreement dated May 3, 1991, and signed on in early July.[18] Eventually, the deal specified that Disney would own the picture and its characters outright, have creative control, and pay Pixar about 12.5% of the ticket revenues.[19][20] It had the option (but not the obligation) to do Pixar's next two films and the right to make (with or without Pixar) sequels using the characters in the film. Disney could also kill the film at any time with only a small penalty. These early negotiations became a point of contention between Jobs and Eisner for many years.[14]

An agreement to produce a feature film based on Tin Toy with a working title of Toy Story was finalized and production began soon thereafter.[21]


The original treatment for Toy Story, drafted by Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Pete Docter, had little in common with the eventually finished film.[22] It paired Tinny, the one-man band from Tin Toy, with Woody, a ventriloquist's dummy, and sent them on a sprawling odyssey. Under Katzenberg, Woody was the main villain, abusing the other toys until they rallied against him; after Disney executives saw the storyboards, they relinquished creative control to Pixar.[23] The core idea of Toy Story was present from the first treatment onward: that "toys deeply want children to play with them, and that this desire drives their hopes, fears, and actions."[22] Katzenberg felt the original treatment was problematic and told Lasseter to reshape Toy Story as more of an odd-couple buddy picture, and suggested they watch some classic buddy films, such as The Defiant Ones and 48 Hrs., in which two characters with different attitudes are thrown together and have to bond.[24][25] Lasseter, Stanton, and Docter emerged in early September 1991 with the second treatment, and although the lead characters were still Tinny and the dummy, the outline of the final film was beginning to take shape. [24]

The script went through many changes before the final version. Lasseter decided Tinny was "too antiquated"; the character was first changed to a military action figure and then given a space theme. Tinny's name changed to Lunar Larry, then Tempus from Morph, and eventually Buzz Lightyear (after astronaut Buzz Aldrin).[26] Lightyear's design was modeled on the suits worn by Apollo astronauts as well as G.I. Joe action figures. Also, the green and purple color scheme on Lightyear's suit was inspired by Lasseter and his wife, Nancy, whose favorite colors are green and purple, respectively.[27][28] Woody was inspired by a Casper the Friendly Ghost doll that Lasseter had when he was a child; he was a ventriloquist's dummy with a pull-string (hence the name Woody). This was until character designer Bud Luckey suggested that Woody could be changed to a cowboy ventriloquist dummy. Lasseter liked the contrast between the Western and the science fiction genres and the character immediately changed. Eventually, all the ventriloquist dummy aspects of the character were deleted as the dummy looked "sneaky and mean".[29] However they kept the name Woody to pay homage to the Western actor Woody Strode.[26] The story department drew inspiration from films such as Midnight Run and The Odd Couple,[30] and Lasseter screened Hayao Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky for further influence.

Toy Story's script was strongly influenced by the ideas of screenwriter Robert McKee. The members of Pixar's story team—Lasseter, Stanton, Docter, and Joe Ranft—were aware that most of them were beginners at feature-film writing. None of them had any feature story or writing credits to their name besides Ranft, who had taught a story class at CalArts and done some storyboard work.[29] Seeking insight, Lasseter and Docter attended a three-day seminar in Los Angeles given by McKee. His principles, grounded in Aristotle's Poetics, dictated that a character emerges most realistically and compellingly from the choices that the protagonist makes in reaction to his problems.[31] Disney also appointed the duo Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow and, later, Joss Whedon to help develop the script. Whedon found that the script wasn't working but had a great structure. He added the character of Rex and sought a pivotal role for a Barbie doll; the latter transformed into Bo Peep as Mattel would not license the character.[32] Whedon also re-visioned Buzz Lightyear from being a dim-witted but cheerful and self-aware character to an action figure who isn't aware that he's a toy—an epiphany that transformed the film.[33] The story team continued to touch up the script as production was underway. Among the late additions was the encounter between Buzz and Squeeze Toy Aliens at Pizza Planet, which emerged from a brainstorming session with a dozen directors, story artists, and animators from Disney.[34]


Katzenberg approved the script on January 19, 1993, at which point voice casting could begin.[35]

