March 30, 2023

Pixar Animation Studio’s Pete Docter reflects on why the Buzz Lightyear movie starring Chris Evans flopped at the box office.

Although Pixar’s Buzz Lightyear movie received fairly positive reviews, it had trouble finding an audience, and it became one of Pixar’s few box-office bombs. Lightyear only grossed $226 million worldwide, which isn’t great when you consider the film’s $200 million price tag. While speaking with The Wrap, Pixar Animation Studio’s CCO Pete Docter reflected on what happened to Lightyear.

We’ve done a lot of soul-searching about that because we all love the movie,” Peter Docter said. “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?

The Buzz Lightyear movie told the origin story of the title character, who was the legendary Space Ranger who inspired the toy seen in the Toy Story franchise. Although Pixar tried to make this difference apparent to audiences, Docter wonders if Lightyear was “just a little too distant, both in concept, and I think in the way that characters were drawn, that they were portrayed.” Docter continued, “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.

The movie follows Buzz Lightyear after he’s marooned on a hostile planet 4.2 million light-years from Earth alongside his commander and crew. As Buzz tries to find a way back home through space and time, he’s joined by a group of ambitious recruits and his charming robot companion cat, Sox. Complicating matters and threatening the mission is the arrival of Zurg, an imposing presence with an army of ruthless robots and a mysterious agenda. Chris Evans voiced Buzz, taking over the role from Tim Allen, which some took issue with. Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, James Brolin, and Uzo Aduba rounded out the remainder of the voice cast. Audiences will see the toy version of Buzz Lightyear back on the big screen as Disney announced another Toy Story sequel earlier this month.

Did the Buzz Lightyear movie deserve to flop at the box office?

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