John Lasseter, the Pixar chief who changed the animation game forever with Toy Story in 1995, will direct the fourth instalment in the adventures of Woody, Buzz and Co for release on June 16, 2017.

Toy Story 3The Toy Story 3 guys are coming back for a fourth outing

In a nice twist that will please fans of Parks & Recreation, Rashida Jones has been tasked with writing the movie with her screenwriting partner Will McCormack (the pair last worked on 2012 indie comedy Celeste and Jesse Forever).

The overall storyline outline, however, has been developed by Lasseter, Finding Nemo's Andrew Stanton, Up's Peter Docter and Toy Story 3's Lee Unkrich. 

More: the sad truth about Andy's Dad in Toy Story

Disney chief Bob Iger announced the news in a quarterly earnings call to investors on Thursday afternoon but did not confirm whether Tom Hanks, Tim Allen or Joan Cusack would be returning. We're willing to bet that Toy Story 4 would not be made without them.

Toy Story 4Toy Story is regarded by many as the finest trilogy ever made

As it stands, the Toy Story movies are regarded as the perfect trilogy - untouchable in the world of family animation, though Lasseter has moved to calm any simmering worries about a fourth outing.

"We love these characters so much, they are like family to us," he wrote. "We don't want to do anything with them unless it lives up to or surpasses what's gone before."

Lasseter acknowledged that Toy Story 3, "ended Woody and Buzz's story with Andy so perfectly that for a long time, we never even talked about doing another Toy Story movie. But when Andrew, Pete, Lee and I came up with this new idea, I just could not stop thinking about it. It was so exciting to me, I knew we had to make this movie - and I wanted to direct it myself."

More: watch the Toy Story 3 trailer