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Here’s why ‘Toy Story 4’ is breaking a decades-long tradition at Pixar

Published Jun 18th, 2019 6:35PM EDT
Toy Story 4
Image: Disney

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One of the things that Pixar fans always look forward to whenever there’s a new feature film release from the beloved animation studio happens before the film itself gets underway.

From the squawking birds on a wire in For the Birds that was shown alongside Monsters Inc. to last year’s heartfelt Bao released alongside Incredibles 2, Pixar’s gorgeous and immensely satisfying shorts have been a staple of its releases for a few decades. Unfortunately, Toy Story 4 is set to finally break this tradition when it arrives in theaters this weekend.

Over the past few days, word had begun to trickle out that this would be the first Pixar feature since 1995’s original Toy Story to not be preceded by an animated short film. And now we know why. In a conversation with Yahoo Movies UK, Toy Story 4 producers Jonas Rivera and Mark Nielsen attributed the lack of a short to what they described as a scarcity of resources this time around.

“The people at the studio were all needed to work on feature films at the time,” Nielsen told the outlet. “There was a big demand to finish up the last few films, and there just wasn’t the people to make a short.”

The good news, however, comes from Rivera, who adds that the shorts will definitely come back. Rivera has also served as an executive producer of two Pixar shorts: George and A.J. and Riley’s First Date.

This also comes at a time when Pixar has been ramping up its SparkShorts animation initiative, which is a kind of foundation for independent projects within the company that helps keep its tradition of short films alive, but also brings new animation and directing talent to the fore that might not have otherwise had a chance to work on one of the shorts attached to a feature. Pixar has been sharing those on YouTube, and they’re also coming to Disney+ later this year when Disney’s streaming service is finally live.

Bottom line: If you’re expecting another stellar animated short when you head to the theater this weekend for Toy Story 4, you’ll be disappointed. Luckily, though, it appears the shorts aren’t gone for good.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.