Following its memorable box office bombing, a new report indicates that original Toy Story director John Lasseter is very critical of the Lightyear spinoff movie. Released in theaters this past June, the film explored the origin story of the figure that would go on to inspire Tim Allen’s beloved toy, with Chris Evans recast as Buzz as he finds himself stranded in the future after trying to save his fellow Star Command officers from the alien planet they’re stranded on. Co-written and directed by Angus MacLane, Lightyear debuted to generally positive reviews from critics and audiences alike, though this wouldn’t translate to box office receipts, as it only grossed just over $226 million against its $200 million production budget, landing it the label of a box office bomb.
A recent posting from Matthew Belloni’s Puck newsletter reflected on the recent changes occurring in Hollywood’s animation field, including former Pixar CEO John Lasseter now leading the charge for Skydance Animation. The report also stated that two people who have spoken with the original Toy Story director say he was “extremely critical” of both Lightyear and Strange World, Disney’s two major box office flops of 2022. Lasseter is said to hold extra contempt for the latter project’s failing after having “created and nurtured” the eponymous Space Ranger for 25 years, having helmed the first two installments in the Toy Story franchise and developing the story with fellow Pixar vets Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Joe Ranft.
Why Lightyear Was A Rare Pixar Bomb
Lightyear bombing at the box office proved to be a major surprise to many for a number of reasons, first and foremost being its larger franchise ties, with both Toy Story 3 and 4 clearing the $1 billion mark. Additionally, with the spinoff being Pixar’s first solely theatrical release after Disney elected for Disney+ premieres for Soul, Luca and Turning Red during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was expected families would turn out to support the film. This bombing led some to believe audiences weren’t ready to return to theaters for family-friendly films, only for Minions: The Rise of Gru‘s record-breaking $939 million box office haul, the highest for all animated films of 2022, to prove this not to be the case.
One of the biggest factors blamed for Lightyear‘s bombing was the decision to recast Allen with Chris Evans, a move met with major division from Toy Story fans, who largely didn’t accept the explanation of it stemming from it technically being a different character. Another major element factoring into the film’s failure at the box office was competition from Jurassic World Dominion, which just narrowly broke the $1 billion mark, and Top Gun: Maverick, which became the biggest surprise hit of the year as Tom Cruise’s best-reviewed and highest-grossing film of the year. Even upon its Disney+ premiere, Lightyear was only modestly successful in its viewership numbers, falling very short of the Oscar-winning Encanto, which has set multiple records since it began streaming on the platform.
Much like Lightyear, Disney’s Strange World proved to be shocker for the House of Mouse on multiple accounts, grossing just $66.5 million against its reported $180 million production budget, with some analysts expecting the film to lose the studio around $147 million. The film also broke Disney’s 30-year streak of scoring an A- or higher from audiences on CinemaScore, scoring just a B, which was said to have factored in to its box office failing alongside the lack of the same marketing push as other major Disney releases. While there have been no talks of another Toy Story film in the near future, it seems likely Lightyear‘s failings will put a stop to any other installments in the franchise for some time.