“We love these characters so much; they are like family to us.”
Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced Thursday that the studio is planning a fourth installment in the hit animated franchise 'Toy Story.'
Don't Miss: Incredible Pokemon Gifts
John Lasseter, who directed the original 'Toy Story' film in 1995 along with the 1999 sequel is set to direct the fourth movie.
Lasseter collaborated on the story with Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter and Lee Unkrich, who all served as the "driving force" for the past three "Toy Story" films.
“We love these characters so much; they are like family to us,” Lasseter said in a press release. “We don’t want to do anything with them unless it lives up to or surpasses what’s gone before.”
“‘Toy Story 3’ ended Woody and Buzz’s story with Andy so perfectly that for a long time, we never even talked about doing another ‘Toy Story’ movie," he added.
“But when Andrew, Pete, Lee and I came up with this new idea, I just could not stop thinking about it. It was so exciting to me, I knew we had to make this movie — and I wanted to direct it myself.”
Although Disney announced the official project for 'Toy Story 4' is now underway -- rumors have spread since the third film in the franchise racked in more than $1 billion in revenue at the global box office. The franchise has earned nearly $2 billion at the worldwide box office since debuting in 1997.
Tim Allen, who voices Buzz Lightyear, had committed to a fourth movie regardless of whether it actually came to getting a green light. Tom Hanks has also expressed interest in returning as his character Woody as well over the years.
Pixar had previously brought the the Toy Story characters back for a pair of TV specials and a number of short films, which have been generally well received.
Pixar is also set to release three other films over the next few years. In 2015 the release of 'Inside and Out' along with 'The Good Dinosaur,' and in 2016 'Finding Nemo' sequel will also be released into movie theaters.
The fourth installment 'Toy Story' movie is set for release on June 16, 2017.