In 2022, Disney had a difficult year. The company inserted itself in the Florida Parental Rights in Education debate and received all the negative press. Later, some Disney producers’ “not-so-secret gay agenda” was revealed. The stock market plunged and Disney’s image was tarnished.
Pixar’s Lightyear was then to become the summer’s biggest animated blockbuster. Buzz Lightyear’s origin story from Toy Story caused controversy right from the beginning. First, Tim Allen would not play the title character in the movie. Chris Evans was replaced by Tim Allen in this Pixar film. It was easy to understand why the movie was about the human inspiration behind the toy character. That’s fair enough.
There was also the issue of the lesbian kissing scene in the movie. This scene caused the most controversy and negative press for Pixar. The parents didn’t want their children exposed to lesbian scenes so they stayed home. Lightyear failed to make it big at the box office. The $200 million animated cartoon brought in only $51 million on its first weekend. Studios expect a huge debut for big-budget movies.
In an interview with The Wrap, Pete Docter, Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer, discussed Lightyear’s failure and offered his reasons.
He said, “We have done a lot of soul-searching because we all love this movie.” We love the characters and the story. The most likely reason we didn’t succeed in terms of what went right is that we expected too much from the audience.
“When they hear Buzz they are like, great, where is Mr. He continued, “And then we drop them into this science fiction film that’s Buzz,” he said. “And then, we drop them in this science fiction movie that they’re like: What?”
Lightyear may have been an unexpected treatment of beloved character moviegoers did not expect. Docter believes that the studio did not do enough to prepare audiences for what they would receive.
He said, “Even though they have read the material in print, it was just too distant in both concept and in the way that the characters were drawn, that were portrayed.” It was more science fiction… However, the characters in “Toy Story” are much larger and I believe there was a disconnect between people’s expectations and what we were actually giving them.
Docter is an expert in his field. After John Lasseter’s allegations of sexual misconduct, Docter has led the transition for the animation studio. Docter is the only person to have won three Oscars for Best Animated Feature. Docter may have a point.
It is impossible to ignore the controversy Lightyear sparked. Docter must have been aware of all this and knew that it was a factor in the film’s failure. Docter could make excuses or overlook the obvious.
Docter might be trying to avoid the controversy entirely. Docter is a Christian and a strong believer. However, his views on the LGBTQ (and sometimes Y!) movement aren’t always clear. He might have avoided the lesbian kiss during the interview to avoid hot-button topics.
Lightyear didn’t make it to the top of the box office, regardless of other factors. It was the lesbian controversy that had to be there, and it’s difficult to understand why the studio’s head didn’t acknowledge this.