Lightyear, Pixar’s new Toy Story spin-off which was released in the US on Friday, has disappointed on its opening weekend.
According to Variety, Lightyear brought in $51 million from 4,255 North American theatres, despite expectations that ticket sales would hit $70 million to $85 million. The film’s budget was reportedly close to $200 million.
For comparison, 2010’s Toy Story 3 earned $110 million during its opening weekend, while 2019’s Toy Story 4 topped $120 million in its domestic debut weekend. Both are among the highest-grossing animated films of all time, sitting at the sixth and seventh spot.
The drop in sales could in part be down to cinema habits that remain changed after the pandemic.
Family audiences still haven’t returned to theatres in full force, Variety says, but other films that appeal to similar viewers have done well recently, including Jurassic World Dominion (which brought in a whopping $145 million over its first weekend) so Lightyear might not be able to hang too tightly onto this excuse.
Despite staggered release dates, Lightyear was competing over the weekend with the latest film in the Jurassic Park franchise as well as Top Gun: Maverick, which came out on May 27.
The Top Gun sequel pulled in $126 million over its debut weekend, which was Tom Cruise’s biggest ever box office debut, a massive feat given Cruise’s past films: think The Mummy, Mission Impossible, Jack Reacher and Day and Knight.
Lightyear is set up as the film that inspired the Buzz Lightyear toy line. It tells the story of Buzz Lightyear, who goes on an adventure with his friends Izzy, Mo, Darby, and robot Sox. There are difficult missions, an evil Zurg and a nefarious robot army.
The Toy Story spin-off stars Chris Evans as Buzz, Taika Waititi as Mo Morrison, James Brolin as Zurg and Keke Palmer as Izzy Hawthorne. Although Lightyear was Angus MacLane’s directorial debut, MacLane has worked on major Pixar films in the past, including Soul, Toy Story 2,3 and 4, WALL-E, Up and Ratatouille.
This year Pixar also released Turning Red, a fantasy comedy about a giant red panda. The animation, which was released on the Disney+ streaming service and at limited theatres, brought in $19.5 million worldwide since its March release and had a budget of $175 million.
Pixar has a long track record of international hits – after all, it’s the studio that brought the world The Incredibles, Up and Finding Nemo.