Paul Newman, who subsequently accepted the role of Doc Hudson in another Pixar film, Cars, was considered for the role of Woody.[36] Robin Williams and Clint Eastwood were also considered for the role.[37] Lasseter always wanted Tom Hanks to play the character of Woody. Lasseter claimed that Hanks "has the ability to take emotions and make them appealing. Even if the character, like the one in A League of Their Own, is down-and-out and despicable."[35] To gauge how an actor's voice might fit with a character, Lasseter borrowed a common Disney technique: animate a vocal monologue from a well-established actor to meld the actor's voice with the appearance or actions of the animated character.[32] This early test footage, using Hanks' voice from Turner & Hooch, convinced Hanks to sign on to the film.[35][38]

Billy Crystal was approached to play Buzz, and was given his own monolog, utilizing dialogue from When Harry Met Sally. However, he turned down the role, believing the film would be unsuccessful due to its animation. Crystal regretted this upon seeing the film; he subsequently accepted the role of Mike Wazowski in another Pixar film, Monsters, Inc.. In addition to Crystal, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and Jim Carrey, along with a number of other actors, were also considered for the role of Buzz.[39][40][41][42][43][44][45] Lasseter took the role to Tim Allen, who was appearing in Disney's Home Improvement, and he accepted.[46] Crystal later stated in an interview that he would not have been right as Buzz, and that Allen was "fantastic" in the role.[47][48] Before Wallace Shawn and Jim Varney were cast as Rex and Slinky Dog, Rick Moranis and John Cleese were originally considered for the role.[37]

To cast Andy, Pixar held an open call for young male actors to bring a toy with them. Morris brought multiple toys, specifically 45 X-Men figures, contrary to the instructions of bringing just one, and Pixar re-acted to his dumping of the toys with laughter.[49]

Toy Story was both Hanks's and Allen's first animated film, and they recorded their lines together to make their characters' chemistry and interactions realistic.[50]

Production shutdown

Every couple of weeks, Lasseter and his team showed Disney their latest storyboards or footage. Pixar impressed Disney with its technical innovation, but convincing Disney of the plot was more difficult. At each of Pixar's presentations, Katzenberg tore much of it up, giving out detailed comments and notes. Katzenberg wanted primarily to add "more edginess" to the two main characters.[25] Disney wanted the film to appeal to both children and adults, and they asked for adult references to be added to the film.[35] After many rounds of notes from Katzenberg and other Disney executives, the consensus was that Woody had been stripped of almost all charm.[25][46] Hanks, while recording the dialogue for the story reels, exclaimed at one point that the character was a jerk.[25] Lasseter and his Pixar team had the first half of the film ready to screen, so they brought it down to Burbank to show to Katzenberg and other Disney executives on November 19, 1993—an event they later dubbed the "Black Friday Incident".[35][51] The results were disastrous. Schneider—who, due to his inability to secure a deal with Pixar, was never particularly enamored of Katzenberg's idea of having outsiders make animation for Disney—declared it a mess and ordered that production be stopped immediately.[52] Katzenberg asked colleague Thomas Schumacher why the reels were bad. Schumacher replied bluntly, "Because it's not their movie anymore; it's completely not the movie that John set out to make."[51]

Lasseter was embarrassed by what was on the screen, later recalling, "It was a story filled with the most unhappy, mean characters that I've ever seen." He asked Disney for two weeks to rework the script, and Katzenberg was supportive.[51] Lasseter, Stanton, Docter, and Ranft delivered the news of the production shutdown to the production crew, many of whom had left other jobs to work on the project. The crew shifted to television commercials while the head writers worked out a new script. Although Lasseter attempted to keep morale high by remaining outwardly buoyant, the production shutdown was "a very scary time", recalled story department manager BZ Petroff.[53] Katzenberg put the film under the wing of Walt Disney Feature Animation. The Pixar team was pleased that the move would give them an open door to counseling from Disney's animation veterans. However, Schneider, who had wanted to shut down production altogether and fire all recently hired animators,[54] continued to take a dim view of the project and went over Katzenberg's head to urge Eisner to cancel it.[24] Stanton retreated into a small, dark, windowless office, emerging periodically with new script pages. He and the other story artists then drew the shots on storyboards. Whedon came back to Pixar for part of the shutdown to help with the revision, and the script was revised in two weeks as promised.[53] When Katzenberg and Schneider halted production on Toy Story, Jobs funded the project personally. Jobs did not insert himself into the creative process, but instead managed the relationship with Disney. [51]

