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'Toy Story' Polished Up for Its 10th

26 Aug, 2005 By: Holly J. Wagner

EMERYVILLE, Calif. – When fans and viewers get their first look at Pixar/Buena Vista Home Entertainment's 10th anniversary edition of Toy Story, it will look better than it ever has before.

Even though the film already has been out on disc — not only on DVD but as one of a few animated features ever committed to laserdisc — the new edition due Sept. 6 will include technological advancements as well as a second disc with new bonus materials.

The set includes a digital presentation that has “more bits than ever in the history of mankind,” said Roger Gould, the creative director for the shorts on the disc set. And it sports audio tracks mixed for home theater presentations.

“The great thing about sound is that people notice even if they don't articulate it,” said Oscar-winning sound designer Gary Ryderstrom. “People are much more savvy about sound because of home theaters than they were 10 years ago.”

They won't be disappointed. The new set includes a Dolby 5.1 EX sound mix for the best available sound, along with a toy chest of bonus materials, including commentaries, deleted scenes and story reels that were never completed for inclusion in the movie and featurettes, giving viewers more insight into the movie's creation than they've ever had before.

“I'm just glad they were able to find stuff that wasn't on the laserdisc for this,” said film editor Lee Unkrich during a roundtable discussion at Pixar headquarters.

The creators talked about their pride in the film, the fun they had making it and how Disney almost pulled the plug on it before it was ever finished.

Pixar has never made a movie that was an adaptation from a book or another story, said writer Andrew Stanton. The creators believe that's a key to the studio's success to date. “Cinema history is littered with bad sequels to good movies,” Unkrich said.

DVD quality also contributes to a movie's post-theatrical success.

“The biggest thing is that now it is not unusual that it looks and sounds better in your living room,” Stanton said, and better things are ahead: “High-def [discs] will match what we see here [at the studio].”

It was a bittersweet event, coming just a week after the death of Joe Ranft, one of the story's co-writers, in a car accident. On the set, a 16-minute featurette of the creative team discussing the film lets viewers in on the creative process, but the chat ends hauntingly with Ranft raising his glass and toasting, “Let's hope we're sitting here talking about another movie in another 10 years.”

By year's end, however, fans will likely be talking about Toy Story 2's special edition, which will be released along with Dark Water Dec. 26 to take advantage of the post-holiday release lull and shopping surge.

“We know that retail traffic is still at a peak right after the holidays,” said Lori MacPherson, SVP of brand marketing for Buena Vista. “In addition, many consumers will have received new home theater equipment, such as widescreen TVs and DVD players, as gifts.”

Gift cards also factored into the decision. “The day after Christmas, store traffic should be high, consumers should have gift cards in their pockets, and there should be few new DVD choices,” she said.

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