Pixar Fires Company Savior Who Rescued ‘Toy Story 2’

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The toys gather around a "Welcome home Andy" sign at the end of 'Toy Story 2'

Credit: Pixar Studios

Toy Story 2 (1999) is renowned as one of Pixar’s best films – yet the company just fired the employee responsible for its existence.

Back in the 1990s, theatrical animated sequels weren’t as commonplace as they are today. That’s why, when Disney asked Pixar to produce a follow-up to its box-office smash Toy Story (1995), it started producing a direct-to-video tale that rapidly outgrew its small screen intentions.

The characters of 'Toy Story 2' gathered together
Credit: Pixar

But the making of Toy Story 2 did not run smoothly. While Disney upgraded the film to a theatrical release, Pixar animators were forced to work around the clock to meet its tight deadlines. With production already strained, it didn’t help when one of the animators accidentally deleted the root folder of Toy Story 2 on Pixar’s internal servers. The team quickly shut down the file servers but ultimately lost 90% of their work.

Thankfully, that’s where Galyn Susman came in. The Supervising Technical Director – who had been working from home to take care of her newborn child –  saved the day when she revealed she had a backup copy of the film on her home computer. Pixar was ultimately able to recover nearly all of the assets, giving them the green light to proceed.

The Luxo lamp and ball on the grounds of Pixar Animation
Credit: Pixar

Pixar ended up rehashing the entirety of Toy Story 2 in an unprecedented nine months when John Lasseter declared it didn’t meet the studio’s standard of quality. However, Susman’s efforts still saved the company priceless time, effort, and money.

This story has become the stuff of Pixar legend, retold by Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull in his book “Creativity Inc.” That’s why fans were shocked to hear that Susman was one of the 75 Pixar employees laid off from the studio on May 25.

After Toy Story 2, Susman went on to work on the likes of Ratatouille (2007), Toy Story 4 (2019), and Lightyear (2022). Ultimately, the latter is what likely led to her dismissal from Pixar, with the company culling multiple long-time employees who worked on the project.

Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) in 'Lightyear'
Credit: Disney/Pixar

Outsiders have put this down to the film’s failure at the box office, where it reportedly lost Disney around $106 million. Lightyear could not be shown in 14 Middle Eastern and Asian countries due to its depiction of a same-sex relationship, which had a big impact on its performance.

The Pixar layoffs also included Lightyear director Angus MacLane, an animator who spent 26 years at the studio and was part of the senior creative team on Toy Story 4 (2019) and Coco (2017). These were the studio’s most significant layoffs in over a decade.

Considering the fact that fans have long called out both Disney and Pixar’s habit of relying on sequels, this doesn’t seem like a fault of the Pixar employees involved but the higher-up decisions that led to Lightyear‘s failure. It’s next film, Elemental (2023), has also been projected for commercial failure. Scapegoating long-time employees solves the Lightyear problem, yes. But the real cause of Pixar’s dwindling box office prowess is a much deeper problem – one that needs the studio’s most experienced creatives more than ever.

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