The Pixar team came back with a new script three months later, with the character of Woody altered from being the tyrannical boss of Andy's toys to being their wise and caring leader. It also included a more adult-oriented staff meeting amongst the toys rather than the juvenile group discussion that had existed in earlier drafts. Buzz Lightyear's character was also changed "to make it more clear to the audience that he really doesn't realize he's a toy".[54] Katzenberg and Schneider approved the new approach and, by February 1994, the film was back in production.[51] The voice actors returned one month later to record their new lines.[35] When production was greenlit, the crew quickly grew from its original size of 24 to 110, including 27 animators, 22 technical directors, and 61 other artists and engineers.[55][56] In comparison, The Lion King, released in 1994, required a budget of $45 million and a staff of 800.[55] In the early budgeting process, Jobs was eager to produce the film as efficiently as possible, impressing Katzenberg with his focus on cost-cutting. Despite this, the $17  million production budget proved inadequate, especially given the major revision that was necessary after Katzenberg had pushed them to make Woody too edgy. Jobs demanded more funds to complete the film and insisted that Disney was liable for the cost overruns. Katzenberg was reluctant, but Catmull was able to reach a compromise. [51]


We couldn't have made this movie in traditional animation. This is a story that can only really be told with three-dimensional toy characters. ... Some of the shots in this film are so beautiful.

—Tom Schumacher, Vice President of Walt Disney Feature Animation[57]

Recruiting animators for Toy Story was brisk; the magnet for talent was not mediocre pay but the allure of taking part in the first computer-animated feature.[56] Lasseter said of the challenges of computer animation, "We had to make things look more organic. Every leaf and blade of grass had to be created. We had to give the world a sense of history. So the doors are banged up, the floors have scuffs."[35] The film began with animated storyboards to guide the animators in developing the characters. 27 animators worked on the film, using 400 computer models to animate the characters. Each character was first either created out of clay or modeled from a computer-drawn diagram before reaching the computer-animated design.[58] Once the animators had a model, its articulation and motion controls were coded; this allowed each character to move in a variety of ways, such as talking, walking, or jumping.[58] Out of all the characters, Woody was the most complex, as he required 723 motion controls, including 212 for his face and 58 for his mouth.[35][59] The first piece of animation, a 30-second test, was delivered to Disney in June 1992, when the company requested a sample of what the film would look like. Lasseter wanted to impress Disney with several things in the test that could not be done in traditional, hand-drawn animation, such as Woody's yellow plaid shirt with red stripes, the reflections in Buzz's helmet and the decals on his spacesuit, or Venetian blind shadows falling across Andy's room.[29]

Every shot in the film passed through the hands of eight different teams. The art department gave each shot its color scheme and general lighting.[60] Under Craig Good, the layout department then placed the models in the shot, framed it by setting the location of the virtual camera, and programmed any camera movement. To make the medium feel as familiar as possible, they sought to stay within the limits of what might be done in a live-action film with real cameras, dollies, tripods, and cranes.[60] Headed by directing animators Rich Quade and Ash Brannon, each shot went from Layout to the animation department. Lasseter opted against Disney's approach of assigning an animator to work on a character throughout a film, but made certain exceptions in scenes where he thought the acting was particularly critical.[60] The animators used the Menu program to set each character in the desired pose. Once a sequence of hand-built poses (or "keyframes") was created, the software built poses for the frames in-between.[61] The animators studied videotapes of the actors as Lasseter rejected automatic lip-syncing.[61] To sync the characters' mouths and facial expressions to the actors' recorded voices, animators spent a week per eight seconds of animation.[58]

