Disney’s “Lightyear,” an origin story about the Star Command’s most famous space ranger, is looking to take the box office to infinity and beyond. But first, it’ll have to thwart some rogue dinosaurs and a few fighter jets.
The “Toy Story” spinoff is expected to launch to $70 million to $80 million from 4,200 North American theaters, which should be enough to claim the No. 1 spot. However, “Lightyear” will face steep competition from last weekend’s champion, Universal’s “Jurassic World Dominion,” which debuted to $145 million, as well as Paramount’s crowd-pleasing blockbuster “Top Gun: Maverick,” which has continued to defy the forces of gravity at the box office.
In its sophomore outing, “Jurassic World Dominion” is likely to decline 55%-60% between Friday and Sunday, which would put ticket sales around $58 million to $65 million. Overall, it’ll be another robust weekend at the domestic box office as “Top Gun: Maverick” aims to add $25 million to $30 million in its fourth weekend of release.
The sequel to 1986’s “Top Gun” has been a box office force that shows little sign of slowing down. On Tuesday, the film soared past $400 million in North America to become the highest-grossing movie of the year in the U.S.
With “Lightyear,” which tells the story behind the movie that inspired Andy’s favorite toy, Disney is banking on nostalgia to bring in kids whose parents were fans of “Toy Story.” Family audiences have returned in fits and starts, but it’s a demographic that’s been largely absent since COVID.
Notably, “Lightyear” is the first Pixar movie to play on the big screen in more than two years. During the pandemic, three Pixar movies — “Soul,” “Luca” and “Turning Red” — skipped theaters to land directly on Disney+ in an effort to prop up the company’s successful streaming service. For theater operators, “Lightyear” is a welcome return because Pixar is a brand that has become synonymous with box office success. It’s needed for Disney, too. “Lightyear” cost $200 million to produce, not including pricey marketing efforts, so it needs to be a box office winner to turn a profit.
Angus MacLane directed “Lightyear,” which has received mostly positive reviews and boasts a 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. Chris Evans takes over from Tim Allen as the voice of Buzz Lightyear, an accomplished space ranger who is marooned on a planet that’s many, many light years from Earth. As he travels through space and time to return home, he’s forced to thwart a mysterious presence known as Zurg (voiced by James Brolin). Uzo Aduba, Keke Palmer and Taika Waititi round out the voice cast.