Lightyear was one of last year's biggest flops, losing Disney over $100 million.
To infinity and…massive box office failure? According to Deadline‘s recent list of 2022’s biggest flops, the Chris Evans Toy Story spin-off Lightyear lost Disney a ton of money last year. The animated film, Pixar’s 5th in the Toy Story franchise, hemorrhaged a whopping $106 million during its theatrical run.
Many will blame the movie’s failure on the fact that it dared to feature a same-sex relationship. The “go woke, go broke,” excuse, despite being disproven over and over again, still pops up every time a movie with even a hint of progressive values doesn’t perform as well as expected. When it comes to Lightyear, however, it’s more likely a case of “Who asked for this?”
The concept for Chris Evans‘ Lightyear is so convoluted that the movie itself gets its facts wrong in its opening text. The movie opens with the words, “In 1995, a boy named Andy got a Buzz Lightyear toy for his birthday. It was from his favorite movie. This is that movie.” According to the director of the film, though, that’s not exactly right.
Angus Maclane has explained that, yes, there is a Buzz Lightyear movie in Andy’s universe; however, the Buzz Lightyear toy Andy receives in the first Toy Story is based on the cartoon based on the live-action Buzz Lightyear movie. Confused? Think of it like the Real Ghostbusters cartoon that was based on the movie Ghostbusters. Andy’s Buzz is from the toy line based on the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command cartoon that was itself based on Lightyear.
With such a confusing premise, is it any wonder the movie tanked? Add to that a bunch of Interstellar-lite gobbledygook about faster-than-light travel and time dilation (Einstein’s theory of relativity: every kid’s favorite movie topic!), and not even the voice of Chris Evans was enough to save Lightyear.
Meanwhile, some fans–mostly the ones that objected to the lesbian couple in the film–started accusing Disney of recasting Tim Allen because of his conservative views. Many were quick to point out that Chris Evans was voicing a different Buzz Lightyear than the one Tim Allen voiced, but once again, the movie’s complicated premise made it hard to explain.
The Chris Evans sci-fi blunder wasn’t the only movie to cost Disney a lot of money last year. In addition to Lightyear, Strange World, an animated movie about a family of explorers, also lost a substantial bit of cash in 2022. Strange World lost almost $200 million for the House of Mouse, meaning it will probably be the last original IP we get from Disney for a while. We all complain about Disney’s constant live-action remakes, but at least they don’t lose money.
While Disney as a corporate entity will always bounce back, the failure of Chris Evans’ Lightyear could have repercussions for those not fortunate enough to be on the board of directors. The failure of movies like Lightyear and Strange World is at least partially responsible for some of the layoffs currently happening at Disney. The movies flopping could also potentially lead Disney to start putting less progressive themes in their films if enough people claim the films were too woke for the average American.
And it goes without saying, but don’t expect to hear Chris Evans saying “To infinity and beyond!” in a Lightyear sequel anytime soon.