Disney’s Lightyear FLOPS in opening weekend that saw it fail to topple Jurassic Park at box office after controversy over lesbian kiss and decision to ax conservative star Tim Allen as voice of Buzz
- Disney’s ‘Lightyear’ flopped in first weekend in theaters, earning $51.7m in US
- It failed to beat ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ which came first with $58.7m earnings
- Disappointing start for ‘Lightyear’ comes amid controversy over Disney’s decision to include a brief kiss between lesbian couple in the movie
Disney’s animated movie ‘Lightyear’ flopped in its first weekend in theaters, with the new Toy Story spin-off film earning $51.7 million in North America.
Not only did the movie open lower than expected, but it also failed to conquer ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’, which held on to the first-place spot with $58.7 million in its second weekend.
Expectations were high for ‘Lightyear’, an origin story about the movie that inspired the space ranger action figure in the ‘Toy Story’ movies, with some analysts pegging the movie for a $70 million North American debut. But it didn’t come close to that figure.
The disappointing start came after controversy over Disney’s decision to include a brief kiss between a lesbian couple in the movie and to replace the conservative star Tim Allen with Chris Evans as the voice of Buzz Lightyear.
‘Lightyear’ opened in 4,255 locations domestically and in 43 markets overseas – but 14 Muslim-majority nations banned the movie from playing in their cinemas because Disney included a lesbian kiss.
The disappointing start came after controversy over Disney’s decision to include a brief kiss between a lesbian couple in the movie and to replace the conservative star Tim Allen with Chris Evans as the voice of Buzz Lightyear
‘Lightyear’ opened in 4,255 locations domestically and in 43 markets overseas – but 14 Muslim-majority nations banned the movie from playing in their cinemas because Disney included a lesbian kiss
Not only did the movie ‘Lightyear’ open lower than expected, but it also failed to conquer ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ (pictured), which held on to the first-place spot with $58.7 million in its second weekend
The United Arab Emirates, a Muslim-led nation that criminalizes homosexuality, became the first nation to ban the movie from cinemas in response to the same-sex scene.
Malaysia has also been blacklisted the movie – the country’s film censors said it was Disney’s decision to ax ‘Lightyear’ from the nation’s theatres after refusing to cut scenes that ‘promote’ homosexuality.
Malaysia’s Film Censorship Board said it approved the movie with parental guidance for those under 13 on the condition that scenes and dialogues ‘found to contain elements promoting the LGBT lifestyle’ that violated guidelines were ‘cut and muted.’
But Disney apparently did not agree to the conditions and decided instead to cancel the screening, the board said, adding that it would not compromise on any LGBTQ scenes.
The board’s statement did not specify which scenes violated censorship guidelines but the $200 million film includes a lesbian space ranger character, Alisha, voiced by actress Uzo Aduba, and her partner starting a family together and greeting each other with a kiss on the lips.
The scene had been originally cut from the film by Disney earlier this year bit it was reinstated in March after Pixar staffers complained about the censorship in an open letter obtained by Variety.
The letter criticized the company’s CEO Bob Chapek on his handling of the issue, accusing him attempting to censor ‘gay affection.’
Banned: After the gay kiss was restored in Lightyear, the United Arab Emirates has banned the movie from cinemas and Malaysia also outlawed the animated blockbuster
The note further criticized his handling of Florida’s controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which saw the company at first take a tentative stance on the bill before succumbing to public pressure and condemning it.
The bill bans the teaching of lessons on sexuality, gender identity and sexual orientation from kindergarten up to third grade.
A total of 14 countries- Malaysia, The UAE, Indonesia, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Syria and Iraq- have barred citizens from seeing the film due to the kiss between a same-sex couple.
Disney also faced criticism over ‘Lightyear’ after it replaced Tim Allen, 69, with Marvel superhero Chris Evans as the voice of Buzz Lightyear.
There is growing concern among many that his endorsement of former President Donald Trump and attendance at his inauguration was the root cause of it.
Others fear it could be down to a series of risky jokes on his social media pages that have put him at the mercy of the left-wing mob.
Tim Allen (pictured in 2020) appears to be finding his latest rebound harder than usual, having been overlooked to reprise the role of Buzz Lightyear in the spin off movie
Allen appeared to have understood the position he was in, admitting he had a huge target on his back in Hollywood due to his right-wing politics.
