‘We asked too much of the audience’: Pixar exec admits Lightyear flopped for straying too far from Toy Story

Pixar’s chief creative officer recognized this week that the producers of the 2022 flop Lightyear ‘asked too much of the audience.’

‘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,’ Pixar’s Peter Docter told The Wrap.

The movie angered Toy Story fans after it was revealed that Tim Allen had been replaced with Chris Evans as the voice of Buzz Lightyear in the grown-up tale. Further anger ensued over the inclusion of a lesbian kiss.

The movie took a disappointing $226.4 million in receipts against a $200 million budget – but almost certainly lost money when marketing costs are factored in.

‘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 added. He seemed to agree with some fans that it strayed too far from the Toy Story movies people were familiar with and love.

By comparison, Toy Story 4, which featured Allen, generated over $1 billion at the box office against the same budget. A fifth movie is in the works – and Allen will reappear in his role as Buzz.

His elimination from Lightyear sparked claims he’d been axed for being vocally conservative, but Disney have maintained it was befitting to use a different voice actor for a movie that had a markedly-different tone.

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Lightyear was the first Disney movie to have an uninterrupted run in a movie theater since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Critically the film has the lowest rating on Rotten Tomatoes since 2017’s Cars 3 with 74 percent.

Peter Docter, shown here, believes that the producers of Lightyear ‘asked too much of the audience’

‘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,’ Docter said this week.

‘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 continued.

Docter, who has been at Pixar since 1990, went on: ‘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.’

Regardless of being a visible flop, Disney disclosed earlier this month that the original Toy Story cast, including Tim Allen and Tom Hanks, will return for Toy Story 5.

‘See ya soon Woody, you are a sad strange little man and you have my pity. And off we go to a number 5! To infinity and beyond!’ Allen tweeted earlier this month.

Toy Story is a long-time movie franchise for Disney. The original film, which was the first computer-animated feature film and the debut feature release from Pixar Animation Studios, came out in 1995. 

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It received a Special Achievement Academy Award in 1996, as there was no best animated feature film category at the time. The first three movies received near-universal acclaim, although the fourth fared less well among fans and critics.

That has led some to accuse Disney of trying to flog a dead horse with the latest sequel.





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Ella Ford is a mother of two, a Christian conservative writer with degrees in American History, Social and Behavioral Science and Liberal Studies, based in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area.


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