Disney Pixar's Lightyear is now looking poised to do stellar business in its opening weekend, with the current box office estimates falling somewhere between $70-80 million, from 4,200 theaters in the North American market. That's a solid return to form for a Pixar animated feature opening in theaters; before the COVID-19 pandemic there were Pixar films like Coco ($50M), Cars 3 ($53.6M), The Good Dinosaur ($39M), that didn't have as high of an opening as Lightyear looks like it will have. On the other hand, Pixar's biggest film franchises like Toy Story 4 ($120M), Incredibles 2 ($182M), Finding Dory ($135M), all opened with significantly higher box office hauls.
Lightyear falling somewhere in the middle of the stack of Pixar releases makes a certain amount of sense. The film's Toy Story connections already put it on the radar of an entire demographic of kids and families that are fans of that franchise, which means Lightyear already has a sizable front-loaded audience for its first week in theaters.
However, beyond that, it's not quite certain what Lightyear has done to attract an audience beyond they Toy Story fandom. Critical consensus is that the film is pretty good – if only that. While Lightyear's story and sci-fi themes are good, the film is also said to be less than the promised legendary movie that supposedly shaped the childhood fantasies of Andy from Toy Story. Lightyear is the lowest Rotten Tomatoes scorer of any Toy Story movie; If there's not strong word-of-mouth to carry it, then Lightyear could end up being less of an earner than a lot of other Pixar releases.
Here's what we said in ComicBook.com's official Lightyear review:
Lightyear could absolutely work as an original title – Toy Story really isn't necessary to make the tale or characters enjoyable. But the connection is used about as perfectly as it could be. There are a few lines that harken back to Buzz's catchphrases in Toy Story, but the story never leans on the adventures in Andy's room. Instead, it offers the chance to unpack a much more interesting version of the deeply human toy that has been in our lives for nearly 30 years. Lightyear aims for infinity and more than delivers, taking us a little further beyond what we'd expected.
Lightyear is now in theaters.