by Ray Keating
July 5, 2022
Disney-Pixar’s Lightyear ranks as a rather staggering flop. There’s just no way around that for Disney. And with it comes questions about Pixar.
To drive home the point, consider that Minions: The Rise of Gru, from Universal, opened on July 1, and through July 4, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, it raked in $125.2 million domestically and $219 million globally. In contrast, Lightyear opened domestically on June 17, and thus far it has earned $106.7 million domestically and $188.9 million globally.
That is, the opening July 4th weekend for Minions generated more ticket sales than Lightyear has over three weekends. Yikes.
Putting aside Minions, the reported production budget for Lightyear was $200 million. That excludes marketing costs, which generally run anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent of the production budget. Let’s take a middle point, and therefore, assume a total costs of $350 million for Lightyear. At just less than $190 million in revenue after its third weekend, there’s just no way that Lightyear will come close to breaking even, never mind making a profit in theaters. Yikes, again.
This was Pixar’s first big move back into theaters since Onward was cut short in theaters when the pandemic hit in March 2020. Since then, Soul, Luca and Turning Red went to Disney+. Consider that Lightyear’s production budget at $200 million isn’t all that different from reports that Soul cost $150 million, Luca $200 million, and Turning Red $175 million – again, absent marketing costs. Those are big numbers for few dollars coming in at the box office, while one is left trying to figure out their contributions to Disney+ subscriptions. They no doubt contributed positively to subscriber growth, but to what degree? Also, can these types of budgets be sustained in the future without substantial profits at the box office?
Of course, Pixar has a stellar track record over the long haul, and it might just snapback with more hits. It’s hard to bet against them.
But doubts lurk. After all, the creators at Pixar today are not the same as those who gave us Toy Story, The Incredibles, Monsters Inc. and other Pixar classics. Indeed, one could argue that there has been a drop off in the quality of Pixar films over its past 11 movies – starting with The Good Dinosaur in 2015 which had the worst Pixar box office pre-pandemic – again especially when compared to the incredible run with its first 15 movies.
So, Pixar seems to be another question for Disney CEO Bob Chapek, who is a CEO in no shortage of questions and challenges.
Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels and assorted nonfiction books. Have Ray Keating speak your group, business, school, church, or organization. Email him at email@example.com.
The views expressed here are his own – after all, no one else should be held responsible for this stuff, right?
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