Afterward, the animators compiled the scenes and developed a new storyboard with computer-animated characters. They then added shading, lighting, visual effects, and finally used 300 computer processors to render the film to its final design.[58][59] Under Tom Porter, the shading team used RenderMan's shader language to create shader programs for each of a model's surfaces. A few surfaces in Toy Story came from real objects: a shader for the curtain fabric in Andy's room used a scan of actual cloth.[62] Under Galyn Susman and Sharon Calahan, the lighting team orchestrated the final lighting of the shot after animation and shading. Each completed shot then went into rendering on a "render farm" of 117 Sun Microsystems computers that ran 24 hours a day.[34] Finished animation was produced at a rate of around three minutes a week.[63] Depending on its complexity, each frame took from 45 minutes up to 30 hours to render. The film required 800,000 machine hours and 114,240 frames of animation in total.[35][58][64] There are over 77 minutes of animation spread across 1,561 shots.[60] A camera team, aided by David DiFrancesco, recorded the frames onto film stock. To fit a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Toy Story was rendered at 1,536 by 922 pixels, with each of them corresponding to roughly a quarter-inch of screen area on a typical cinema screen.[34] During post-production, the film was sent to Skywalker Sound, where the sound effects were mixed with the music score.[59]


Disney was concerned with Lasseter's position on the use of music. Unlike other Disney films of the time, Lasseter did not want the film to be a musical, saying it is a buddy film featuring "real toys". Whedon later revealed his agreement, saying, "It would have been a really bad musical because it's a buddy movie. It's about people who won't admit what they want, much less sing about it. ... Buddy movies are about sublimating, punching an arm, 'I hate you.' It's not about open emotion."[35] However, Disney favored the musical format, claiming, "Musicals are our orientation. Characters breaking into song is a great shorthand. It takes some of the onus off what they're asking for."[35] Eventually, Disney and Pixar reached a compromise: the characters in Toy Story would not break into song, but the film would use non-diegetic songs over the action, as in The Graduate, to convey and amplify the emotions that Buzz and Woody were feeling.[32] Disney and Lasseter, then, tapped Randy Newman to compose the soundtrack.

On Newman, Lasseter said, "His songs are touching, witty, and satirical, and he would deliver the emotional underpinning for every scene."[35] Newman wrote three original songs for the film, developing the film's signature song "You've Got a Friend in Me" in one day.[35] The soundtrack for Toy Story was produced by Walt Disney Records and was released on November 22, 1995, the week of the film's release. The edited Toy Story is said to be due to Newman and Gary Rydstrom in late September 1995 for their final work on the score and sound design, respectively.[65]

Editing and pre-release

It was difficult for crew members to perceive the film's quality during much of the production process when the finished footage was in scattered pieces and lacked elements like music and sound design.[63] Some animators felt the film would be a significant disappointment commercially but felt animators and animation fans would find it interesting.[63] According to Lee Unkrich, one of the editors of Toy Story, a scene cut out of the original final edit featured Sid torturing Buzz and Woody violently at his house; Unkrich decided to cut right into the scene where Sid is interrogating Woody because the film's creators thought the audience would love Buzz and Woody by that point.[66] Another scene, in which Woody tried to get Buzz's attention when he was stuck in the box crate, was shortened because the creators felt it would lose the energy of the film.[66] Schneider had grown optimistic about the film as it neared completion, and he announced a United States release date of November, coinciding with Thanksgiving weekend and the start of the winter holiday season.[67]

Sources indicate that Jobs lacked confidence in the film during its production, and he had been talking to various companies, ranging from Hallmark Cards to Microsoft, about selling Pixar.[51][67] However, as the film progressed, Jobs, like Schneider, became increasingly excited about it, feeling that he might be on the verge of transforming the film industry.[51] As scenes from the film were finished, he watched them repeatedly and had friends come by his home to share his new passion. Jobs decided that the release of Toy Story that November would be the occasion to take Pixar public.[51] A test audience near Anaheim in late July 1995 indicated the need for last-minute tweaks, which added further pressure to the already frenetic final weeks. Response cards from the audience were encouraging, but were not top of the scale, adding further questions as to how audiences would respond.[65] Eisner, who attended the screening, told Lasseter afterward that the film needed to end with a shot of Woody and Buzz together. Therefore, the film ends with a shot of Andy's house and the sound of a new puppy; the scene zooms in on the pair, showing their worried faces.[65]


Exterior shot of the El Capitan Theatre.
The El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles, where Toy Story's premiere took place on November 19, 1995.

