Infinity isn’t a practical milestone at the box office, so Disney’s “Lightyear” will have to settle for a $20.5 million opening day and beyond.
Pixar’s spinoff of its “Toy Story” franchise blasted off on Thursday night with a respectable $5.2 million from preview screenings. However, the film is now tracking to come in below initial expectations, which initially pegged the film for a debut between $70 million and $80 million from 4,255 theaters in North America. What’s more, “Lightyear” is struggling to unseat Universal’s “Jurassic World Dominion” from the top slot on domestic charts during the dino-sequel’s sophomore weekend.
There’s certainly winning ways to look at the “Lightyear” opening, as its projected $52 million opening would quite easily mark the highest debut for an animated movie since the onset of the pandemic in North America. Family audiences have been somewhat skittish to return to the big screen as multiplexes have reopened, which had led Disney to rethink its release strategy, opting out of theatrical runs for Pixar’s subsequent three animated features — “Soul,” “Luca” and “Turning Red” — and instead debuting them directly on the company’s streamer Disney+ to bolster subscriptions. After spending more than two years away from theaters, a $52 million opening would show that Pixar still has a place on the big screen.
However, it’s not difficult to imagine that Disney was looking to make a bigger splash with “Lightyear.” The spin-off may not even net half of the $120.9 million opening of 2019’s “Toy Story 4,” even though the sci-fi film is a spinoff of Pixar’s crown jewel franchise.
With a hefty $200 million production budget, “Lightyear” has a ways to go before landing itself securely in the black. The film looks to gain an extra bump from family audiences through Saturday matinees and Father’s Day business on Sunday. Critics have generally been favorable, as the film scored a 61% aggregate approval percentage from top critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences seem to like the movie too, with “Lightyear” netting an “A-” grade on Cinema Score, indicating generally strong approval.
“Lightyear” focuses on the origin of the Buzz Lightyear character, who was first in a movie before being made into the action-figure who befriended Woody in “Toy Story.” Within “Toy Story” canon, the character Andy saw “Lightyear” and procured a Buzz Lightyear toy as merchandise. Now, the public of our world can see the movie that lit Andy’s imagination ablaze.
Chris Evans takes over the voice role from originator Tim Allen, and the movie also stars the voices of Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, James Brolin, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, Uzo Aduba, Mary McDonald-Lewis, Efren Ramirez and Isiah Whitlock Jr.
Should the current projections for “Lightyear” hold, “Jurassic World Dominion” could be primed to repeat as the apex predator of the domestic box office.
“Top Gun: Maverick,” which dominated in its Memorial Day weekend debut, also continues to cruise along smoothly.
More to come…
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