It's been 11 years since the mega-sequel "Toy Story 2" hit the screens. Eleven years since we've seen Woody, Buzz and the gang on the big screen.
As "Toy Story 3" presents that rare combination of box-office might and critical kudos, it poses the question -- what took so long?
Director Lee Unkrich blames the long 'Toy Story" layoff on corporate friction between Pixar and Disney, which was distributor of the films at the time.
"We had an idea of the third, right after we finished the second," Unkrich said at the "Toy Story 3" press day. "I remember right after we finished I was at ("Toy Story 2" director) John Lasseter's house and he put his arm around me and said, 'Let's do it right now. Let's make it three.'"
"He was ready to go and we had an idea that he thought was pretty cool."
But due to complex Disney and Pixar issues, the project was stalled until Disney bought Pixar four years ago.
"Those issues went away and we were finally able to make it."
The old idea for the story proved outdated when the Pixar crew gathered for a two-day "Toy Story" brainstorming offsite.
"Within 20 minutes we had shot it down," said Unkrich. He declined to say what the old idea was, but did make it clear that the crew started the story from "nothing."
"But we had the idea of Andy growing up," Unkrich said. "This allowed us to think long and hard about what it would be like when it comes to that day as a toy when your owner is leaving you. It seemed like the right emotional place to set the story."
The movie does feature a flashback to better times with the toys. "We call it 'the golden age,' " said Unkrich. "It's the summer following 'Toy Story 2.' It's the golden age of the life of the toys. This was the white hot center when the toys were the most important thing to Andy."
Sadly, those days end pretty quick. The toys, even Woody, start off their present life neglected in the toy box. Until the adventures really begin.