by Lindsay Bahri
“Lightyear” didn’t go to infinity (or beyond) its first weekend in theaters: Pixar’s first major theatrical release since March 2020 hit $51 million in its first weekend in North America on Sunday, according to studio estimates .
Not only did it open lower than expected, but it also failed to win over “Jurassic World: Dominion,” which took first place with $58.7 million in its second weekend.
It’s a mixed bag for Disney and Pixar as to “Lightyear,” an origin story about the film that inspired the Space Ranger action figure in the “Toy Story” movies, the biggest launch for an animated family film on the pandemic. is one of. Including international performances, which grossed $34.6 million, “Lightyear’s”‘s global opening weekend totaled $85.6 million.
But expectations were high for a release this high-profile and based on a beloved, well-known character. Going into the weekend, some analysts were forecasting a “lightyear” $70 million North American debut.
“Expectations are always incredibly high for any Pixar film, especially one that has a direct connection to the Toy Story brand,” said Paul Dergarbadian, senior media analyst at box office tracker comScore.
“Toy Story” launched Pixar in 1995 and four of its films have grossed over $3 billion. ‘Toy Story 3’ and ‘Toy Story 4’ both also broke the $1 billion mark.
Family audiences have proved a bit more reluctant than in other regions to return to theatres. Many studios, including Disney and Pixar, have opted for streaming or hybrid releases for their animated titles. Since the start of the pandemic, the company has shipped its Pixar titles — “Soul,” “Luca,” and “Turning Red” — directly to Disney+ for free to subscribers. Disney’s other big animated titles, “Rae and the Last Dragon” and “Encanto”, received hybrid releases.
“There might be a little confusion about whether it’s just in theaters,” Dergarabedian said. “This is a film that has to be marketed in real time as family audiences connect the dots.”
Critics were mostly favorable to “Lightyear”, which featured Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear and a supporting voice cast that includes Keke Palmer and Taika Waititi. Directed by Angus MacLean, it currently holds a 77% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes. The audience gave it an A- CinemaScore.
With a reported production budget of $200 million, which doesn’t account for the millions spent on marketing and promotion, “Lightyear” has a long journey ahead to achieve profitability. But it can also be a slow, steady burning in the summer. And it’s the only big family-run “Minions: The Rise of Gru” playing in theaters until July 1.
“Lightyear” opened in 4,255 locations domestically and 43 markets overseas. Thirteen countries in the Muslim world and the Palestinian Territories barred “Lightyear” from playing in their theaters because of the inclusion of a brief kiss between a homosexual couple.
Meanwhile, “Jurassic World: Dominion” has now grossed over $622.2 million worldwide, of which 259.2 million came from US and Canadian theaters. It is only the seventh film to cross $600 million during the pandemic.
In its fourth weekend, “Top Gun: Maverick” dropped only slightly, taking third place for an additional $44 million. Its domestic total now stands at $466.2 million. Globally, the high-flying sequel has grossed over $885 million.
Dergarabedian said it’s especially noteworthy that three movies worth more than $40 million have been made this weekend.
“We haven’t seen it in a while,” he said. “We have summer movie season here.”
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” with $4.2 million and “The Bob’s Burger Movie” with $1.1 million are in the top five.
Estimated ticket sales in theaters in the US and Canada from Friday to Sunday, according to comScore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. “Jurassic World: Dominion,” $58.7 million
2. “Lightyear,” $51 million.
3. “Top Gun: Maverick,” $44 million.
4. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” $4.2 million.
5. “The Bob’s Burger Movie,” $1.1 million.
6. “Bad Guys,” $890,000.
7. “Everything Everywhere at Once,” $959,631.
8. “Downton Abbey: A New Era,” $830,000.
9. “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” $228,000.
10. “Brian and Charles,” $198,000.
Follow Associated Press Film writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr