Why ‘Toy Story 4’ Isn’t Being Released With A New Pixar Short

People who head to the theater for Toy Story 4 (out June 21) will be reunited with Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest of the gang, but something will be missing. While many of the studio's past releases were preceded by another animated film, there is no Pixar short before Toy Story 4, as confirmed to Bustle by a Disney representative. What's the deal?

Short films have accompanied Pixar movies in the theater for 21 years, starting with A Bug's Life in 1998, which was the second Pixar movie. The first Toy Story movie, released in 1995, didn't have a short and is the only Pixar film — well, other than Toy Story 4, now — to not be originally be shown with one. The word "originally" is key here, because a short called Tin Toy was added to the video release of Toy Story. And while 2017's Coco was released with a short film, Olaf's Frozen Adventure, it only ran with Coco for a limited time. (Some thought that this had to do with complaints about the lengthy 21-minute runtime — much longer than most of the Pixar shorts — but Disney maintained that it was always the plan for it to be a limited release.)

Pixar hasn't explained why Toy Story 4 is being released without a short, but it could be because this is thought to be the last Toy Story movie. "We have a never-say-never rule for what the future’s going to be at Pixar, but, I think, as filmmakers we’ve crafted this to be the conclusion," producer Jonas Rivera told the Toronto Sun, "If there’s never another one, we’re happy. We know the characters live on and we imply a future, which we did in the other films as well, but I think narratively this completes Woody’s arc."

To show the film without a short connects this (potentially) last Toy Story movie back to the original and keeps the audience's focus entirely on the Toy Story characters, which seems almost like a show of respect for them.

The Independent notes, though, that there could be another reason. "Pixar may also be holding back their shorts for a recent program announced as part of SparkShorts, an independent animated short film series developed by the studio," the publication states. The program involves Pixar filmmakers being given six months to make new shorts that are then released on the studio's YouTube channel.

While the first and fourth Toy Story weren't paired with shorts in the theater, the second and third movies were. Luxo Jr., a 1988 short about an adult lamp and a kid lamp playing with a ball (yep, the same lamp in the Pixar logo), was paired with Toy Story 2. Toy Story 3 was shown with Day & Night, in which two animated characters personify daytime and nighttime.

A number of Pixar shorts have gone on to win or be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short. Of the 15 that have been nominated, five have won: Tin Toy, Geri's Game (paired with A Bug's Life), For the Birds (Monster's Inc.), Piper (Finding Dory), and Bao (Incredibles 2).

While audiences won't get a new short when they watch Toy Story 4, if they want to take a walk down memory lane, that's easy. The existing shorts are available online, including in collections that can be rented on Amazon or found on YouTube.