The Kingdom Hearts 3 collaboration between Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios and Square Enix almost didn’t work out. According to a Pixar creative director, the Toy Story-themed world initially saw some pushback from most higher-up executives.
In a new MinnMax interview, Pixar’s creative director of theme parks Tasha Sounart explained how leadership without much gaming knowledge wasn’t too keen on the idea. “When you pitch the idea of Kingdom Hearts, it sounds really weird,” said Sounart. “And so they’re just like, ‘I don’t think we should do this.'”
However, the creative director said the studio is always looking for ways to maintain its appeal with older and newer fans alike, presenting an opportunity for her to pitch the idea. And, thankfully, Sounart’s pitch worked out — giving us that incredible what-the-hell moment where Toy Story‘s Woody confronts Kingdom Hearts villain Xehanort. Easily one of the best scenes in the series. You can check out MinnMax’s entire segment on the development tale below.
It’s not the first time we’ve heard about the Kingdom Hearts partnership that almost didn’t happen. Back in 2019, IGN interviewed Kingdom Hearts director Tetsuya Nomura, who explained how both Pixar’s and his attention to detail occasionally clashed. According to Nomura, he wanted Sora to be a canonical piece of the Toy Story world but saw pushback on the idea. Eventually, Pixar agreed to set the Kingdom Hearts world between the events of Toy Story 2 and 3.
Looking back, the Toy Story ‘lore’ debate has a far easier solution in Sounart’s MinnMax interview approach, too. When asked about the events of Kingdom Hearts being canonical to the Toy Story universe, Sounart referred to it as a “parallel universe,” but that doesn’t explain this suspiciously Keyblade lookin’ key. Where are our Toy Story lore scholars at?
Despite back-and-forths over what fits where and how, Pixar movies and characters saw plenty of screentime in Kingdom Hearts 3. In addition to Toy Story, best-Pixar-film Monsters Inc. also got its own world, and Ratatouille‘s Remy also popped in. After the April reveal of Kingdom Hearts 4, perhaps there’s a chance we’ll see more Pixar favorites like Turning Red, Up, or Coco. I wasn’t too thrilled myself with the third game, but if y’all put that sad Up business in a Kingdom Hearts level, I’ll probably bite.