'Toy Story 4' producers explain why there's no Pixar short attached to the film (exclusive)

Tom Butler
Senior Editor

It was reported this week that Toy Story 4 would break a 20+ year tradition when it lands in U.K. cinemas this Friday, 21 June.

The fourth Toy Story film - directed by Josh Cooley - will be the first Pixar film since the first Toy Story in 1995 to not have an animated short playing in front of it*.

And now, thanks to Toy Story 4 producers Jonas Rivera and Mark Nielsen, we finally know why.

“The real reason [there’s no short attached] is resources,” Nielsen tells Yahoo Movies UK.

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

Read more: Hanks says Disney will ‘kick his a**’ for spoilers

“We love the shorts,” adds Rivera, exec producer of two Pixar shorts: 2009’s George and A.J., and 2015’s Riley’s First Date, who promises they’ll return in the future. “And we’re continuing to do the SparkShorts, and all that stuff at Pixar, but yeah, it just didn’t line up for this one.”

Mark Nielsen (L) and Jonas Rivera attend the European premiere of Disney and Pixar's "Toy Story 4". (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney and Pixar)

A “lack of resources” at Pixar initially sounds a bit concerning, considering Toy Story 4 is the studio’s only major release in 2019. But it has two features lined up for 2020 - Onward in March 2020, and an as-yet-unannounced June 2020 title - one in 2021, and two more in 2022 which Rivera previously promised would all be “insanely different, and unrecognisable to the other”, it’s no surprise it’s all hands on deck at the Emeryville campus.

The studio’s short film convention began in 1998 with A Bug's Life, which was accompanied by the chess-centric (and subsequently Oscar-winning) Geri's Game.

The tradition, which the animation studio uses to spotlight upcoming filmmakers, continued up to Incredibles 2, which featured the Oscar-winning Bao. Five Pixar shorts have won Oscars during the studio’s 35 year history - Tin Toy, Geri’s Game, For The Birds, Piper, and Bao.

Directed by Domee Shi and produced by Becky Neiman-Cobb, Pixar's Bao won Best Animated Short at the 2019 Academy Awards. (©2018 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.)

The company has also produced a number of shorts that aren’t attached to theatrical releases. Some are released as DVD extras (Jack-Jack Attack, Mater and the Ghostlight), some are made-for-TV (Toy Story of Terror, Mater’s Tall Tales), while others have been attached to non-Pixar Disney releases - 2011’s The Muppets was released with Toy Story short Small Fry attached.

More recently, Pixar has been releasing its SparkShorts directly to YouTube. The experimental off-shoot sees Pixar employees being given a small budget and six-months to develop their own original ideas, which are then published online. They’ve been praised for their mature themes, with one featuring Pixar’s first curse word.

Read more: Rave reviews for Toy Story 4

It’s been confirmed that future SparkShorts films will be exclusive to Disney’s upcoming streaming service Disney+.

*Coco also broke with tradition in 2017 by playing with Disney Animation Studios’ Olaf’s Frozen Adventure attached. There was no short attached for the U.K. release.

Toy Story 4 lands in the cinemas on Friday, 21 June. Watch a trailer below.