To infinity and beyond? Not exactly…
“Lightyear,” a spin-off story set in Pixar’s “Toy Story” universe, fell short of that no-holds-barred milestone on its box office debut, grossing $51 million from 4,255 North American theaters. Family audiences, the film’s main demographic, have been largely absent since COVID. But even so, these ticket sales are disappointing for a brand as recognizable as Pixar, the home of “The Incredibles,” “Finding Nemo” and “Up.” It’s particularly problematic given that “Lightyear” cost $200 million to produce and tens of millions more to market.
Over the weekend, the Disney movie was expected to generate at least $70 million. But its ambitions were thwarted by fierce competition from Universal’s giant “Jurassic World Dominion” and Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” as well as little intrigue to watch a slightly esoteric origin story about Buzz Lightyear, which had only a tenuous connection. with the four films in the popular children’s franchise. With its wobbly take-off, “Lightyear” came in at number two, becoming one of the rare Pixar films not to take the top spot at the domestic box office.
Internationally, “Lightyear” earned $34.6 million in 43 markets, bringing its global total to $85.6 million. The film was banned in smaller foreign markets, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, because it depicts a kiss between people of the same sex.
Notably, “Lightyear” is Pixar’s first film to be shown on the big screen in over two years – since “Onward” in March 2020. During the pandemic, three of the animation studio’s titles – “Soul”, “Luca ” and “Turning Red” — skipped theaters to land directly on Disney+, leaving some box office analysts questioning whether consumers were trained to watch Pixar movies at home. Other industry experts question whether Disney is relying too much on brand recognition and not enough on execution. It’s not that people didn’t like the movie, which got an “A-” CinemaScore and 77% on Rotten Tomatoes. But Disney certainly expected more ticket buyers to feel compelled to see “Lightyear” in theaters over the weekend.
“This is a smooth opening for a spin-off of one of the most successful animated series of all time,” says David A. Gross, who runs film consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. He notes, “’Toy Story’ has defied gravity at the box office for its 27 years, each episode topping the last, the last two grossing a billion dollars worldwide. But like all spin-offs, the story of ‘Lightyear’ is narrower now.”
Even with a whopping 60% drop, “Jurassic World Dominion” managed to take the box office crown again in a surprise. Universal’s prehistoric sequel generated $58.6 million from 4,697 theaters in its second weekend of release, bringing its domestic total to $259 million.
Third, “Top Gun: Maverick” continues to fly high with a massive $44 million across 4,035 locations across North America, marking a 15% drop from last weekend. These box office returns are especially significant given that the film has been running in theaters for a month. Only one movie, “Avatar,” with $50 million in its fourth opening weekend, has generated more in a single weekend at this point in its theatrical run. To date, the sequel to 1986’s “Top Gun” has grossed $466 million in the US and Canada and $885 million worldwide, making the film the biggest box office hit of Tom Cruise’s decades-long career. .
Disney’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” ranked fourth with $4.2 million across 2,455 locations. After seven weekends on the big screen, the Marvel comic book sequel has racked up an impressive $405.1 million in North America. However, the sequel to “Strange” is no longer the highest-grossing film of the year in the US. That title that now belongs to Pete “Maverick” Mitchell.
Another Disney movie, “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” rounded out the top five. The film, a big-screen sequel to the popular TV series, grossed $1.1 million from 1,350 locations. After four opening weekends, “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” generated $29 million at the domestic box office.
Although “Lightyear” was the only new film to open nationwide, several films — including the Focus Features comedy “Brian and Charles” and IFC’s “Official Competition” — began in limited release.
A Sundance favorite that didn’t resonate beyond Park City, “Brian and Charles” was a big hit on its box office debut. The feel-good movie, directed by Jim Archer and starring David Earl, grossed just $198,000 from 279 theaters — translating to $711 per location.
Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas star in “Official Competition,” which hit four theaters nationwide and generated $34,000 ($8,500 per theater). The highly rated film, about a wealthy businessman who hires a neurotic director to produce his passion project, expands to multiplexes in Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. next week before landing across the country on Dec. July.
“We are very excited about this comic gem connecting with US audiences and look forward to its continued and successful release,” said Arianna Bocco, President of IFC Films.