Docter, who directed the likes of Up, Monster's Inc and Inside Out for Pixar before becoming the company's CCO, discussed the film not living up to expectations in a new interview with The Wrap.
Asked about what went wrong with Lightyear which was said to be the story of the astronaut the iconic toy is based on, Docter said: “We love the characters and the premise. I think probably what we’ve ended on in terms of what went wrong is that we asked too much of the audience."
He continued: "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?'
"Even if they’ve read the material in press, it was just a little too distant, both in concept, and I think in the way that characters were drawn, that they were portrayed.”
Docter also admitted there was a gulf between what Lightyear was and what the audience expected: "Angus [MacLane, the director], to his credit, took it very seriously and genuinely and wanted to represent those characters as real characters.
"But the characters in Toy Story are much broader, and so I think there was a disconnect between what people wanted/expected and what we were giving to them.”
Infamously, Lightyear had a hard time explaining its own premise with star Chris Evans at one point tweeting: “And just to be clear this isn’t Buzz Lightyear the toy, this is the origin of the human Buzz Lightyear that the toy is based on.”
Lightyear was a box-office bomb, grossing only $226 million worldwide becoming the second worst performing Pixar film after Onward which was released at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Watch below: Tim Allen returns as voice of Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story 5.