There were two premieres of Toy Story in November 1995. Disney organized one at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles and built a funhouse featuring the characters, Totally Toy Story, next door.[68] Jobs did not attend; he instead rented the Regency, a similar theater in San Francisco, and held his own premiere the next night—at which, instead of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, the guests were Silicon Valley celebrities such as Larry Ellison and Andy Grove. The dueling premieres highlighted an issue between the companies: whether Toy Story was a Disney or a Pixar film.[69] "The audience appeared to be captivated by the film," wrote David Price in his 2008 book The Pixar Touch. "Adult-voiced sobs could be heard during the quiet moments after Buzz Lightyear fell and lay broken on the stairway landing."[70] Toy Story opened on 2,281 screens in the United States on November 22, 1995 (before later expanding to 2,574 screens).[70] It was paired alongside a reissue of a Roger Rabbit short called Roller Coaster Rabbit, while select prints contained The Adventures of André and Wally B..

The film was also shown at the Berlin International Film Festival out of competition from February 15 to 26, 1996.[71][72] Elsewhere, the film opened in March 1996.[67]


Marketing for the film included $20 million spent by Disney for advertising as well as advertisers such as Burger King, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and Payless ShoeSource paying $125 million in promotions for the film.[73] Marketing consultant Al Ries reflected on the promotion: "This will be a killer deal. How can a kid, sitting through a one-and-a-half-hour movie with an army of recognizable toy characters, not want to own one?"[74] Despite this, Disney Consumer Products was slow to see the potential of Toy Story.[67] When the Thanksgiving release date was announced in January 1995, many toy companies were accustomed to having eighteen months to two years of lead time and passed on the project. In February 1995, Disney took the idea to Toy Fair, a toy industry trade show in New York. There, a Toronto-based company with a factory based in China, Thinkway Toys, became interested. Although Thinkway was a small player in the industry, mainly producing toy banks in the form of film characters, it acquired the worldwide master license for Toy Story toys simply because no one else wanted it.[75] Walt Disney Home Video put a trailer for the film on seven million copies of the VHS re-release of Cinderella; the Disney Channel ran a television special on the making of Toy Story; Walt Disney World in Florida held a daily Toy Story parade at Disney-MGM Studios.[65]

It was screenwriter Joss Whedon's idea to incorporate Barbie as a character who could rescue Woody and Buzz in the film's final act.[76] The idea was dropped after Mattel objected and refused to license the toy. Producer Ralph Guggenheim claimed that Mattel did not allow the use of the toy as "They [Mattel] philosophically felt girls who play with Barbie dolls are projecting their personalities onto the doll. If you give the doll a voice and animate it, you're creating a persona for it that might not be every little girl's dream and desire."[35] Hasbro likewise refused to license G.I. Joe (mainly because Sid was going to blow one up, prompting the filmmakers to instead use a fictional toy, Combat Carl), but they did license Mr. Potato Head.[35] The only toy in the movie that was not in production was Slinky Dog, which had been discontinued since the 1970s. When designs for Slinky were sent to Betty James (Richard James's wife) she said that Pixar had improved the toy and that it was "cuter" than the original.[77]

3-D re-release

On October 2, 2009, the film was re-released in Disney Digital 3-D.[78] The film was also released with Toy Story 2 as a double feature for a two-week run[79] which was extended due to its success.[80] In addition, the film's second sequel, Toy Story 3, was also released in the 3-D format.[78] Lasseter commented on the new 3-D re-release:

The Toy Story films and characters will always hold a very special place in our hearts and we're so excited to be bringing this landmark film back for audiences to enjoy in a whole new way thanks to the latest in 3-D technology. With Toy Story 3 shaping up to be another great adventure for Buzz, Woody, and the gang from Andy's room, we thought it would be great to let audiences experience the first two films all over again and in a brand new way.[81]

Translating the film into 3-D involved revisiting the original computer data and virtually placing a second camera into each scene, creating left eye and right eye views needed to achieve the perception of depth.[82] Unique to computer animation, Lasseter referred to this process as "digital archaeology".[82] The process took four months, as well as an additional six months for the two films to add the 3-D. The lead stereographer Bob Whitehill oversaw this process and sought to achieve an effect that affected the emotional storytelling of the film:

