At the beginning of January this year, Sonic the hedgehog 2 caused a loud boom at the domestic box office when it opened for $72.1 million in theaters. Paramount insiders estimate that nearly 60 percent of the audience on opening weekend were children and parents, showing that families were indeed willing to put aside their concerns about the ongoing pandemic and return to theaters. Hollywood and theater owners heaved a huge sigh of relief.
But when Pixar and Disney’s Toy Story spin-off light year debuted in theaters over Father’s Day weekend, only about 38 percent of the participants were families, which helped explain why the film launched to $50.6 million, rather than an expected $70 million to $85 million. Worse, it bowed second behind holdover Jurassic World Dominion surprised, even if it could boast the best opening of the pandemic for an animated film (sonic was a live-action/CGI hybrid).
By the Sunday night of the weekend of June 17-19, everyone in Hollywood was asking the same question, as the opening couldn’t be pinned to the pandemic alone: What happened?
Disney insiders personally point to mixed reviews from critics — at least for a Pixar offering — less than rave audience ratings, as well as marketing and brand confusion.
Pixar movies are always known for attracting both younger and older adults who don’t have children, but the rise of the family for light year was remarkably light. In June 2019, about 45 percent of ticket buyers had Toy Story 4 were children and parents. Kids are notorious for being repeat viewers, which can propel a big screen movie to enjoy incredible multiples.
That didn’t help either light year became a political punchline for conservative Republican lawmakers when a same-sex kiss scene was reinstated in the film after Pixar employees said Disney was censoring “openly gay affection” following the uproar over Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s handling of “Don’t Say Gay” from Florida” account.
After the film’s opening over Father’s Day weekend, U.S. Representative Jim Jordan (Ohio), the minority member of the House Judiciary Committee and has 2.8 million followers, tweeted on June 21: “Buzz Lightyear woke up. Disney went bankrupt.” And a verified Twitter account for the GOP Judiciary Committee with over 223,000 followers followed by tweeting, “make Toy Story great again.”
There is no hard and fast evidence that the political conversation hurt light year, although the film underindexed by a fairly large margin in the Midwest, according to a source with access to regional data from Comscore. †Toy Story 4 was within range of normal three years ago in the Midwest.)
Disney Insiders Argue The Red-Lenting States Contributed The Same Percentage Of The Total Gross Amount light year that’s what they did for sonic 2†
light year also under-indexed in the Northeast, where many places are Democratic-oriented, as well as Canada. It outperformed in the West and Southeast, including in many Latin American-led markets (Hispanics made up more than 30 percent of the audience.)
Boxoffice Pro analyst Shawn Robbins says there are bigger problems outside of politics, but adds that the latter cannot be completely ignored. “We also need to consider the unfortunate withdrawal of the same-sex relationship in film from ultra-conversative families, who have also learned for two years to expect Pixar movies on streaming sooner or later,” Robbins said, referring to Disney’s decision to multiple Pixar movies. titles to Disney+ since the pandemic† “The combination of those two sentiments seems to have led to a ‘we’ll watch it before we show it to our kids’ mentality in some communities, especially those with strictly religious views, as opposed to the filmmakers’ intentions for equality. and representation for all.”
Many studio distribution honchos and box office pundits don’t believe it hurts to send the last few Pixar movies straight to Disney+ light year† “Consumers certainly have many viewing options, but there is no substitute for the theatre. Disney has activated more than 4 million people to leave the television behind and experience it light year in a way that cannot be replicated at home,” said Steve Buck of EntTelligence, a checkout analytics company.
The film currently has a 76 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an audience rating of 86 percent. That is 96 percent and 94 percent respectively for Toy Story 4†
The general consensus: There was confusion about exactly how the film related to the iconic Toy Story franchise and the character Buzz Lightyear, who was voiced in the main series by conservative actor Tim Allen. This time, the Space Ranger is voiced by Chris Evans.
“The film didn’t hit the right buttons,” says a rival veteran studio manager.
Robbins adds, “Marketing struck a nostalgic note, but one that leaned heavily on the” Toy Story the brand’s older millennial audience and advertised minimal comedic elements, often driving the biggest four-quadrant animated films at the box office.”
Competition from Jurassic World was another problem for light year† “Kids love dinosaurs,” notes another veteran Hollywood director. And then there is Top Gun: Maverickwhich has been transformed into a runaway blockbuster and is also getting love from families almost a month after its debut.
In 2007, Pixar’s Ratatouille opened for only $47 million – as at light yeardrew headlines everywhere for the lukewarm number — but then began to make its way to grossing $206.4 million domestically and $626.5 million worldwide.
Ironic, Toy Story 4 also initially drew negative headlines when opening to $118 million domestically, as pre-release tracking had suggested it would be closer to $140 million, if not higher. That film went through at the worldwide box office to exceed $1 billion. Overseas, light year started with $34.6 million from the first 43 markets. It did especially well in Latin America, a huge market for animation.
On July 1, Universal and Illumination will open the animated sequel Minions: The Rise of Gru in another test for the family box office, the full recovery of which is key to the success of the old Hollywood studio system. Just as this story went to the press, Paramount announced that: sonic 2 has crossed the $400 million mark worldwide, making it the only second family photo since COVID-19 to have accomplished that feat Sing 2† Pre-pandemic family movies could do a lot more. (For example, in 2019, four family photos exceeded $1 billion worldwide.)
Disney and Pixar hope so light year plays all summer, but its holding power remains to be seen once the pesky and ever-disruptive little yellow creatures (i.e. Minions) invade the multiplex.