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'Toy Story 4' to hit theaters in 2017

The lovable characters of

The lovable characters of "Toy Story" will star in a Halloween version of the movie franchise tonight on ABC. Credit: MCT

Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the "Toy Story" gang will be hitting the big screen again. Disney Pixar Thursday announced plans for "Toy Story 4," slated for release on June 16, 2017.

John Lasseter, director of the original "Toy Story and "Toy Story 2" will direct the film, Rashida Jones and Wil McCormack ("Celeste and Jesse Forever") will join the writing team and Galyn Susman, of ABC's "Toy Story OF TERROR!" and "Toy Story that Time Forgot" is producing.

"We love these characters so much; they are like family to us," Lasseter said in a recent Disney news release. "We don't want to do anything with them unless it lives up to or surpasses what's gone before. 'Toy Story 3' ended Woody and Buzz's story with Andy so perfectly that for a long time, we never even talked about doing another 'Toy Story' movie. But when Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter and Lee Unkrich, [the storytellers who have been the driving force behind all three movies] and I came up with this new idea, I just could not stop thinking about it. It was so exciting to me, I knew we had to make this movie -- and I wanted to direct it myself."

"Toy Story 3" became the highest-grossing animated film of all time in 2010. "Frozen" knocked it off the top spot this year.

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