Despite Toy Story 3 wrapping everything up in a neat little package and putting it away, Pixar isn’t finished with Woody and Buzz and all of their other little marketing machines from the franchise. While no new Toy Story feature has been announced (and I think to make one would be a mistake), there are some shorts featuring the characters that will be attached to upcoming films.

It was first reported that the short attached to this summer’s Pixar movie Cars 2 would feature the Toy Story characters, and would be about the gang creating a tropical paradise for Barbie after she is left home during a Hawaiian vacation.

Today it has been announced that yet another Toy Story short is being produced, this time to be attached to The Muppets, which is coming out in the fall.

In the past Pixar has been a company that seemed reticent to go for those sequel dollars, instead focusing on creating original stories. The Toy Story films were the lone exception to that rule. With Cars 2 being put out this year and Monsters Inc. 2 being announced for 2012, we may be seeing a shift in that strategy. I have no problem with the Toy Story characters being revisited in shorts, I think it could be a nice treat for fans, but I believe the real story of those characters has come to a natural conclusion and to make another feature would feel like a lazy cash grab. And I have no problem with them doing other sequels, in general, but I can’t help but wonder what original scripts might have taken a backseat to push forward Cars 2 and Monsters Inc. 2. I don’t begrudge anyone the right to a successful franchise, but I hope Pixar holds strong to its standards of quality and creativity and doesn’t start coasting on past success.

And what does it say that a Pixar short is being attached to The Muppets, a non-Pixar film? Is this a trend that will continue into the future, or a one off thing? Could this be the beginning of a strategy to combat home theater systems and digital content delivery? Might we see cinemas returning to their roots by presenting a package of shorts and serials along with a feature to try and lure customers out of their homes? That would be pretty cool in my book. The advancement of things like cable TV crushed the original studio system and replaced it with the big media conglomerates we have now. With recent announcements of theater chains starting their own production companies we may begin to see a strange set of circumstances where further advancing technology now forces Hollywood to revert back to their original system. How poetic.

But enough rambling: Do you all welcome these Toy Story shorts or turn your noses up at them?

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