“Lightyear” did not go to infinity (or beyond) in its first weekend in theatres as Pixar’s first major theatrical release since March 2020 blasted off with $51 million in its first weekend in North America, according to studio estimates.
Not only did it open lower than expected, but it also failed to conquer “Jurassic World: Dominion,” which held on to the first-place spot with $58.7 million at its second weekend.
It is a mixed bag for Disney and Pixar as “Lightyear,” an origin story about the movie that inspired the space ranger action figure in the “Toy Story” movies, is one of the biggest launches for an animated family film over the pandemic. Including international showings, which grossed $34.6 million, “Lightyear's” global opening weekend totals to $85.6 million.
But expectations were higher for a release this high-profile and based on a beloved character.
The family audience has proved a little more reluctant than other segments to return to movie theatres. Many studios, including Disney and Pixar, have opted for streaming or hybrid releases for their animated titles.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the company has sent its Pixar titles – “Soul,” “Luca,” and “Turning Red” – directly to Disney+ free for subscribers. Disney’s other big animated titles, “Raya and the Last Dragon” and “Encanto” got hybrid releases.
Favourable reviews from critics
Critics were mostly favourable to “Lightyear,” which features Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear and a supporting voice cast that includes Keke Palmer and Taika Waititi.
Directed by Angus MacLane, it currently holds a 77 percent critics score on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences gave it an A- CinemaScore.
“Jurassic World: Dominion,” meanwhile, has now earned over $622.2 million worldwide with $259.2 million of that coming from U.S. and Canadian theatres. It’s only the seventh movie released during the pandemic to surpass $600 million.
And in its fourth weekend, “Top Gun: Maverick” dropped only slightly, bringing in an additional $44 million. Its domestic total is now at $466.2 million. Globally, the high-flying sequel has grossed over $885 million.