You’ve still got a friend in Toy Story as university prepares for conference

CRMCS researchers Michael Shaftoe, left, and Sam Summers
CRMCS researchers Michael Shaftoe, left, and Sam Summers
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What started with a toy astronaut and cowboy has spent the last two decades entertaining parents and children across the globe.

In honour of Toy Story’s 20th anniversary, Sunderland University is hosting a two-day conference focusing on the animation’s success, its influence on other mainsteam animation and its impact on the cartoon franchise.

“Toy Story at 20” will open on November 12 with a screening of the film at Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema.

There will then be a keynote presentation by Professor Paul Wells, and a day-long conference the next day.

It will be opened by Dr Peter Kramer, with a panel of experts exploring a wide range of themes.

Sam Summers, conference co-organiser and researcher at the University’s Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies, said: “This is the first major UK conference focussed entirely on Toy Story.

“Twenty years on we felt it was time to look back on this film and evaluate exactly what kind of influence Toy Story has had and why it’s important to so many people.”

The film, which was released in 1995 and featured Tom Hanks and Tim Allen in main roles Woody and Buzz Lightyear, went on to earn more than $361 million worldwide. It was also nominated for three Academy Awards.

Woody, Buzz, Hamm, Slinky and the Potato Heads went on to charm the hearts of younger audiences, as well as faithful fans, in Toy Story 2 (1999) and Toy Story 3 (2010).

Toy Story 4 is rumoured for release in 2017.

For more information email The conference will be held at the David Puttnam Media Centre, Sir Tom Cowie Campus, St Peter’s.