'Toy Story 4' set for 2017 release

Ceator John Lasseter will be back in the director's chair for the next installment of the popular franchise.

Toy Story character's Buzz Lightyear and Woody. Picture: Toy Story Facebook page.

LOS ANGELES - Walt Disney Co said on Thursday it will extend one of Pixar's most successful film franchises by making Toy Story 4 for release in 2017, directed by John Lasseter.

"John created Toy Story and directed its first two films and it's great to have him back directing one of our most valuable properties," Disney chief executive Bob Iger said on an earnings call.

Iger called 2010's Toy Story 3 a "tremendous success" with more than $1 billion at the global box office and $10 billion in retail sales.

He said that demonstrated that "these wonderful characters are clearly just as relevant and beloved as ever."

Toy Story was the first feature film made by Pixar Animation Studios, in 1995, and gave the famous animated characters Woody, the toy cowboy, and space ranger Buzz Lightyear a prominent place in pop culture.

The first instalment made $362 million at the global box office, while Toy Story 2 brought in $485 million.

Disney bought Pixar in 2006 in a deal worth $7.4 billion.