Toy Story 2 is a 1999 American computer-animated comedy film directed by John Lasseter and produced by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney Pictures. It is the second installment in the Toy Story franchise and the sequel to Toy Story (1995). In the film, Woody is stolen by a toy collector, prompting Buzz Lightyear and his friends to rescue him, but Woody is then tempted by the idea of immortality in a museum. Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Jim Varney, Annie Potts, R. Lee Ermey, John Morris, and Laurie Metcalf all reprise their character roles from the original film. The returning cast is joined by Joan Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Estelle Harris, Wayne Knight, and Jodi Benson, who voice the new characters introduced in this film.
Disney initially envisioned Toy Story 2 as a direct-to-video sequel. The film began production in a building separated from Pixar, on a small scale, as most of the main Pixar staff were busy working on A Bug's Life (1998). When story reels proved promising, Disney upgraded the film to a theatrical release, but Pixar was unhappy with the film's quality. Lasseter and the story team redeveloped the entire plot in one weekend. Although most Pixar features take years to develop, the established release date could not be moved and the production schedule for Toy Story 2 was compressed into nine months.
Talk of a sequel to Toy Story began around a month after the film's opening, in December 1995. A few days after the film's release, John Lasseter was traveling with his family and found a young boy clutching a Sheriff Woody doll at an airport. Lasseter described how the boy's excitement to show it to his father touched him deeply. Lasseter realized that his character no longer belonged to him only, but rather it belonged to others, as well. The memory was a defining factor in the production of Toy Story 2, with Lasseter moved to create a great film for that child and for everyone else who loved the characters.
Ed Catmull, Lasseter, and Ralph Guggenheim visited Joe Roth, successor to recently ousted Jeffrey Katzenberg as chairman of Walt Disney Studios, shortly afterward. Roth was pleased and embraced the idea of a sequel. Disney had recently begun making direct-to-video sequels to its successful features, and Roth wanted to handle the Toy Story sequel this way, as well. Prior releases, such as 1994's Aladdin sequel, The Return of Jafar, had returned an estimated $100 million in profits.
Initially, everything regarding the sequel was uncertain at first: whether stars Tom Hanks and Tim Allen would be available and affordable, what the story premise would be, and even whether the film would be computer-animated at Pixar or traditionally hand-drawn at Walt Disney Feature Animation. Lasseter regarded the project as a chance to groom new directing talent, as top choices were already immersed in other projects (Andrew Stanton as co-director in A Bug's Life and Pete Docter as director of what would eventually become Monsters, Inc.). Instead, Lasseter turned to Ash Brannon, a young directing animator on Toy Story whose work he admired. Brannon, a CalArts graduate, joined the Toy Story team in 1993. Disney and Pixar officially announced the sequel in a press release on March 12, 1997.