When someone mentions Buzz Lightyear, Woody and the rest of the Toy Story gang show up in one’s mind. It’s unfathomable to see one without the other. So when the first trailer of Lightyear was released, people were left confused. Why make a movie with a Toy Story character without the other ones? This was the question everyone was asking in 2022. Pixar boss Pete Docter thinks these expectations were unrealistic and it was the fans who made the movie sink.
Pete Docter Gives His Views On Lightyear‘s Poor Box Office
On a budget of about $200 million, Lightyear made approximately $226 million globally. These are good numbers, but way below what’s expected from a franchise whose last movie, Toy Story 4, released in 2019, grossed more than a billion dollars at the box office. Pete Docter, a Pixar executive and thrice winner of the Best Animated Feature Oscar, says that fan expectations made the movie tank. In an interview with The Wrap, Docter said:
“When they hear Buzz, they’re like, great, where’s Mr. Potato Head and Woody and Rex? And then we drop them into this science fiction film that they’re like, What? I think in the way that characters were drawn, that they were portrayed. It was much more of a science fiction. I think there was a disconnect between what people wanted/expected and what we were giving to them.”
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Lightyear, released in 2022, is a Toy Story spinoff and turns the franchise into a new direction. Instead of exploring the toy Buzz Lightyear’s story, the movie humanized him and gave him the backstory of a Space Ranger. In the film, he went to investigate the happenings on a planet called T’Kani Prime. Apart from the titular hero, the film introduced brand new characters like a cat called Sox who is an AI therapist, a villain called Zurg, and more.
The movie was a brave attempt to do something different in the Toy Story franchise. But contrary to Docter’s views, fan expectations weren’t the only reason it failed. After all, if that was the case, the film wouldn’t have earned upwards of $200 million at the box office.
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Why Did Lightyear Flop At the Box Office?
Released on 17 June 2022, Lightyear’s underperformance can be pinned on several factors. For one, the movie faced way more competition than anyone could have originally predicted. Even though it had hoped to capitalize on the Father’s Day weekend, it failed to do so because two other behemoths were standing in front of it. One was Jurassic World: Dominion and the other was Top Gun: Maverick.
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Both films garnered the male audience that it was also aiming for. Moreover, the movie faced the stigma surrounding Pixar movies at that time. After all, before Lightyear, other Pixar movies like Soul, Luca, and Turning Red were all sent straight to the Disney+ streaming platform without a theatrical release. As such, audiences could have assumed that Pixar movies released in theaters weren’t must-watch events. Instead, they could be watched when they inevitably came on Disney+ after a short 45-day theater-to-streamer gap.
Overall, Docter is only partially right about fan expectations. Realistically, Lightyear’s failure was due to several factors that no one could have predicted.
Lightyear is streaming on Disney+
Source: The Wrap