'Toy Story 4': The Movie's First Easter Egg Officially Revealed
By John Boone
Courtesy of Pixar Animation Studios
Toy Story 3 ended with the tears of every adult who grew up knowing Sheriff Woody as Andy's toy. Toy Story 4 begins with its own waterworks, a flashback to a thunderstorm requiring an all hands on deck mission to rescue a toy car left outside in the rain. (The movie nearly began with a "zombie musical," but that's a story for another day.)
The opening sequence, which ET screened during a visit to Pixar Animation Studios, takes place "Nine Years Ago," on the same night that Andy's little sister, Molly, decides that she's outgrown her childhood lamp and parts ways with Bo Peep and her flock. If you watch closely, the license plate on the car that arrives to pick Bo up and take her to her next kid reads RMRF97.
"There was somebody that worked on [Toy Story 2] that accidentally deleted the movie from the render farm," producer Mark Nielsen told reporters. "And that was the command on the computer that they pressed that deleted the film."
Those few keystrokes, rm -r -f *, effectively "removes everything on the file system as fast as it can." (97 likely is a nod to the year the sequel went into production.) As luck would have it, the film's supervising technical director, Galyn Susman, had left for maternity leave but had taken a copy of the film to work on from home.
"She had a backup of the film on her computer," Nielsen recalled. "So, they backed [up] the whole thing, and they brought it back to Pixar from her computer that she had at home and restored it."
"She had to run in, crack the code and undo it," producer Jonas Rivera added. "But Toy Story 2 was almost erased."
The Easter egg coincides with the 20-years-in-the-making comeback of Bo Peep (voiced by Annie Potts), who was last seen in Toy Story 2 in 1999. In this film, Woody unexpectedly crosses paths with a whole new Bo and discovers that the porcelain shepherdess is not only surviving as a lost toy, but thriving.
"I guess we thought it was appropriate, somehow," Rivera said. "That the license plate on the car that takes Bo away almost killed Toy Story 2."