Now that Buzz Lightyear has landed on Disney+ in the US, we can officially say that the Toy spin-off Story is Pixar's biggest failure and Disney has been looking for it.
After the broke exploitation of Onward at the start of the pandemic and the releases of Soul, Luca and Red Alert directly on Disney+, Buzz the Éclair was supposed to bring Pixar and its audience back to theaters, in addition to launching a new saga derived from the studio's precious toy box. The film directed by Angus MacLane did everything to summon the nostalgia of the thirty-somethings who grew up with the first installment in 1995, while introducing the Space Ranger to a new generation (the one who did not know The Adventures of Buzz Lightyear).
But the company overestimated the project, including the cosmic crash damages the future of the franchise as much as that of the lamp studio.
FROM HEROES TO ZERO
On their own, the four parts of the Toy Story< saga< /strong> grossed nearly three billion dollars. The last two films released in 2010 and 2019 both surpassed one billion at the worldwide box office and became among Pixar's biggest hits ahead of Finding Dory and behind The Incredibles 2. Although it was conceived as an ambitious blockbuster and is one of the studio's most expensive films with a 200 million non-marketing budget, the Buzz Lightyear spin-off is light years ahead of its elders .
“Logbook at Star Command, crap”
The film only took in a meager $214 million at the worldwide box office and therefore did not reach its break-even point. Excluding inflation, it made $180 million less than the first installment, nearly $283 million less than Toy Story 2, and about $785 million less than Toy Story 3 > and Toy Story 4. The comparison with the rest of Pixar productions is also not very glorious. Until now, the ugly duckling was The Voyage of Arlowhich today could almost strut its stuff with its $332 million in worldwide revenue.
More generally, every Pixar released on the big screen did far better, even the less popular ones like Cars 2 (559 million), Rebel (538 million), Monsters Academy (743 million) or 1001 Paws (363 million). The case of Forward– Pixar's penultimate theatrical release – is more distinctive and difficult to compare. The 2020 feature earned just $141 million at the global box office, but its theatrical career was torpedoed by the onset of the pandemic.
The film had to fall back urgently on VOD only two weeks after its home release, finally arriving on Disney+ less than a month after its big screen launch. Buzz Lightyear, which was to take advantage of the recovery and a much more favorable context, is therefore Pixar's biggest commercial failure to date.
Beyond Pixar, Buzz Lightyear was less profitable than Dreamworks' The Bad Guys (245 million for an 80 million budget), Encanto from Disney which was nevertheless a financial disappointment (256 million for 150 million budget) or Sonic 2 (401 million for 110 million budget). Even sequels to less popular anime franchises like All in Scene 2 (407 million) or Like Animals 2(430 million) can look down on the latest Pixar.
Nothing to be proud of
IN THE WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME
Failure happens announced as of the opening weekend at 50 million dollars, or 20 to 30 million less than forecast. If the start isn't the lowest or abysmal, it's still less than the domestic launch of most Pixar sequels: Toy Story 2 (57 million and 81 million all week Thanksgiving Day), Toy Story 3 (110 million), Cars 2 (66 million), Monsters Academy(82 million), Finding Dory(182 million), < strong>The Incredibles 2 (182 million) orToy Story 4(120 million).
When it comes to the domestic box office, Buzz Lightyear is a bigger massacre yet. The film only took 117 million in North America, compared to 123 million for Le Voyage d'Arlo, 191 million for Cars 2, 152 million for Cars 3, 162 million for 1001 legs or 223 million for Toy Story (to name only the weakest). No need to dwell on the rest of the catalog, it would be like comparing a pebble to a mountain.
As well as being a harder-to-sell project than usual – a highly referenced meta spin-off billed as the movie Andy saw before Toy Story – the film also got rolled over. by other blockbusters. Jurassic World: The Next World landed in theaters a week prior and banked over $58 million by the time Buzz Lightyear was released, while Top Gun: Maverick(which was already in its fourth week of operation) grossed over 44 million.
The other competitor that Disney underestimated is Minions 2: Once Upon a Time Gru. The Illumination sequel arrived two weeks after Buzz Lightyear and made over $107 million in its opening weekend, leaving Pixar just a mere six million. In just 15 days, the spin-off of Despicable Mesurpassed $210 million at home, almost as much as Buzz on its entire global operation. The victory is overwhelming: the yellow critters are currently grossing over $717 million at the worldwide box office, while Jurassic World 3 is nearing the billion mark and Top Gun 2 > passed it easily.
Getting busted by this is still a shame
This massive competition partially explains the dizzying fall of Buzz Lightyear which lost nearly 65% of attendance in its second week of operation (against only 22.3% loss for Top Gun 2 and 59.6% for Jurassic World 3). By comparison, Toy Story 4 was only down 52.1%, Finding Dory by 45.8% and The Incredibles 2 by 55.7% (the latter having been a hit when it was launched).
Even if it is far from the 4.5 million entries for Toy Story 4 in France, Buzz Lightyear did relatively well in France (1.3 million entries), but it wasn't enough to close all the cracks. Internationally, Pixar could not count on China to inflate its box office. The Chinese market alone brought in over $189 million for Coco, $51 million for Incredibles 2, and about 30 million for Monsters University and Toy Story 4. These aren't as large sums as for a Marvel, but at such a pitiful stage, all the losses are substantial.
Pixar's Distress Signal
THE WATERED SPRINKLER
If Pixar has already had some setbacks, the failure of Buzz Lightyear will have more repercussions than that of Journey of Arlogiven that it was to launch a new big budget franchise and surely other Toy Story spin-offs. The end and the post-credits scene clearly announced a sequel which is inevitably compromised by the reception of this first part. But the Space Ranger may find more success in the near future.
Coming to Disney+, Buzz Lightyear should find the audience that shunned itand may well panic the counters of the streaming service. In which case, it would be more proof that spectators and fans of the license are still there, but no longer in theaters, for which Disney has some responsibility. At the height of the health crisis, the studio bet on the development of its platform, assuming to move away from cinemas to offer more content and bring back subscribers.
To infinity and agony
After Mulan, Raya and the Last Dragon, Jungle Cruise and Cruella have been released exclusively or in part on Disney+ in the United States in Premium access (therefore with an extra charge ), the latest Pixar Soul, Luca and Red Alertwere sold off and offered on classic VOD, that is to say at no additional cost. On the other side, release windows have been reduced to 30 or 45 days before movies switch to Disney+. Inevitably, new consumption habits have taken hold and Buzz has paid the price. Disney seems to be caught in its own trap, with viewers and especially American families abandoning the theatrical experience to wait for the film to be released “for free” on the platform.
If Buzz Lightyear which relied on a popular license failed to bring audiences back to theaters despite means deployed, the studio could be quite cautious about releasing the next original film, Elemental, on the big screen. As at the height of the crisis, the future of Pixar is therefore still uncertain, even if it seems less and less likely that the studio will one day be able to regain its letters of nobility or its event character. And after the useless Welcome to Doug, it's not the next series Cars that should prove the opposite.