John Lassiter announced at D23 today that Josh Cooley will be replacing him as director on "Toy Story 4."
Full details here:

This news comes approximate two years after Cooley was announced as the co-director, and follows two separate delays in "Toy Story 4"'s release date (it was originally announced for June 2017, got pushed to June 2018, and then swapped with "Incredibles 2" for June 2019). It sounds like the film is having trouble, especially since the last high profile director switch was for "The Good Dinosaur," which also got delayed. But given the two delays, hopefully it means they're determined to make it right. When it releases, it will be 8 years since Tom Hanks let slip in 2011 that the film was probably being made, and 5 years since it was officially announced in 2014.
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I used to be curious/mildly excited for Toy Story 4. But now I'm definitely not as much on board as I was before. It sounds like they don't even know what the movie is anymore. From what I heard, they are still experimenting with other possible plot lines. Didn't John Lassetter say that they will only make sequels if they are as good or better than the original? He said that this was the case when Toy Story 4 was first announced and that he knew he had to do this because of how amazing the idea was. I see only two problems with that. 

1) He's not even directing anymore
2) They don't even know what they want the movie to be!! 

How can he claim that this movie is as good or better than the others if he doesn't even have a plot yet. 

Honestly it all just seems like a profit opportunity to me as of now. The movie is still 2 years away, so I could be totally wrong, and I really hope I am. Sorry to be the Debbie Downer here but I feel like this forum is perfect to also express our concerns and worries for something we love, rather than just praising everything. 
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Somehow, I knew there were production issues on TS4 since the First Date change. Normally Pixar doesn’t announce the date of an un-dated film (Cars 3) a year and a half prior to its release, it’s usually 3 years.

While I am very hyped for TS4 its been my least hyped upcoming film since about 2015 because of the already huge franchise expanding rather than focusing on something new. Although that can change, like that was my original feeling for Cars 3 until I saw the teaser.
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It's a very personal story inspired by Lasseter's wife...but Lasseter's not making it anymore.

That's...interesting, if nothing else. 

(Source on him calling it personal.)

Luis504170 wrote:
Sorry to be the Debbie Downer here  

You should be sorry; that's MY job. [Silly_zps7c205e8c]
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Bonnie wrote:
It's a very personal story inspired by Lasseter's wife...but Lasseter's not making it anymore.

That's...interesting, if nothing else. 

(Source on him calling it personal.)

You should be sorry; that's MY job. [Silly_zps7c205e8c]

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It could just be because John is one of the big names at Pixar, he looks over everything at not just Pixar but also WDAS. I wouldn't be surprised if he just didn't have the time to direct another film at the moment. This could be Josh Cooley's big directing break!

I hope he does at least one more in the future. 
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Development hell, always a good sign.

Luis504170 wrote:
I used to be curious/mildly excited for Toy Story 4. But now I'm definitely not as much on board as I was before. It sounds like they don't even know what the movie is anymore...
Honestly it all just seems like a profit opportunity to me as of now.

Agreed. I felt Toy Story 3 was as good an ending to the theme of 'Andy's toys' as you could ask for. To be honest, after that, I was always sceptical of the motives behind TS4. (I've said before, it's as if they want to go back to the old workhorse after recent hiccups) I don't doubt that John Lasseter had a great story lined up, but with all this news I wonder how much of it will survive the process.
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WarrenJB wrote:
Development hell, always a good sign. Agreed. I felt Toy Story 3 was as good an ending to the theme of 'Andy's toys' as you could ask for. To be honest, after that, I was always sceptical of the motives behind TS4. (I've said before, it's as if they want to go back to the old workhorse after recent hiccups) I don't doubt that John Lasseter had a great story lined up, but with all this news I wonder how much of it will survive the process.

Yeah I agree with you as well. 

Toy Story 3 was a perfect ending, but that never really was my mentality going into Toy Story 4. I thought that if John Lassetter genuinely has a story worth telling, that he believes is amazing (and he did say this at the time) then it's fine.

But now, they don't even know what the story is.
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This is why Lasseter stepped down:

“I always felt like I need to keep directing, and that’s why I decided to do Toy Story 4 initially, but I oversee three studios and I think I counted 24 feature films I’m overseeing, and it was not really practical, to be blunt. But also what made it easy was Josh Cooley was amazing; wait until you see it – he is so good. And it was time to let go of the bike and let him ride, and he’s doing a great job. It’s really fantastic. And I do get creative satisfaction from being the executive producer, the chief creative officer, and helping all of these great filmmakers. So that’s what made the decision for me, and I’m loving what I do. I have the best job in the world.”

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Cartoon Brew has confirmed that John Lasseter actually stepped down in August 2016, but this was only announced this past weekend at D23:

They also received an unconfirmed blind item (an anonymous tip of sorts) that disputes Pixar's version of events:

Cartoon Brew wrote:
Following a harsh internal review, he has been removed as writer/director of the latest film in this beloved series. The review was brutal. He can’t write. The studio will spin it as he was stretched too thin.

Cartoon Brew can neither confirm nor deny this alternative version of events, but it would certainly make sense.

Anyhow, putting this all together, here's a timeline of notable events in the film's production (let me know if I made any mistakes):

June 2011: Tom Hanks lets slip in an interview that Toy Story 4 is being made; this is denied by Disney
November 2012: earliest confirmed existence of the project (via the LA Times two years later:
November 2014: officially announced for a June 2017 release
March 2015: Josh Cooley announced as co-director
October 2015: film pushed back to June 2018
August 2016: John Lasseter replaced, according to Cartoon Brew
October 2016: film pushed back to June 2019
July 2017: director switch officially announced
June 2019: current and latest release date
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I feel torn.

