The film currently sits at just $116 million grossed domestically, and news that it will be available to stream in just two weeks is likely to hinder its remaining theatrical run. Pixar’s worst domestic total for a film in the 21st century belongs to The Good Dinosaur, which grossed only $123 million at the U.S. box office. Lightyear now has only two weeks to pull in another $7 million to avoid taking on that dubious distinction.
One possible reason floated for Lightyear’s poor box office haul was that audiences didn’t want to pay for a film they knew they’d be able to stream if they waited a few weeks. However, we’ve known for months that Dreamworks and Illumination titles will only get 45-day theatrical windows before hitting Peacock, and that knowledge hasn’t hurt the box office performance of Minions: The Rise of Gru in the least. The film, now in its third week, racked up an estimated $26 million over the past weekend, good for second place overall. The latest Minions flick has now grossed $262.5 million in the U.S. and $532.7 million worldwide.
Whether or not Lightyear’s poor performance at cinemas is a cause for its six-week theatrical window, or whether audiences can look forward to the same with future animated titles distributed by Disney, won’t be clear until Disney has another box office hit with the legs to sustain a longer run. The next opportunity for the House of Mouse will come in November, when Strange World hits cinemas.
While Lightyear’s box office struggles are undeniable, the film has received strong critical and audience receptions. Viewers polled by Cinemascore gave the film an average grade of A–, while those at Posttrak gave it an overall positive score of 85% , with 62% saying they would definitely recommend it. It’s not far-fetched to think that the film could find new life once it hits Disney+.