Disney is hoping Lightyear’s box office receipts go to infinity and beyond, sending the Toy Story spinoff exclusively to theaters, after relegating its other recent Pixar films to Disney+, its streaming platform. Now fans — including those who are still theater-averse during this COVID-19 era — are wondering when Lightyear will be on Disney+.
While Buzz Lightyear was a toy in Toy Story — as Woody was so quick to point out — Lightyear is the movie that inspired the plaything.
“Lightyear follows the legendary space ranger (Chris Evans) on an intergalactic adventure alongside ambitious recruits, Izzy (Keke Palmer), Mo (Take Waititi) and Darby (Dale Soules), and his robot companion Sox (Peter Sohn),” Disney adds in a synopsis. “As this motley crew embark on their toughest mission yet, they must learn to work as a team to escape the evil Zurg (James Brolin) and his dutiful robot army, who are never far behind.”
Why is ‘Lightyear’ only in theaters?
The question isn’t so much why Lightyear is hitting theaters but why Pixar’s previous three movies — Soul, Luca, and Turning Red — didn’t. As Vulture reports, Pixar staffers are frustrated that their Disney overlords sent those three movies to Disney+ in an apparent effort to boost subscriptions.
“We don’t want to be a title just on Disney+,” an anonymous Pixar employee told Business Insider last year. “These movies are crafted for the big screen. We want you to watch these movies with no distractions, no looking at your phones.”
But an animation insider tells Vulture that Lightyear is a theatrical release because it’s a continuation of the valuable Toy Story franchise — and the potential jumping-off point for a new film series. “Lightyearwas always headed for the big screen,” the insider says. “There’s a lot of merch involved and merch sells more and faster with a theatrical run.”
How is ‘Lightyear’ doing in theaters?
Amid stiff competition from Jurassic World Dominion and Top Gun: Maverick, Lightyear still got a “respectable” $5.2 million at the box office in Thursday previews and is expected to get between $70 million and $80 million in its opening weekend, Variety reports.
When will ‘Lightyear’ be on Disney+?
As Digital Spy reports, Disney has been giving many of their movies a 45-day theatrical window, so we can expect Lightyear to arrive on Disney+ around Sunday, July 31. But because Disney might want to avoid a weekend release, Digital Spy speculates the movie will launch on Disney+ during the week of Monday, August 1.
And Disney is likely hoping Lightyear can drive Disney+ subscriptions like Encanto did when it arrived on the streaming platform. “If Lightyear can be huge on Disney+, that may be more important to the Walt Disney Company than its actual box office,” analyst Rich Greenfield tells Vulture. “To be a success at the box office, it has to probably generate $700 million to $1 billion. On the flip side, if Lightyear can become a breakout hit like Encanto on Disney+, the box office doesn’t matter.”