Eight months after Lightyear underperformed at the box office, Pixar Chief Creative Officer Pete Doctor addresses what went wrong with the movie. Serving as something of an origin story for Buzz Lightyear, who was first introduced in 1995’s Toy Story, Lightyear follows Buzz, this time voiced by Chris Evans, as he attempts to escape a planet filled with hostile robots. The movie cost $200 million to produce and just barely exceeded this number at the worldwide box office, earning only $226 million.
In a recent interview with The Wrap, Doctor comments on Lightyear‘s disappointing box office results and offers his explanation as to why the movie underperformed. Ultimately, he explains, it’s the movie’s confusing connection to Toy Story that may have been where things went wrong. Check out Doctor’s full comment below:
“We’ve done a lot of soul-searching about that because we all love the movie. 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?’
“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 Angus, 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.”
Lightyear Would’ve Been Better Off Without The Toy Story Connection
Before Lightyear had even hit theaters, there seemed to be a great deal of confusion regarding how the movie actually connected to Toy Story. Crucially, the Buzz in the film is not the Buzz featured in Toy Story, but rather the real human character in the world of the franchise who would inspire the toy. Right off the bat, then, Lightyear wasn’t totally easy to understand as its own entity and how it connected to a larger world that audiences were already familiar with.
Although Lightyear didn’t impress at the box office, the reviews were actually mostly positive. Outside of its Toy Story connection, the movie told a straightforward but still effective science fiction story with some impressive animation. The bones of the story, which are solid, may have been better served with a different protagonist, totally separate from the world of Toy Story. As Doctor suggests, forgoing the Toy Story connection may have resulted in “broader” characters overall, thus making the movie easier to relate to.
Instead of relying on the movie’s Toy Story connections to market the film, Lightyear could have been presented as its own original piece of intellectual property. After all, Pixar is historically one of the most reliable animation studios when it comes to getting audiences on board with new stories and characters. Although there’s no guarantee that Lightyear would have succeeded without its connection to Toy Story, approaching the movie as a totally separate entity may have ultimately resulted in something more approachable and consumable.
More: Lightyear Forgot Woody’s Most Important Toy Story Lesson
Source: The Wrap