Pixar’s Lightyear–the first movie from the studio to get a theatrical release from Disney since Onward–opened this weekend to an estimated $51 million, Deadline is reporting. While still a respectable number, that’s respectively less than where tracking had it, with some overly optimistic projections having it as high as $85 million.
As is always the case in a post-2020 world, the box office has become an increasingly unpredictable game. However, it Lightyear’s case, there were at least some factors playing against that go well beyond any concerns moviegoers may have had about the pandemic. From its first announcement, this has been a confusing product to sell, initially seeming like it was about the “real spaceman” who inspired the Buzz Lightyear toy that Andy got, before turning into a science-fiction actioner, which then turned into “the movie that Andy saw in 1995”–a title card that actually appears at the start of the film!
This arguably only created more questions for audiences, as Lightyear looks less like a 90s blockbuster in the spirit of Independence Day and more like…well, a film that came out in 2022. Also worth noting is that this is one of Pixar’s most expensive movies to date, with a reported production budget of $200 million. So while a debut of $50 million+ is certainly nothing to sneeze at, it has to be less than Disney was hoping for. And with Lightyear expected to arrive on Disney+ just 45 days after its release date in theaters, that makes the chances of it gaining legs a lot less likely.
What does have legs is Jurassic World: Dominion, which lead the weekend with $58 million. Despite some much-publicized negative reviews, audiences love themselves some good dino-stomping, and Dominion marks the third time in a row that the World series has overperformed projections. It has a current total of $249 million.
Final figures are due tomorrow.