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A Closer Look: "TOY STORY 2" Hits U.S. Theaters!

The newest Pixar/Disney CGI feature should prove to be a huge hit...

The long awaited sequel to the 1995 groundbreaking Pixar/Disney CGIfeature, "Toy Story," directed by John Lasseter, will debut in U.S.theaters next Thursday, November 24, 1999. The release will be accompaniedby John Lasseter's Academy Award-nominated animated short, "Luxo Jr."(1986), starring a desk lamp and its precocious "child." "Toy Story 2"continues the story of cowboy-doll Woody, and his action figure SpaceRanger friend, Buzz Lightyear. When Woody is stolen by a greedy toycollector, Buzz and the other playthings must venture out to save theirfriend. In an interview with AWN, co-director Ash Brannon revealed, "Thebasic premise of the new film comes from John [Lasseter] thinking, 'What ifWoody was kidnapped by a toy collector?' It was inspired by the realizationthat John has a lot of toys in his own office that his kids cannot playwith because they are collector's items." This project started in 1996 as adirect-to-video sequel, but the directors knew they had a great story, andkept the standards of a theatrical film. To top it all off, the originalcast returned, including Tom Hanks (Woody) and Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear).At the beginning of 1998, the studio announced that "Toy Story 2" would bea theatrical feature.

Since its theatrical release in 1995, the original "Toy Story" has grossed$360 million worldwide, and sold more than 22 million videocassettes in theU.S. alone. The AWN staff was treated to a preview screening and we have nodoubt that "Toy Story 2" will follow the same path. Not because it's a hugeDisney production, but because the animation is spectacular, and, aboveall, it is a great story, with great characters. John Lasseter has a Midastouch. His "Luxo Jr." was the first computer animated film where the storyand characters were more important than the fact that it was made with acomputer. Plus it made audiences wonder whether the desk lamp was a motheror a father!

Just how does one become an animation pioneer? In "Toon Story: JohnLasseter's Animated Life," Mike Lyons profiled John Lasseter, on the eve of Pixar's "Toy Story" follow-up, "A Bug's Life."

Karl Cohen will review "Toy Story 2" in the December 1999 issue ofAnimation World Magazine.