When I would look at the films as a whole, I would search for story reasons to use 3-D in different ways. In Toy Story, for instance, when the toys were alone in their world, I wanted it to feel consistent with a safer world. And when they went out to the human world, that's when I really blew out the 3-D to make it feel dangerous and deep and overwhelming.[82]

Unlike other countries, the United Kingdom received the films in 3-D as separate releases. Toy Story was released on October 2, 2009. Toy Story 2 was instead released January 22, 2010.[83] The re-release performed well at the box office, opening with $12,500,000 in its opening weekend, placing at the third position after Zombieland and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.[84] The double feature grossed $30.7 million in its five-week release.[84]

Home media

Toy Story was released by Walt Disney Home Video on VHS and LaserDisc on October 29, 1996, with no bonus material. In the first week of this release, VHS rentals totaled $5.1 million, debuting Toy Story as the week's No. 1 video.[85] Over 21.5 million VHS copies were sold the first year.[86] A deluxe edition widescreen LaserDisc 4-disc box set was released on December 18, 1996. On January 11, 2000, the film was re-released on VHS, but this time as the first video to be part of the Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection with the bonus short film Tin Toy. This release sold two million copies.[86]

The film was released for the first time on DVD on October 17, 2000, in a two-pack with its first sequel Toy Story 2. The same day, a 3-disc "Ultimate Toy Box" set was released, featuring Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and the third disc of bonus materials.[86] The twin-pack release was later released individually on March 20, 2001. The DVD two-pack, the Ultimate Toy Box set, the Gold Classic Collection VHS and DVD, and the original DVD were all put in the Disney Vault on May 1, 2003. On September 6, 2005, a 2-disc "10th Anniversary Edition" was released featuring much of the bonus material from the "Ultimate Toy Box", including a retrospective special with John Lasseter and a brand new DTS sound mix.[87] This DVD went back in the Disney Vault on January 31, 2009, along with Toy Story 2. The 10th Anniversary release was the last version of Toy Story to be released before being taken out of the Disney Vault lineup along with Toy Story 2. Also on September 6, 2005, a UMD of Toy Story featuring some deleted scenes, a filmmakers' reflect, and a new "Legacy of Toy Story" was released for Sony PlayStation Portable.

The film was available for the first time on Blu-ray in a Special Edition Combo Pack that included two discs, the Blu-ray, and the DVD versions of the film. This combo-edition was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on March 23, 2010, along with its sequel.[88] There was a DVD-only re-release on May 11, 2010.[89] Another "Ultimate Toy Box", packaging the Combo Pack with those of both sequels, became available on November 2, 2010. On November 1, 2011, the first three Toy Story films were re-released all together, each as a DVD/Blu-ray/Blu-ray 3D/Digital Copy combo pack (four discs each for the first two films, and five for the third film). They were also released on Blu-ray 3D in a complete trilogy box set. Toy Story was released on 4K ULTRA HD Blu-ray on June 4, 2019.[90]


Yes, we worry about what the critics say. Yes, we worry about what the opening box office is going to be. Yes, we worry about what the final box office is going to be. But really, the whole point of why we do what we do is to entertain our audiences. The greatest joy I get as a filmmaker is to slip into an audience for one of our movies anonymously and watch people watch our film. Because people are 100 percent honest when they're watching a movie. And to see the joy on people's faces, to see people really get into our films... to me is the greatest reward I could get.

—John Lasseter, reflecting on the impact of the film[91]

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 100% based on 90 reviews, with an average rating of 9.02/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Entertaining as it is innovative, Toy Story reinvigorated animation while heralding the arrival of Pixar as a family-friendly force to be reckoned with."[92] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 95 out of 100, based on 26 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[93] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[94]

Particular praise was offered for the film's 3D animation. Leonard Klady of Variety commended its "razzle-dazzle technique and unusual look" and said that "the camera loops and zooms in a dizzying fashion that fairly takes one's breath away."[95] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times compared the animation to Disney's Who Framed Roger Rabbit, saying that "both movies take apart the universe of cinematic visuals and put it back together again, allowing us to see in a new way."[96] Due to the film's creative animation, Richard Corliss of TIME claimed that it was "the year's most inventive comedy".[97]

