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It seems like each week now, we get some new lesson in just how fast information, both true and false, can spread online. The moment someone breaks a story like El Mayimbe's Harrison Ford scoop last week, it is everywhere. And while there's been no official confirmation of that story yet, most online organizations picked the story up because they trusted the origin of the information.
But what about when people suddenly create headlines around something that comes from a totally untrustworthy and untested source? Why do things that have no immediate credibility suddenly become worldwide trending topics on Twitter? Is is just a case of people wanting a rumor to be true so much that they don't care about reality? As Wilco once sang, "All my lies are only wishes," and it sounds today like a lot of people wish there was a "Toy Story 4" arriving in theaters in 2015.
The problem is, it's not.
I spent some time this morning and afternoon double and triple checking things, and I'm comfortable calling foul on this one, top to bottom. It's not happening. There's no story, there's no team at Pixar working on this, there's no energy being spent on the thought of a "Toy Story 4." Right now, Pixar is busy with a number of projects. There are "Toy Story" related efforts being made, but in the form of short films that we've been seeing for a while. On the feature side, they've got a very busy slate, with "Monsters University" set for this summer, "The Good Dinosaur" set for May of 2014, and "The Untitled Pixar Movie That Takes You Inside The Mind" set for June of 2015. On top of that, there's a Dia De Los Muertos film set for sometime in the future that Lee Unkrich is directing, and if they're doing a one-a-year schedule, then that's their 2016 release.
So where would they even put a "Toy Story 4"? I guarantee it's not 2015. One of the secrets of Pixar being Pixar has been the way they focus on their films as a team. Yes, they have several things working their way through development right now, but they're staggered in a way that allows their creative team to all contribute to one another's movies. I've been to their studios a few times, and watching the way they work, there's such an amazing open energy, and it's literally part of the way they designed the building, not just the company. Everything at Pixar is designed to force a co-mingling of the various people working there, whether it's the common areas where they eat and play or the all-glass design of the conference rooms that all offer views into the other conference rooms. Even the personal work areas are encouraged to be designed and decorated in ways that invite interaction.
Pixar has proven over the years that "Toy Story" remains one of the most important properties that they've got as a company. For both "Toy Story 2" and "Toy Story 3," there were scripts developed that were thrown out because they didn't feel like they were ready to go into production. They will dismantle a film mid-stream if they feel like it's not working, and until they know they've got the movie they want to make, they don't set dates and make major announcements.
And I'm sorry, but if they are going to announce something, they're not going to send the information out to the world through a Colombian radio personality's personal Twitter feed.
Think about it. I beg you, especially if you were one of the news outlets that picked this story up. Think about where this began. Do you really believe, on any level, that a studio as marketing-savvy as Disney is going to break the news on one of their biggest corporate assets through a non-English Twitter feed? It doesn't make any sense at all. Why would their first move be to confirm to this guy that Tom Hanks, Joan Cusack, and TIm Allen had all officially signed on? Before they've announced the film, before they've made any sort of statement… that's the move? "Well, let's make sure Jorge Luis Balaguera is in the loop before we do anything else, fellas."
I'm not even sure who he is, and I'm not even really saying anything about him. I'm just questioning the logic of how this supposedly unfolded. He didn't offer it as a rumor or as a tip or a scoop. He stated that this was confirmed.
Well, it's not. At all. So calm down, everyone. Right now, there's no "Toy Story 4" to get worked up about, and there's no credible story to discuss. What there is, once again, is an illustration of just how far fake news can spread, and how fast. It is illuminating, to say the least.
In the meantime, let's stay focused on the films Pixar really is making, and let's hope this next wave of original titles is a reminder of just how good they can be when they bring their full creative energies to bear on a project.