To infinity and beyond? Not exactly. “Lightyear,” a Pixar spinoff of the “Toy Story” universe, didn’t make it that far in its box office debut, grossing just $51 million in North American theaters.
Families, the film’s main audience, have been away from theaters since Covid-19. But even so, that box office is disappointing for a strong brand like Pixar, home of “The Incredibles,” “Finding Nemo” and “Up.” It’s especially problematic because the production of “Lightyear” cost $200 million, plus tens of millions more in advertising.
Ahead of the weekend, the film was expected to generate at least $70 million, but its ambitions were thwarted by fierce competition from Universal’s “Jurassic World: Dominion” and ” Top Gun: Maverick” by Paramount.
Also weighed down was the lack of curiosity to watch a somewhat esoteric origin story about Buzz Lightyear, which has a merely tenuous connection to the four films in the popular franchise that kids love. With its tentative take-off, “Lightyear” landed in second place, one of the rare Pixar films to fail to top the North American box office.
“Lightyear” is Pixar’s first film on the big screen in more than two years, since “Two Brothers: A Fantastic Journey” in March 2020. During the pandemic, three Pixar films — “Soul”, “Luca” and ” Red: Growing Up is a Beast” — skipped theaters and jumped straight into Disney+, leaving some box office pundits wondering whether consumers were trained to watch Pixar movies at home.
Even with a massive 60% decline, “Jurassic World: Dominion” managed to win the box office again. Universal’s prehistoric sequel generated $58.6 million in its second weekend, taking a total of $259 million at the domestic box office.
In third place, “Top Gun: Maverick” continues to fly high with $44 million in North America. This box office return, down 15% from the previous one, is especially significant given that the film has been in theaters for a month.