When Lightyear came out in 2022, expectations ran relatively high, considering the astounding performance of Toy Story. However, the connection may have caused the most significant problem for fans; the audience significantly judged the concept based on the original Toy Story.
The movie got a reasonably decent audience; nevertheless, its underperformance was evident.
To bring you into context, Toy Story was the first Pixar film. The fully computer-animated story was released in 1995. In 2006, Pixar and Disney merged. It was not a new collaboration. Pixar has had all 26 feature films released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The films include standalone movies and sequels which left the audience thirsty for more, perhaps due to their emotional themes. With a long list of great films, it is almost impossible to believe that any Pixar movie could be close to incurring losses as Lightyear did.
Pixar Finally Speaks up on the Lightyear Flop
Eight months down the line, it was clear that Buzz Lightyear was not going to shine as other Pixar films did. In an interview with The Wrap, Pixar’s Executive, Pete Docter, expressed that the team had taken time to deliberate and understand the film’s performance.
Pete admitted there was a disconnect between what the audience wanted and what the film actually offered. He further explained that the main concept of the film didn’t fully emerge in the writing, and the characters that emerged didn’t resonate with film goers.
The Lightyear was more science fiction that what many fans were expecting, and the absence of most of Toy Story’s characters did not help with the audience’s reception. Docter appreciates that it was great to look back and explore the sci-fi scenes and the characters, but the story lacked a unique element or, as the Pixar boss puts it, a compelling reason for making the movie.
Lightyear’s lead star, Evans, previously gave his take on the movie. He revealed that even for him, getting into character and delving into the iteration of Buzz Lightyear was a challenge. He also spoke about the move by several Asian countries to ban the film due to its incorporation of gay themes.
Did Buzz’s Toy Story Mess It Up for Lightyear?
The Lightyear team may have seen this flop coming before the film hit theaters. At the first mention of Buzz, the film’s makers should have guessed that audiences would think of Toy Story and expect a connection.
Undeniably, Toy Story made a massive impact on the animated film industry; from the memorable characters to the timeless punch lines, it set the standard relatively high, so much from a movie about toys coming to life.
Lightyear does feature stunning visuals and incredible scenes. However, the movie sold to the audience was supposed to be a spin-off with an authentic touch and inspiration from the Toy Story films. The new venture would have been magnificent if it was not sold on the publicity of Toy Story. Pixar has done a great job of creating an enviable reputation for itself as one of the most remarkable animation studios. Unfortunately, Lightyear doesn’t live up to its hype. Pixar may not be used to disappointments, but it may have to chalk up Lightyear as one of them.
While Pixar’s efforts to joyride on Toy Story’s success is primarily to blame for Lightyear’s flop, there wasn’t a guarantee that it would have made it solo. The controversy over its gay scene may also have impacted its reception among audiences. Nonetheless, the film certainly would have had a better chance on the cinematic battlefield if it wasn’t hidden by the shadows of Toy Story.