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Pixar Executive Reflects on Box Office Mishap with Lightyear Solo Film

A Pixar executive recently shared his stance on why the spin-off film Lightyear struggled to find its footing with Toy Story fans.

Toy Story has become a dominant force for Disney's Pixar, earning more than three billion dollars in its box office run across four films — with the fourth entry being the biggest release to date. On top of that, the franchise has generated an animated series, several shorts, an upcoming fifth film (which is currently in development), and the recent spin-off film Lightyear, focusing on an in-universe character that inspired the creation of the fan-favorite toy. It's all very meta and layered for a family film concept, really.

Despite being a very popular and vast universe for Pixar to rely on, the 2022 film Lightyear barely managed to earn its massive $200 million budget back without even factoring in costly marketing expenses that can often double a film's needed threshold to actually earn a profit.

Pixar's Lightyear Is Coming To Disney+ On August 3rd
Lightyear Poster. © 2022 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

After struggling to find even a fourth of the current Toy Story audience, Pixar's CCO, Pete Docter is now offering his stance on why the film didn't connect with moviegoers in the same capacity. "We've done a lot of soul-searching about that because we all love the movie." Docter explained in a recent interview. "We love the characters and the premise. I think probably what we've ended on in terms of what went wrong is that we asked too much of the audience. When they hear Buzz, they're like, great, where's Mr. Potato Head and Woody and Rex? And then we drop them into this science fiction film that they're like, What?"

Lightyear Included a Concept Shift and Unfamiliar Stories

Elaborating on that notion, the Pixar creative then goes on to add, "Even if they've read the material in press, it was just a little too distant, both in concept, and I think in the way that characters were drawn, that they were portrayed. It was much more of a science fiction. And [director Angus MacLane, director], to his credit, took it very seriously and genuinely and wanted to represent those characters as real characters. But the characters in 'Toy Story' are much broader, and so I think there was a disconnect between what people wanted/expected and what we were giving to them."

Now that the film has had time to settle and earn more viewers across streaming and home video options, do you think Lightyear has the potential to gain a better reputation over time?

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Aedan JuvetAbout Aedan Juvet

A self-proclaimed pop culture aficionado with a passion for all things horror. Words for Cosmopolitan, Screen Rant, MTV News, NME, etc. For pitches, please email
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