Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear in Pixar’s “Lightyear.”
Pixar’s “Lightyear” hit a domestic opening of $51 million, the best performance by an animated feature since the pandemic began.
At the international level, the disney the film totaled $34.6 million in ticket sales, bringing its worldwide revenue to $85.6 million.
The animated film’s performance, while solid for a pandemic release, fell short of expectations. Box office analysts had predicted that “Lightyear” would gross between $70 million and $85 million domestically.
Expectations were high as the last two films in the Toy Story franchise both opened to over $100 million in ticket sales, according to Comscore data. “Toy Story 4” in 2019 surpassed $120 million when it debuted domestically, and “Toy Story 3” generated over $110 million when it opened in 2010.
“‘Lightyear’ had a lot of potential on paper, but a number of factors led to this very rare box office miss for a Pixar release,” said Shawn Robbins, chief media analyst at BoxOffice.com.
It is unclear whether the tough box office competition with Universal “Jurassic World: Dominion,” which generated $58.6 million over the weekend, and Primordial and Skydance’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” which earned an additional $44 million, was the reason for “Lightyear”‘s smaller-than-expected opening or if consumers were confused about the film’s release.
After all, there hasn’t been a theatrical release of a Pixar movie since 2020’s “Onward.” The animation studio’s final three, “Soul,” “Luca,” and “Turning Red,” are all released on the Disney+ streaming service.
“Was the film opened to a market that was too crowded with male films?” Robbin asked. “Was the marketing ineffective in pitching the idea for this movie to two generations of Toy Story fans? Has Disney’s strategy of siphoning off Pixar movies straight to streaming over the past couple of years backfired and hurt the value of the brand?
“These are just some of the valid questions that we, and in particular Disney, need to consider,” he said.
Robbins noted that cinema has clearly rebounded in 2022, attracting demographics that were reluctant to return before. Yet one of the most trusted franchises of the pre-pandemic era has fallen short of expectations.
“It was a good old-fashioned summer vacation movie weekend that saw three films earn over $40 million as the competition for moviegoers’ attention intensifies,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “Newcomer ‘Lightyear’ will now build on a longer trajectory in theaters following a debut album that left some disappointed.”
Dergarabedian said word of mouth should help draw families to theaters in the coming weeks ahead of Universal’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru” release.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal is the distributor of “Jurassic World: Dominion” and “Minions: The Rise of Gru”.