Resurfaced tale details how Toy Story 2 was saved after being deleted – twice

‘Backups MATTER, people. Do them. Test them,’ warned one commenter

Lightyear trailer

The story of how a Pixar employee accidentally deleted the entire Toy Story 2 film has resurfaced, as fans look forward to the franchise’s spin-off movie Lightyear.

In 1998, Pixar was getting ready to release Toy Story 2. The film was nearly complete and final edits were being made. But when someone hit the wrong button, the movie’s files began to disappear.

Oren Jacob, the former chief technical officer at Pixar, was an assistant technical director on the movie. In 2012, he told the story of how he watched on helplessly as Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mr Potato Head, Hamm and Rex vanished before his eyes.

“The command that had been run was most likely ‘rm -r -f *’, which – roughly speaking – commands the system to begin removing every file below the current directory,” he told The Next Web.

“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.”

Jacob and Galyn Susman, who was the supervising technical director at the time, then discovered that the back-up files had failed to work for the past month.

Luckily, Susman had been working from home a lot because she had a newborn baby, so the team realised it was possible that she could have a more recent back-up on her home computer.

‘Toy Story 2’

Jacob and Susman jumped into her Volvo and drove to her house to retrieve the computer. They heaved it out to the car and carefully placed it in the back seat, cushioning it with blankets and strapping it in tightly with seatbelts.

“Eight people met us with a plywood sheet out in the [Pixar] parking lot and, like a sedan carrying the Pharaoh, walked it into the machine room,” recalled Jacob.

Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

Thankfully, a two-week old back-up was found on Susman’s computer and the film was saved.

But there was another twist. After all the efforts to save Toy Story 2, most of the original version of the film ended up being chucked out anyway. Bosses didn’t think the movie was good enough and it was remade.

“Effectively all animation was tossed,” said Jacob in the interview. “Effectively, all layout was tossed. So all camera work would start from scratch. Lighting was in the film a little bit, but that was tossed as well. We had to build new characters.

“So at that point, Buster showed up. And that character went from being out to being in the screenplay to in the final screen in nine months.

“That’s a fully animated quadruped… On the fly. And most of the humans in the film and show. All the background extras in the airport at the end.”

He added: “They were all built and assembled then. And all the effects work was added to the film. The opening of the film, which is Buzz playing with the robots, which I spent a lot of my time working on, where Buzz blows up a quarter-million robots with that crystal… that explosion. That was all added in that pitch as well. It started from ground zero…

“That was probably one of the biggest tests of what Pixar was as a company and a culture we ever went through.”

The story of Toy Story 2’s near-demise was resurfaced by Twitter user Chris Albon this week, and many have been pointing to the deletion incident as a cautionary tale to always make several back-ups.

“Not as uncommon as you might think… scary s***,” tweeted one person.

“Backups MATTER, people. Do them. Test them,” added another.

“A Mom saving the day..... A tale as old as time,” posted a third.

Now, 24 years on, Susman is the producer of Lightyear, which will tell the story of Buzz Lightyear and his adventures to – you guessed it – infinity and beyond.

The first full trailer for Lightyear was released earlier this month.

Chris Evans is voicing the character, who, in the film, is an astronaut who inspired the Buzz toy in the Toy Story franchise.

Still from the ‘Lightyear’ trailer

Following the announcement of Lightyear, Evans was forced to clarify what the film was about, following confusion from fans.

“Just to be clear, this isn’t Buzz Lightyear the toy. This is the origin story of the human Buzz Lightyear that the toy is based on,” he said.

Joining Evans in Lightyear are Keke Palmer, Taika Waititi, Uzo Aduba, James Brolin and Isiah Whitlock Jr.

Lightyear will arrive in June 2022, although it’s currently unclear whether that will be in cinemas or on Disney+.

It was recently announced that Pixar’s next film, Turning Red, would be released exclusively on its streaming service.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in