Asked about attending Trump’s inauguration by Jimmy Kimmel in 2017, he said: ‘You get beat up if you don’t believe what everybody believes.
‘This is like Thirties Germany. I don’t know what happened. If you’re not part of the group, ”You know what we believe is right”, I go, ”Well, I might have a problem with that”. I’m a comedian, I like going on both sides.’
He added: ‘I literally don’t preach anything. What I’ve done is I’ve just not joined into, as I call it, the ”we culture”. I’m not telling anybody else how to live. I don’t like that.’
Disney and Pixar have denied Allen lost his role in Toy Story and sitcom Last Man Standing due to his politics despite some reports.
But his friends and supporters have still blasted the companies for apparently tossing the beloved actor out to dry.
Everyone Loves Raymond star Patricia Heaton said: ‘Saw the trailer for Buzz Lightyear and all I can say is Disney/Pixar made a HUGE mistake in not casting my pal Tim Allen in the role that he originated, the role that he owns.’
She wrote in the tweet: ‘Tim IS Buzz! Why would they completely castrate this iconic, beloved character?’
Producer Galyn Susman added: ‘Tim really is the embodiment of the toy Buzz, and this isn’t the toy world, so it really doesn’t make sense.
‘There’s not really a role. It would just cause more confusion for audiences instead of helping them understand the movie we’re trying to tell.’
Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ has been banned in multiple counties due to the fact the animated film shows a same-sex kiss between two characters – a scene parent company Disney initially took out, but reinstated following complaints from offended staff
Ticket sales for movies in US theaters
1. ‘Jurassic World: Dominion,’ $58.7 million
2. ‘Lightyear,’ $51 million.
3. ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ $44 million.
4. ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,’ $4.2 million.
5. ‘The Bob’s Burgers Movie,’ $1.1 million.
6. ‘The Bad Guys,’ $890,000.
7. ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once,’ $959,631.
8. ‘Downton Abbey: A New Era,’ $830,000.
9. ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2,’ $228,000.
10. ‘Brian and Charles,’ $198,000.
‘Toy Story’ launched Pixar in 1995 and its four films have made over $3 billion. ‘Toy Story 3’ and ‘Toy Story 4’ also both broke the $1 billion mark.
Including international showings, which grossed $34.6 million, ‘Lightyear’s’ global opening weekend totals to $85.6 million.
The family audience has proved a little more reluctant than other segments to return to movie theaters.
Many studios, including Disney and Pixar, have opted for streaming or hybrid releases for their animated titles.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the company has sent its Pixar titles – ‘Soul,’ ‘Luca,’ and ‘Turning Red’ – directly to Disney+ free for subscribers. Disney’s other big animated titles, ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ and ‘Encanto’ got hybrid releases.
‘There may have been a little confusion about whether it’s just in theaters,’ Dergarabedian said. ‘This is a movie that is going to have to be marketed in real time as family audiences connect the dots.’
Critics were mostly favorable to ‘Lightyear,’ which features Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear and a supporting voice cast that includes Keke Palmer and Taika Waititi. Directed by Angus MacLane, it currently holds a 77% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences gave it an A- CinemaScore.
With a reported production budget of $200 million, which doesn’t account for the millions spent on marketing and promotion, ‘Lightyear’ has a long journey ahead of it to get to profitability.
But it could also have a slow, steady burn over the summer. And it’s the only big family offering playing in theaters until ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ opens July 1.
‘Jurassic World: Dominion,’ meanwhile, has now earned over $622.2 million worldwide with $259.2 million of that coming from U.S. and Canadian theaters. It’s only the seventh movie released during the pandemic to surpass $600 million.
In its fourth weekend, ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ dropped only slightly, bringing in an additional $44 million to take third place. Its domestic total is now at $466.2 million. Globally, the high-flying sequel has grossed over $885 million.
Dergarabedian said it’s especially notable that there are three movies made over $40 million this weekend.
‘We haven’t seen that in a while,’ he said. ‘We have a summer movie season here.’
Rounding out the top five are ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ with $4.2 million and ‘The Bob’s Burgers Movie’ with $1.1 million.
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