In general I believe it's illogical to believe random tips on the internet. Yes, I know occasionally they turn out to be right, but they definitely don't all the time, and I think it's better to have skeptical be the default (I'd rather disbelieve something that turned out to be true then believe something that turned out to be a lie). 

But after I typed that little paragraph I started typing up a comment on the basis it was false and it just sounded kind of stupid, like I was ignoring way too much. If it truly is just Lasseter getting burnt out then that seems like an amazing lack of foresight, and, since it seems very unlikely they announced it the second they decided to do it, it would've taken them about three years to figure out it's too much work.

Then again, didn't they imply it was still in writing stages in the behind the scenes thing before the early showing of Inside Out? That could be just simplifying things for the camera, or maybe they did announce it the second they thought of it.

Or maybe I don't know the animated film-making process as well as I'd like to.

I don't know what to believe here. I guess if I had to I'd default to being skeptical of the tip.

Also, reading the comments, wow, I didn't know Lasseter was on board with that wage fixing thing. If I liked him that'd probably feel like a gut punch to hear. Instead I just dislike him more. 

Edit: I didn't know they got the tip a while ago. That complicates things more. The message maintains a balance of just specific enough to make me kind of want to believe it but just vague enough to make me kind of not. 
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Cartoon Brew has a pretty good reputation, and they also caution against taking the tip too seriously, since they can't verify it. However, they redacted the director and the film when they originally published it, and now that Pixar has confirmed that that part of the tip was true (that Lasseter is no longer directing Toy Story 4), CB saw fit to confirm it.

Of course, just because the tip was correct in saying (almost a full year in advance too) that Lasseter got switched out doesn't necessarily mean that their alleged reason he was switched out is also true. I don't know if we'll ever get to find out whether or not it's true, since as CB says it's impossible to verify, but you needn't necessarily have to choose between believing or disbelieving — personally I think I'll just keep what they said in mind, but won't commit to believing or disbelieving their claims.

However, I'd say that since the tip was correct in reporting the director switch almost a year in advance, I think at the very least it's substantial enough to not be easily dismissed on the basis that it's some random and anonymous claim on the Internet. And there are no red flags in the tip that expose any contradictions or fallacies.

As for Inside Out's thing, that was June 2015. According to CB, the director switch on Toy Story 4 happened summer 2016.
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I know Inside Out's behind the scenes video was before he left. What I was trying to get across was this;

- Movie announced 2014, Lasseter dropped 2016. Two year time span.

- Movie most likely wasn't announced as soon they decided to make it, so it was probably in production a bit earlier than 2014. Round to 3 years.

- Three years to figure out someone's schedule is too packed seems like a lot.

- HOWEVER, Inside Out's video indicates the film was still in writing stages, presuming one of the earliest stages, in 2015.

- Perhaps they really weren't developing it before 2014.

- If they weren't developing it before then maybe the time span is shorter and therefore more believable.

- But I could just be ignorant of the intricacies of filmmaking. 

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The LA Times article I linked above has confirmed that the project has existed as early as 2012, though Tom Hanks did let slip in 2011 that he believed Toy Story 4 was in the works.

LA Times, Nov. 2014 wrote:
Over the last two years Lasseter and Stanton wrote a treatment and pulled in other writers, including Rashida Jones and Will McCormack after seeing their 2012 comedy "Celeste and Jesse Forever," about a divorcing couple who try to remain friends.

This Variety article, meanwhile, suggests that Stanton may have done the bulk of the writing of the treatment:

Variety, Mar. 2015 wrote:
Lasseter’s protectiveness of the property meant that even studio presidents Catmull and Jim Morris were unaware that Pixar creatives were even discussing a third sequel until Stanton had written a polished treatment, and it’s easy to see why.

Andrew Stanton was likely busy up till 2012 with John Carter, and after that was likely busy with Finding Dory. I'm assuming he had some time to look at TS4 before FD and/or alongside FD?

In regards to how it took them so long for Lasseter to figure out he didn't have time, here's the last 3 paragraphs of the LA Times article:

LA Times wrote:
The executive said he would continue to commute weekly to the Disney lot in Burbank while directing "Toy Story 4" and would lean on what he calls his "story trusts" at his studios, groups of directors and writers who help guide films creatively.

Asked whether it might be difficult for his staffers to tell the boss if his movie isn't working, Lasseter said he and Disney and Pixar President Ed Catmull had attempted to create an environment of candor at their studios.

"It's always hard, but it's one of my jobs to make it easier for people," Lasseter said. "We work really hard to create an atmosphere where people feel like they can be honest without retribution."

And the Variety article confirms Pixar has internal reviews every 12 weeks:

Variety wrote:
He’s mad about studio notes, requiring all Pixar filmmakers to screen works-in-progress internally every 12 weeks

They obviously tried to make it work with his busy CCO schedule and all, but if things only started picking up in 2014 after Stanton was done writing a treatment, 2 years (2014-2016) would be a pretty reasonable amount of time to figure out that Lasseter is too busy. One internal review every 12 weeks means there's only a handful each year; plus, dismal reviews are to be expected in the earlier reviews. It would only arouse concern if improvement was not made after multiple reviews, and it would probably take a lot to trigger a director switch. Josh Cooley's promotion to co-director and TS4's brief scene in the Inside Out preview tour, both in 2015, fit in this timeline too. I think it's certainly believable that they waited until 2016 to switch directors.

Of course, all of this also fits perfectly with the anonymous tip. If Lasseter was too busy, the movie would obviously suffer — thus necessitating release delays and a director switch. If the movie was going great, then obviously Lasseter wasn't being stretched too much, and the movie wouldn't have been delayed twice. If you accept this argument, then logically it's safe to assume that the movie was suffering under Lasseter's direction.
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