Pixar thinks it knows why the Lightyear movie failed

There was a lot of buzz around the Lightyear movie when it was announced in 2020, but alas, it didn't quite stick the landing. Despite decent reviews, Lightyear performed disappointingly at the box office – and now, Pixar has explained where it thinks things went wrong.

Lightyear made $226M worldwide in total, which might not sound like a disappointment. But compared with Toy Story 4's $1B (not to mention Lightyear's $200M budget), it wasn't a big hit for Pixar. And studio CCO Pete Docter says it's because the film simply asked too much of the audience. (Still fancy checking it out? Take a look at our guide to Disney Plus.)

A close up of Buzz Lightyear's face from the Lightyear movie

(Image credit: Pixar/Future)

"We’ve done a lot of soul-searching about that because we all love the movie," Docter told The Wrap. "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?"

Pixar Toy Story 4

The movie proved jarring for Toy Story fans (Image credit: Pixar)

He added, "I think there was a disconnect between what people wanted/expected and what we were giving to them." So, in other words, it sounds like the problem was how Lightyear both was and wasn't part of the Toy Story universe – indeed, its marketing even pitched it as a film that Andy might have seen as a child. A film within a film, then – perhaps a little too meta for those of us who just enjoy watching anthropomorphised toys falling over.

Still, it seems the failure of Lightyear hasn't done any harm to the wider Toy Story universe – there are already plans to bring Toy Story 5 to the big screen. (Which I'm not thrilled about, by the way.)

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Daniel Piper
Senior News Editor

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).