The voice cast was also praised by various critics. Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today approved of the selection of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen for the lead roles.[98] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times stated that "Starting with Tom Hanks, who brings an invaluable heft and believability to Woody, Toy Story is one of the best voiced animated features in memory, with all the actors ... making their presences strongly felt."[99]

Several critics also recognized the film's ability to appeal to various age groups.[96][100] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly wrote "It has the purity, the ecstatic freedom of imagination, that's the hallmark of the greatest children's films. It also has the kind of spring-loaded allusive prankishness that, at times, will tickle adults even more than it does kids."[101]

In 1995, Toy Story was ranked eighth in TIME's list of the "Best 10 films of 1995".[102] In 2011, TIME named it one of the "25 All-TIME Best Animated Films".[103] It also ranks at number 99 in Empire magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Films of All Time" and as the "highest-ranked animated movie".[104]

In 2003, the Online Film Critics Society ranked the film as the greatest animated film of all time.[105] In 2007, the Visual Effects Society named the film 22nd in its list of the "Top 50 Most Influential Visual Effects Films of All Time".[106] The film is ranked 99th on the AFI's list of the "100 greatest American Films of All-Time".[107][108][109] It was one of the only two animated films on that list, the other being Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). It was also the sixth best in the animation genre on AFI's 10 Top 10.

In more recent years, director Terry Gilliam has praised the film as "a work of genius. It got people to understand what toys are about. They're true to their own character. And that's just brilliant. It's got a shot that's always stuck with me when Buzz Lightyear discovers he's a toy. He's sitting on this landing at the top of the staircase and the camera pulls back and he's this tiny little figure. He was this guy with a massive ego two seconds before... and it's stunning. I'd put that as one of my top ten films, period."[110]

Box office

Before the film's release, executive producer and Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs stated "If Toy Story is a modest hit—say $75 million at the box office, we'll [Pixar and Disney] both break even. If it gets $100 million, we'll both make money. But if it's a real blockbuster and earns $200 million or so at the box office, we'll make good money, and Disney will make a lot of money." Upon its release on November 22, 1995, Toy Story managed to gross more than $350 million worldwide.[64] Disney chairman Michael Eisner stated "I don't think either side thought Toy Story would turn out as well as it has. The technology is brilliant, the casting is inspired, and I think the story will touch a nerve. Believe me, when we first agreed to work together, we never thought their first movie would be our 1995 holiday feature, or that they could go public on the strength of it."[64] The film's first five days of domestic release (on Thanksgiving weekend) earned it $39.1 million.[111] The film placed first in the weekend's box office with $29.1 million[3] and maintained the number-one position at the domestic box office for the next two weekends. Toy Story became the highest-grossing domestic film of 1995, beating Batman Forever, Apollo 13 (also starring Tom Hanks), Pocahontas, Casper, Waterworld, and GoldenEye.[112] At the time of its release, it was the third-highest-grossing animated film of all time, after The Lion King (1994) and Aladdin (1992).[20] When not considering inflation, Toy Story is number 96 on the list of the highest-grossing domestic films of all time.[113] The film had gross receipts of $192.5 million in the U.S. and Canada and $181.8 million in international markets for a total of $374.4 million worldwide.[3] At the time of its release, the film ranked as the 17th-highest-grossing film (unadjusted) domestically and the 21st-highest-grossing film worldwide.


Lasseter with the Special Achievement Oscar

The film won and was nominated for various other awards including a Kids' Choice Award, MTV Movie Award, and a British Academy Film Award, among others. John Lasseter received a Special Achievement Academy Award in 1996 "for the development and inspired application of techniques that have made possible the first feature-length computer-animated film".[114][115] Additionally, the film was nominated for three Academy Awards, two to Randy Newman for Best Music—Original Song, for "You've Got a Friend in Me", and Best Music—Original Musical or Comedy Score.[116] It was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay for the work by Joel Cohen, Pete Docter, John Lasseter, Joe Ranft, Alec Sokolow, Andrew Stanton and Joss Whedon, making it the first animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award writing category.[116]

