“Variety” speculates on what led to disappointing Box Office for Disney’s “Lightyear”

A new piece in “Variety” by Rebecca Rubin speculates on what led to a disappointing opening Box office for Disney’s “Lightyear.”

The Disney / Pixar animated thriller fizzled at the box office with a disappointing weekend.

North American opened to an estimated $51 million box office.

This fell way below industry expectations of $70 million.

Worldwide, box office was $85.6 million according to Disney.

Pallotta writes “The opening is a disappointing launch for Pixar — one of the most successful and popular studios in all of Hollywood. The animation studio — which has produced hits including “Toy Story,” “The Incredibles” and “Finding Nemo” — has made $14.7 billion at the global box office.”

Rebecca Rubin writes for Variety – What Stopped Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ From Going to Infinity and Beyond at the Box Office?

She writes:

“[‘Lightyear’] is running into the limitations of the spin-off form,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “This is still elite business, it’s just no longer defying gravity.”

One of those constraints is that “Lightyear” had an unusually confusing premise, one that probably sounded a lot catchier in Buena Vista boardrooms than it did on the movie’s puzzling marketing materials. You know Andy’s favorite action-figure from “Toy Story”? No, not the cowboy voiced by Tom Hanks. The other one. Well, this is the movie about the fictional astronaut that (stay with us…) inspired the piece of plastic who later became best friends with Woody and Mr. Potato Head. Try explaining that to a 6-year-old. Heck, try explaining that to an adult. Except for the character itself, “Lightyear” had only a tenuous connection to the four films in the popular kid-friendly franchise. And in turn, nostalgia was not as potent a force as Disney may have imagined.

“[The film’s] marketing never made quite clear the connection to Andy’s favorite toy until the last second. And they’ve been marketing this movie for a while,” says Shawn Robbins, the chief analyst at Box Office Pro.

At the same time, Disney spent the last two years putting Pixar movies — “Soul” and “Turning Red” among them — directly on Disney+, which may have inadvertently conditioned people to expect to see the animation studio’s newest releases at home. “Lightyear,” the first Pixar movie to play on the big screen since “Onward” in March 2020, may have been singed by that pandemic-era experiment. Given muted word-of-mouth, “Lightyear” struggled to excite people to go to theaters in the same vein as, say, “Top Gun: Maverick” — a movie that could have relied on its status as a name-brand but also managed to more thoughtfully evolve the property.

“Disney has trained a lot of parents to expect Pixar movies at home,” Robbins says. “I wonder how much ‘Lightyear’ paid the price for that.”