Lightyear: soft Friday box office puts weekend win in jeopardy

by Natalie Kiser

lightyear box office

Earlier this week, we predicted that Lightyear would have an easy weekend win, with a projected $80 million launch. Alas, our numbers were way off this time (although our track record is still really good), with THR reporting that Lightyear’s Friday box office was softer than anticipated. In fact, the Pixar tentpole is in danger of losing the box office race to Jurassic World: Dominion in its second week. The trade reports Lightyear made $20.7 million Friday compared to Dominion’s $15.7 million. Still, the gap may be narrowed as the holiday weekend goes on (Monday is Juneteenth, which is now a federal holiday in the U.S).

Revised estimates are putting the Lightyear debut at $52-55 million for the weekend, which may not be big enough to fight off Dominion. Currently, THR pegs the dinosaur sequel coming in at $57 million. Even if Lightyear makes it to number one, the launch will undoubtedly be underwhelming, especially if you consider that Sonic the Hedgehog 2 launched earlier this year with $72 million. This was before moviegoers started returning to theaters en-masse thanks to Tom Cruise and Doctor Strange.

Despite the soft launch, Lightyear has fared well with critics, earning a 77% fresh rating (we gave it a 7/10) and an A- Cinemascore (the same as Dominion). Could it be that audiences are more accustomed to watching animated movies at home after all of the Pixar movies that went directly to Disney+ (Turning Red, Luca, Soul)? It’s a troubling development, as a Buzz Lightyear Toy Story spin-off seemed a sure thing at the box office. There’s a chance family audiences discover the movie as the summer goes on, but here’s the thing – they don’t have to. They know that sooner or later (and I’d bet it will be sooner), the film will show up on Disney+. An opening like this is the danger of audiences being programmed to see a certain kind of movie at home.

Will you see Lightyear in theaters?