Box office: ‘Lightyear’ disappoints with 2nd place opening for ‘Toy Story’ prequel

On paper, the idea for “Lightyear” seemed like a sound one, and for many, the return of Pixar Animation to theaters after two long years should have been seen as an event in itself, mainly because Disney has released all of Pixar’s movies directly to the Disney+ streaming network since 2020. With Chris Evans voicing the title character of Buzz Lightyear and with the movie’s (somewhat vague) connections to the popular and profitable “Toy Story” franchise, “Lightyear” should have done much better this weekend for its box office opening.

So, what happened?

That’s going to be the question of the week as Universal’s “Jurassic World: Dominion” won its second weekend in a row despite a steep 60% drop-off from its opening, with its estimated $58.7 million bringing it close to $250 million domestic in just 11 days. Overseas, “Dominion” added another $76.1 million to the coffers, bringing its international total to $372.4 million and global take to $622.2 million. Any worries that negative American reviews would kill the movie have proven unfounded.

Meanwhile, “Lightyear” came into the weekend with a lot of ballyhoo about its semi-origin story for one of Pixar Animation’s beloved characters, one first introduced in the studio’s theatrical feature debut “Toy Story” way back in 1995. “Lightyear” was even released onto IMAX screens that took advantage of that larger landscape, although ironically, it had to share those IMAX screens with “Dominion.”

The “Lightyear” reviews were well below the previous four “Toy Story” movies at 77% on Rotten Tomatoes, although the audience score was slightly better at 86% positive, and it received an “A-” CinemaScore. After making just $5.2 million in Thursday previews and winning Friday with $20.7 million, the animated movie didn’t get the normal Saturday bump, mainly since schools were already out in most areas.

“Lightyear” ended up grossing an estimated $51 million for the weekend, which is significantly lower than expected but still the biggest opening for a Disney animated movie since COVID hit. (It fell short of the $70 million opening for Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” back in early April.) Even so, that would make it the first Pixar movie not to open at #1 since “The Good Dinosaur” in 2015, and unlike “Inside Out” – which also opened in second place earlier that year but became #1 in its third weekend – “Lightyear” isn’t likely to become #1 against stronger movies being released over the next couple weeks.

SEE June 2022 box office preview: ‘Jurassic World’ and ‘Lightyear’ bring dinos and Pixar back to theaters

The real story of the summer of 2022 continues to be Tom Cruise’s “Top Gun Maverick,” as it becomes the year’s biggest surprise mega-blockbuster. This weekend, it grossed $44 million in 4,035 theaters for third place, down a mere 15% from last week and making it only the second movie EVER to make that amount in its fourth weekend. “Avatar” did more in its fourth weekend with $50 million, and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” made slightly less with $42 million, but both of those also benefitted from the December holidays.

“Maverick” has grossed $466.2 in North America alone, which not only makes it the highest-grossing movie of the year, but also only the second movie to reach that milestone since 2019. (The other movie was “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” of course.) On top of that, “Maverick” made $39.7 million internationally this weekend, bringing its global total to $885.2 million. It’s still about $50 million short of becoming the year’s highest-grossing movie worldwide behind Marvel’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”

“Multiverse of Madness” took an easy fourth place with $4.2 million, down just 20% from last week with $405 million grossed domestically. That is slightly ahead of 2002’s “Spider-Man,” making it director Sam Raimi’s highest-grossing movie to date.

“The Bob’s Burgers Movie” and “The Bad Guys” continue to jockey for placement, but as of Sunday, “Bob’s Burgers” pulled ahead with $1.1 million to take fifth place. “Bad Guys” took the sharpest plunge this weekend, partially from losing theaters but also facing tougher family competition in “Lightyear.” Adding less than a million this weekend, “Bad Guys” has grossed $94.2 million domestically, compared to the sub-$30 million for “Bob’s Burgers.”

They both came out just ahead of “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which took seventh place with just under a million and a total domestic gross of $62.7 million.

Those three movies and the rest of the top 10 all saw significant drops from losing screens to the top three movies, but opening in tenth place was a quirky comedy from Focus Features called “Brian and Charles,” which managed to open in tenth place with less than $200,000 from 279 theaters. It only averaged $710 per theater, but it shows what can be achieved when the distribution team recognizes an opportunity.

SEE May box office 2022 preview: ‘Doctor Strange’ sequel will dominate until the return of Tom Cruise in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

IFC Films’ Spanish comedy “Official Competition,” starring Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, and Oscar Martínez, scored $34,000 in four theaters, which is about $8,500 per site, although it will expand over the next few weeks to be nationwide on July 1.

This was a real head-scratcher for the weekly Gold Derby box office game. The majority of players had “Lightyear” winning the weekend with some amount over $75 million, which seemed perfectly reasonable. The fact that “Jurassic World: Dominion” was the actual #1 movie, but with between $50 and 75 million, meant that only the six players who picked that range are likely to go 6 for 6 this week. Most guessed the #3 and 4 slots correctly, but only a smaller percentage went with “Bob’s Burgers” this week for fifth place, despite it being beat by “Bad Guys” last weekend.

Only eight players went 6 for 6 for the weekend of June 10, but “Reuven Malter” scored 59,866 points to win the week. Congrats!

On Friday, Warner Bros releases Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” while Universal unleashes Scott Derrickson’s horror movie, “The Black Phone,” starring Ethan Hawke. Check back on Wednesday for our preview of the weekend box office.

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