Could you imagine a world without all the adventures of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and crew? What if the story ended after the first movie, and we never got to see the toys find their way back to Andy’s? A resurfaced story reminds us just how close we came to not having anymore Toy Story adventures – and how a mom on maternity leave literally saved the franchise.
Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story, which opened in 1995, was a major hit. The characters were wildly loved, and it wasn’t surprising when it was announced a Toy Story 2 was on the way. However, panic set in just before the movie was set to release. In 1998, Oren Jacob, an associate technical director for the movie, sat down to watch a cut of the film. Unfortunately, there was a significant issue – the movie was literally disappearing before his eyes.
“Unfortunately, someone on the system had run the command at the root level of the Toy Story 2 project, and the system was recursively tracking down through the file structure and deleting its way out like a worm eating its way out from the core of an apple,” Oren told The Next Web in 2012.
He was sitting with Larry Cutler, another technical director for Pixar at the time, and the two panicked. “He looked at the directory, and it had like 40 files, and he looked again, and it had four files,” Oren said. “Then we saw sequences start to vanish.”
They realized the movie was being deleted off the company’s servers after a command that was executed that they couldn’t undo. So the whole film was essentially gone before their eyes. Hundreds of hours of work they may not be able to recover from to get the movie out.
The backup of the film was unusable, too, thanks to a separate issue. Thankfully, one employee, who was out on maternity leave, saved the entire movie. Galyn Susman, the Supervising Technical Director of the film at the time, was off work on maternity leave.
Galyn had been given a company computer to work at home while she was caring for her newborn on maternity leave. That computer had the only viable copy of the movie. And the movie was saved, and we not only got Toy Story 2 but 3 and 4 – and now Lightyear.
The story resurfaced recently when Chris Albon tweeted it out and reminded people that Galyn Susman is why we have the movie franchise. “Someone at Pixar deleted all of Toy Story 2 and the backup hadn’t worked for a month, and the only reason we saw that movie was b/c someone on maternity leave had a copy of it on her home computer,” he wrote. “Her name is Galyn Susman and she is now the producer for the new Lightyear movie!”
Lightyear is scheduled to hit theaters later this summer.