Pixar CCO: Lightyear ‘Asked Too Much of the Audience’

The reception for Pixar’s Lightyear movie was somewhat mixed. According to Pixar’s chief creative officer, it’s because the film asked too much of the audience.

Speaking to TheWrap, Pete Docter — who directed Monsters, Inc., Up, Inside Out, and Soul for Pixar prior to becoming its CCO — spoke about why he thinks Lightyear ended up being poorly received. The 2022 film was loosely connected to the world of Toy Story, but told the story of the actual Buzz Lightyear — a human space explorer, not the toy.

Following the film’s release, fans didn’t flock to the theater and the film was generally considered a box-office bomb. Docter says he believes the less-than-stellar response is due to the fact that the concept for the film was just a bit too big.

“We’ve done a lot of soul-searching about that because we all love the movie,” said Docter. “We love the characters and the premise. I think probably what we’ve ended on in terms of what went wrong is that we asked too much of the audience. When they hear Buzz, they’re like, great, where’s Mr. Potato Head and Woody and Rex? And then we drop them into this science fiction film that they’re like, ‘What?’”

Docter went on to say that even if fans had known the full idea behind the film, there were too many other things they expected from the film.

“Even if they’ve read the material in press, it was just a little too distant, both in concept, and I think in the way that characters were drawn, that they were portrayed,” Docter stated. “It was much more of a science fiction. And Angus [MacLane, director], to his credit, took it very seriously and genuinely and wanted to represent those characters as real characters. But the characters in Toy Story are much broader, and so I think there was a disconnect between what people wanted/expected and what we were giving to them.”

Up next for Pixar is the romantic fantasy film Elemental, which is set to release on June 16, 2023. For those looking to watch Lightyear, the film is now available to stream on Disney+ and is in stores and digital marketplaces everywhere.

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