Last month, the latest installment in the beloved Toy Story franchise was released. While most people expected Toy Story 3 to be the end of the series, Toy Story 4 proved this wrong, and also proved why more Toy Story movies work. However, if we do get another Toy Story movie, it probably won't be for another ten years.
The first two Toy Story movies only released about 4 years apart, with the original plan being for Toy Story 2 to only be a straight-to-home release like most Disney sequels at the time. The push for the sequel was largely just a quick cash grab, but when the script ended up being really good, Disney and Pixar decided to give it a theatrical release. However, due to a number of serious issues with the animation process (mainly, 90% of their progress being accidentally deleted less than a year before the movie's intended release), the creation of Toy Story 2 became an incredibly hectic process for Pixar.
Disney and Pixar did not end up releasing Toy Story 3 until 2010, a whopping 11 years after the previous installment. Evidently, they decided to take their time with the threequel to make sure they got everything right and wouldn't have to rush the animation again. Following a similar pattern, Toy Story 4 did not release until 2019, 9 years after the previous movie. Assuming that the potential next installment in this successful franchise follows suit, we probably won't see Toy Story 5 until around somewhere in the late '20s at the earliest.
The Toy Story franchise isn't the only Pixar franchise to follow this pattern of having about a decade between their movies. There were 14 years between The Incredibles and The Incredibles 2, 13 years between Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, and 12 years between Monsters Inc. and Monsters University. Even some of the Disney animated movies are starting to have larger gaps between their releases, with a 6 year gap between the two Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph movies.
One of the biggest explanations for these giant gaps between Pixar and Disney movies isn't just the fact that the animation takes a while, but more so that these gaps make the sequels much more profitable. When Toy Story 2 released, it mostly just attracted the same fanbase as the first movie, earning itself only a bit more at the box office than the original Toy Story. However, when Toy Story 3 released, it not only attracted the original fanbase, but also the millions of kids that had been born between 1995 and 2010.
This turned Toy Story 3 into a massive success, making it the fourth highest grossing movie in the world at the time. Not only that, but it also made it so the movie sold a lot more merchandise, as many of the toys from the '90s were now outdated, and the sales of the previous two movies were boosted as well. The release of The Incredibles 2 last year had a similar effect, with the millions of kids born between 2004 and 2018 who may not have been Incredibles fans suddenly falling in love with the franchise, making the original movie a hit yet again.
This formula seems to be rather profitable for Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, and it doesn't look like they'll be changing it up anytime soon. Should Pixar decide to take the Toy Story franchise for a fifth run (which, let's be honest, why wouldn't they?), we probably won't see it hit theaters until around 2028 or later. However, while this is certainly a long wait for Toy Story fans that want to see what comes next for our favorite sentient toys, this will ensure that the team at Pixar has enough time to create yet another great story in order to hold onto the franchise's streak of making great movies that almost everyone will love.