'Toy Story 4' Will Be The First Pixar Movie In Decades To Not Feature An Animated Short

For more than two decades, Pixar provided two rare constants: high-quality animated films that appealed to kids and adults, and envelope-pushing animated shorts that would air right before those films in theaters. But now, over 20 years after Pixar debuted its Oscar-winning Geri's Game in front of A Bug's Life in 1998, the animation studio is breaking tradition with Toy Story 4, which will not feature a preceding Pixar short film.

Slate reports that Pixar is breaking its own long-held tradition of airing an animated short film in front of its next feature film, Toy Story 4. That makes it the first Pixar movie to hit theaters without a preceding short film since the original Toy Story in 1995, though that was later paired with the Oscar-winning short Tin Toy on its home video releases.

This feels like the end of an era that was kicked off with A Bug's Life in 1998, which began this honored tradition with the accompanying Geri's Game, the Oscar-winning 5-minute short that told a charming story of an old man playing chess against himself in the park in boundary-pushing CGI animation. Since then, all Pixar films have followed the tradition of featuring a short film, which have ranged from hilarious (Partly Cloudy, ahead of Up), enchanting (Piper, ahead of Finding Dory), to emotionally devastating (the most recent Oscar-winner, Bao that showed in front of Incredibles 2). These shorts were often vehicles for rising filmmakers to show their chops or for Pixar to test out new technology — the one exception being the patience-testing Olaf's Frozen Adventure, whose 21 painstaking minutes resulted in a disastrous move to pull the "short" from in front of Coco.

But a new era of experimental short filmmaking is beginning at Pixar that may explain this breaking of tradition. The experimental program SparkShorts, which is designed to cultivate new creative voices inside and outside of Pixar, has proven to be quite a success — with several of its films even being shown in theaters. Those shorts are all made available on YouTube, which is where most people head to watch the Pixar shorts they missed while going off to buy popcorn anyway.

Toy Story 4 hits theaters on June 21, 2019.