Stanton and Lasseter have reportedly been working on a treatment for Toy Story 4 over the last two years. During that time, they brought on Rashida Jones, who has starred onParks and Recreation and The Office, and Will McCormack, who previously wroteCeleste & Jesse Forever alongside Jones, to write the full screenplay. Lasseter reportedly called them in after seeing the film they wrote together, and because he was looking for a strong female voice. "They have such a great sense of character and originality," Lasseter tells the Times. Galyn Susman, who has been producing Toy Storyshorts for Pixar, will produce the fourth film.
"We love these characters so much; they are like family to us," Lasseter says in a statement. "We don’t want to do anything with them unless it lives up to or surpasses what’s gone before. Toy Story 3 ended Woody and Buzz’s story with Andy so perfectly that for a long time, we never even talked about doing another Toy Story movie. But when Andrew, Pete, Lee, and I came up with this new idea, I just could not stop thinking about it. It was so exciting to me, I knew we had to make this movie — and I wanted to direct it myself."
Regardless of your feeling about Pixar's sequels, having Lasseter on board is a great sign. Lasseter's one of the major forces responsible for Pixar's dominance in animation and high quality story telling — same goes for Disney's resurgence in making well-received films. He's currently both Disney and Pixar's chief creative officer, and he previously directed both the first and second Toy Story films. Variety is also reporting that Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are on board to reprise their roles as Woody and Buzz.
Even before today, Pixar hadn't really retired the Toy Story characters. It's brought them back for a pair TV specials and a number of short films, which have been generally well liked. Those specials have been following the toys under their latest owner, which is where one would expect to see them in this fourth film.
Between now and Toy Story 4, we know of at least three other Pixar films. Next year will see both Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur, and 2016 will have the Finding Nemosequel Finding Dory. That would mean two new properties next year, followed by two years of sequels to beloved properties. Of the four movies, Inside Out is the only one that we really know a good bit about yet: Pixar released a first teaser for it last month, and it's hard not to see it as following in the footsteps of classics like Monsters, Inc.