playtime's not over
Toy Story 5 and Frozen 3 are in the works at Disney
Woody and Elsa are headed back to a theater near you.
Disney has confirmed that new sequels to Toy Story and Frozen are in the works, as is a follow-up to Zootopia. Disney CEO Bob Iger dropped the news during an earnings call on Wednesday.
No details about the sequels were revealed, including their release dates. But Buzz Lightyear voice actor Tim Allen, who notably didn't voice the character in 2022's Lightyear, celebrated the news. "And off we go to a number 5!" he tweeted. "To infinity and beyond!"
Toy Story and Frozen released their most recent big-screen installments in 2019, and both were massive hits. Toy Story 4 grossed over $1 billion, and Frozen II was even bigger, taking in $1.4 billion and becoming the highest-grossing animated film of all time (unless you count Disney's live-action-style The Lion King as an animated movie). Zootopia also grossed over $1 billion in 2016 but never spawned any follow-ups other than a recent Disney+ spinoff series.
For Iger, announcing these three major sequels all at once may have been a bid to assure shareholders that the company's animated film division has a bright future after a rough year. Pixar's Lightyear, a spinoff of Toy Story, and the original animated sci-fi film Strange World were both back-to-back flops in 2022. Strange World did not even reach $80 million at the box office, and Variety reported it would lose at least $100 million for Disney.
But Disney now has several animated films on the horizon that look like sure-fire hits, and previously announced sequels include Inside Out 2. For now, though, Disney's two major animated theatrical releases of 2023, Elemental and Wish, are both original. After Strange World flamed out, whether those films perform well could help determine how much of a place there is for theatrical, non-franchise animation on Disney's slate going forward — and how willing the company will be to venture into the unknown.