Toy Story won eight Annie Awards, including Best Animated Feature. Animator Pete Docter, director John Lasseter, musician Randy Newman, producers Bonnie Arnold and Ralph Guggenheim, production designer Ralph Eggleston, and writers Joel Cohen, Alec Sokolow, Andrew Stanton, and Joss Whedon all won awards for Best Individual Achievement in their respective fields for their work on the film. The film also won Best Individual Achievement in technical achievement.[117]

Toy Story was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards, one for Best Motion Picture—Comedy or Musical, and one for Best Original Song—Motion Picture for Newman's "You've Got a Friend in Me".[118] At both the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards and the Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards, the film won "Best Animated Film".[119][120] Toy Story is also among the top ten in the BFI list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14,[121] and the highest-placed (at No. 99) animated film in Empire magazine's list of "500 Greatest Movies of All Time".[122] In 2005, Toy Story, along with Toy Story 2 was voted the 4th greatest cartoon in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Cartoons poll, behind The Simpsons, Tom and Jerry, and South Park.[123]

Impact and legacy

Toy Story had a large impact on the film industry with its innovative computer animation. After the film's debut, various industries were interested in the technology used for the film. Graphics chip makers desired to compute imagery similar to the film's animation for personal computers; game developers wanted to learn how to replicate the animation for video games; and robotics researchers were interested in building artificial intelligence into their machines that compared to the film's lifelike characters.[124] Various authors have also compared the film to an interpretation of Don Quixote as well as humanism.[125][126] In addition, Toy Story left an impact with its catchphrase "To Infinity and Beyond", sequels, and software, among others. In 2005 (10 years after its theatrical release), the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress, one of only six films to be selected in its first year of eligibility.[127]

"To Infinity... and Beyond!"

Buzz Lightyear's line "To Infinity... and Beyond!" has been used not only on themed merchandise, but among philosophers and mathematical theorists as well.[128][129][130] In 2008, during STS-124 astronauts took an action figure of Buzz Lightyear into space on Space Shuttle Discovery as part of an educational experience for students while stressing the catchphrase. The action figure was used for experiments in zero-g.[131] It was reported in 2008 that a father and son had continually repeated the phrase to help them keep track of each other while treading water for 15 hours in the Atlantic Ocean.[132] The phrase occurs in the lyrics of Beyoncé's 2008 song "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)", during the bridge.[133] In 2012, the late Capital STEEZ released a song titled "Infinity and Beyond" in reference to the phrase as part of his AmeriKKKan Korruption mixtape.[134]

Disney has also recycled the phrase in homage to Toy Story at least twice. In the "blooper reel" shown during the credits of A Bug's Life, Dave Foley says the line while in character as Flik, and Tim Allen himself repeated his famous line in The Shaggy Dog, in a scene when the titular character jumps off a bridge onto a moving vehicle. [135]

Other influences

Toy Story's cast of characters forms the basis for the naming of the releases of the Debian computer operating system, from Debian 1.1 Buzz, the first release with a codename, in 1996, to Debian 11 Bullseye, the most-recently announced future release.[136][137]

In 2013, Pixar designed a "Gromit Lightyear" sculpture based on the Aardman Animations character Gromit for Gromit Unleashed which sold for £65,000.[138]


The sequel, titled Toy Story 2, was released on November 24, 1999. In the story, Woody is stolen by a toy collector, leading Buzz and his friends to launch a rescue mission. Initially, Toy Story 2 was going to be a direct-to-video release, with development beginning in 1996.[139] However, after the cast from Toy Story returned and the story was considered to be better than that of a direct-to-video release, it was announced in 1998 that the sequel would see a theatrical release.[140]

Toy Story 3 was released on June 18, 2010. In the film, Andy's toys are accidentally donated to a day-care center as he prepares to leave for college.

Toy Story 4 was released on June 21, 2019,[141] with most of the main cast returning for the film.[142] Sheriff Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest get used to living with Bonnie, who creates a new toy named Forky, from recycled materials from school. As they go on a road trip with Bonnie, Woody is also reunited with Bo Peep, and must decide where his loyalties lie.

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