Think back to the days when there was a real possibility that Pixar would leave the Disney family due to bad feelings created when executives at Disney attempted to push the boys from Emeryville around. It was pretty touch and go there for awhile, but Disney execs felt they held a trump card that would bring Pixar back to the negotiation table no matter how hard they pushed.
That trump card was the rights to produce a third Toy Story film apart from Pixar. Eisner knew that John Lasseter and his team felt that only they could do justice to the Toy Story characters and he was willing to hold that project hostage to get his way.
To make that threat real, Disney started up a stealth label called Circle Seven, where select producers, artists, and screenwriters were hired to develop a third Toy Story film. Bob Hildenburg & Rob Muir were hired to work on one version of a script for Toy Story 3. It has a lot of similarities with the version that eventually came out of Pixar, but also went in a completely different direction. Bob & Rob talk about the script and post some of the concept art in their latest “now it can be told” blog post. Definitely fun to read.
Since that aborted attempt, Bob & Rob have worked on the last Tinkerbell film and the upcoming “Mars Needs Moms” among other projects for Disney.
In the end it took a regime change at the house of mouse to get Pixar back to the table. Hindsight now shows that Iger’s magical purchase (or merger depending on who you ask) with Pixar for $7 billion was a great deal for Disney. Pixar not only continues to pump out the billion dollar hits, but it’s brain trust has finally set Disney Animation on the right path with Tangled. But it sure will be an interesting chapter or two in the history books.