Pixar Had to Do a ‘Lot of Soul-Searching’ After ‘Lightyear’ Flopped at Box Office

"What went wrong is that we asked too much of the audience," Pixar Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter said.
Lightyear Pixar

Pixar and “box office flop” are usually not put together in the same sentence. Yet, the lows of “Lightyear” went to infinity and beyond it seemed.

After the “Toy Story” spin-off animated feature underperformed in theaters (and even saw some cineplexes fast-forward a same-sex kiss when showing the film), Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter addressed what went wrong with “Lightyear,” which starred Chris Evans as the “real” astronaut Buzz Lightyear that the toy is based on. The film received mixed reviews and ultimately lacked the signature Pixar spark drawing audiences in.

“We’ve done a lot of soul-searching about that because we all love the movie. We love the characters and the premise,” Docter told The Wrap. “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?'”

Docter continued, “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], 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.”

He added, “Look, it’s great to go back and explore these worlds and these characters, but you want to have a reason, some kind of compelling reason, that you’re making the movie.”

Lead star Evans previously admitted it was “tough” stepping into an iteration of Buzz Lightyear for the prequel film, following Tim Allen’s iconic turn as the toy version.

“The first time you have to do that iconic line, ‘To infinity and beyond,’ you just kind of do a shameless Tim Allen impression, because it’s intimidating,” Evans said.

The actor also addressed Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait banning the film’s release due to gay themes. A kiss between two lesbian characters was originally cut from the film and later reinstated amid the “Don’t Say Gay” bill-backing backlash toward Disney.

“It’s tough to not be a little frustrated that it even has to be a topic of discussion. That it is this kind of ‘news,'” Evans said. “The goal is that we can get to a point where it is the norm, and that this doesn’t have to be some uncharted waters, that eventually this is just the way it is. That representation across the board is how we make films. Look, it’s an honor to be a part of something that is taking those steps, but the goal is to look back on this time and just be shocked that it took us this long to get there.”

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.