Toy Story is a 1995 American computer-animated buddy comedy adventure film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The directorial debut of John Lasseter, Toy Story was the first feature-length computer-animated film and the first theatrical film produced by Pixar. Taking place in a world where anthropomorphic toys pretend to be lifeless whenever humans are present, the film’s plot focuses on the relationship between Woody, a pullstring cowboy doll (voiced by Tom Hanks), and Buzz Lightyear, an astronaut action figure (voiced by Tim Allen), as they evolve from rivals competing for the affections of Andy, their owner, to friends who work together to be reunited with Andy as his family prepares to move to a new home. The screenplay was written by Joss Whedon, Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen, and Alec Sokolow, based on a story by Lasseter, Pete Docter, Stanton and Joe Ranft. The film features music by Randy Newman, and its executive producers were Steve Jobs and Edwin Catmull.
Pixar, which produced short animated films to promote their computers, was approached by Disney to produce a computer-animated feature after the success of their short film Tin Toy (1988), which is told from a small toy’s perspective. Lasseter, Stanton, and Docter wrote early story treatments which were thrown out by Disney, who pushed for a more edgy film. After disastrous story reels, production was halted and the script was re-written, better reflecting the tone and theme Pixar desired: that “toys deeply want children to play with them, and that this desire drives their hopes, fears, and actions.” The studio, then consisting of a relatively small number of employees, produced the film under minor financial constraints.
Released in theaters on November 22, 1995, Toy Story was the highest-grossing film on its opening weekend and earned over $373 million worldwide. The film was widely acclaimed by critics, who praised the animation’s technical innovation, the wit and thematic sophistication of the screenplay, and the performances of Hanks and Allen. It is now considered by many critics to be one of the best animated films ever made. The film received three Academy Award nominations, including Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song for “You’ve Got a Friend in Me“, as well as winning a Special Achievement Academy Award. It was inducted into the National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” in 2005, its first year of eligibility.
In addition to home media releases and theatrical re-releases, Toy Story-inspired material has run the gamut from toys, video games, theme park attractions, spin-offs, merchandise, and two sequels—Toy Story 2 (1999) and Toy Story 3 (2010)—both of which also garnered massive commercial success and critical acclaim, with a third sequel, Toy Story 4, slated for a 2019 release