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'Lightyear' grosses $51 million in debut weekend, missing expectations

"Jurassic World Dominion" held the No. 1 spot at the North American box office.
Image: Lightyear
Disney and Pixar's "Lightyear." Pixar

Buzz was no match for the T. rex.

Pixar's "Lightyear," an origin story about the astronaut who inspired the Buzz Lightyear action figure from the "Toy Story" movies, nabbed $51 million in ticket sales at 4,255 locations across the U.S. and Canada during its debut weekend, according to studio estimates — a respectable but lower-than-expected haul.

"Jurassic World Dominion," the sixth entry in the dinosaur franchise, topped the charts for the second weekend in a row, gobbling up roughly $58.6 million in North America for a cumulative domestic gross of $249.7 million. ("Jurassic" was released by Universal Pictures, a unit of NBC News' parent company, NBCUniversal.)

"Lightyear," Pixar's first major theatrical release since early 2020, pulled in $34.6 million from international markets for a worldwide opening weekend total of $85.6 million, according to estimates from Walt Disney Pictures, the corporate parent of Pixar Animation Studios.

The film was expected to open nearer to $70 million in the U.S. and Canada, according to industry analysts. "Toy Story 4" launched to a commanding $120.9 million in June 2019, according to Comscore, a firm that tracks box office data.

Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore, said some filmgoers may not have realized that "Lightyear" was a spinoff of the popular "Toy Story" saga, while others might have expected it to premiere on the streaming service Disney+ like the three previous Pixar movies, "Soul," "Luca" and "Turning Red."

He struck an optimistic note, however, saying: "Despite coming in with a lower-than-expected weekend, 'Lightyear' should benefit in the coming days as word gets out to family audiences who may not have entirely made the 'Toy Story' connection and that the film is only available in theaters."

Dergarabedian added that "Lightyear" could enjoy "a nice open marketplace" that will not see a new major family film until "Minions: The Rise of Gru" lands in theaters July 1. ("Minions" is also a product of Universal Pictures.) In the meantime, "Lightyear" still faces fierce competition from "Jurassic" and "Top Gun: Maverick."

The reviews for "Lightyear" were mostly positive, helping it earn a 77% score on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie features Chris Evans as the voice of Buzz Lightyear, with a supporting voice cast that includes Keke Palmer and Taika Waititi. In the first four "Toy Story" installments, Tim Allen voiced the action figure version of Buzz.