Infinity isn’t a practical milestone at the box office, so Disney’s Lightyear has to settle for an opening day of $20.7 million and beyond.
Pixar’s offshoot of its “Toy Story” series started Thursday night with a respectable $5.2 million from previews. However, the film is now on track to fall short of initial expectations, which originally pinned the film for a $70-80 million debut in 4,255 theaters in North America. Additionally, “Lightyear” is struggling to push Universal’s “Jurassic World Dominion” off the top of the domestic charts on the second weekend of the Dino sequel.
There are certainly lucrative ways to look at the opening of Lightyear, as the projected $52 million would easily mark the highest debut for an animated film in North America since the pandemic began. Family audiences were somewhat skeptical about returning to the big screen when multiplexes reopened, prompting Disney to reassess its release strategy and oppose theatrical releases for Pixar’s latest three animated features – Soul, Luca and Turning — to decide Red — and instead debut them directly on the company’s streamer Disney+ to boost subscriptions. After a more than two-year absence from theaters, a $52 million opening would show that Pixar still has a place on the big screen.
However, it’s not hard to imagine that Disney wanted to make more of a splash with “Lightyear.” The spinoff might not bring in even half the $120.9 million opening of 2019’s “Toy Story 4,” even though the sci-fi film is a spinoff of Pixar’s Crown Jewels franchise.
With a whopping $200 million production budget, “Lightyear” still has a long way to go before it’s safely in the black. The film aims to get an extra boost from family audiences through Saturday matinees and Father’s Day business on Sundays. Critics were generally positive, with the film receiving an overall approval rating of 61% from top critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences seem to like the film as well, with “Lightyear” earning an “A-” rating on the Cinema Score, indicating strong overall approval.
Lightyear focuses on the origin of the Buzz Lightyear character, who first appeared in a film before becoming an action figure and befriended Woody in Toy Story. In the Toy Story canon, the character Andy saw “Lightyear” and obtained a Buzz Lightyear toy as merchandise. Now the public of our world can see the film that ignited Andy’s imagination.
Chris Evans will voice from originator Tim Allen, and the film also features the voices of Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, James Brolin, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, Uzo Aduba, Mary McDonald-Lewis, Efren Ramirez and Isiah Whitlock Jr.
If current projections for Lightyear hold up, Jurassic World Dominion could be poised to repeat itself as the top predator at the domestic box office.
Universal is forecasting its sixth entry in the “Jurassic” series to be down 61% from its massive $143 million debut last weekend, grossing $57.1 million over the three-day window. That’s a slightly steeper drop than the franchise’s last two entries in their second weekends; 2015’s Jurassic World fell 49%, while 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom fell 58.8%.
Still, the $57.8 million projected haul for “Dominion” could be enough to secure a second weekend at the top of the domestic charts. The Dino sequel should boost its gross domestic product to nearly $250 million by Sunday, making it already one of the top four grossing films at the domestic box office for 2022.
Top Gun: Maverick continues to cruise smoothly. Paramount is forecasting a phenomenally small 23% decline for the three-day window, which translates to a gross gain of $40 million.
Tom Cruise’s sequel has become a true cinema phenomenon since it topped the Memorial Day weekend box office record with a four-day debut grossing $160 million. Since then, the film has dropped less than 50% weekly, an uncharacteristically low number for blockbuster cinemas. Riding the wave of spectacular word-of-mouth, Maverick this week became the highest-grossing release of 2022 in the US, overtaking Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. And with business still booming, the sky seems to be the limit for “Maverick.”
Speaking of Doctor Strange, the superhero sequel looks set to peak at number four on the domestic charts this weekend. The Marvel Cinematic Universe entry added another $1.1 million on Friday, taking its domestic gross to $401 million.
Disney and 20th Century Studios’ The Bob’s Burgers Movie should round out the top five. The adaptation of the long-running animated series was expected to surpass $30 million in domestic gross earnings by Monday.