Lightyear, the first Pixar movie to hit theaters since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, hit Disney Plus on Wednesday, more than six weeks after it hit theaters.
This was Disney’s first attempt to give Pixar an exclusive big-screen performance again, but so far the response to Astral has been disappointing – enough to entice some stores to reveal the epithet “bomb“.
Previously, every Pixar movie from Onward in February 2020 essentially skipped theaters to stream on Disney Plus: Soul in December 2020, Luca in June 2021, and Turning Red in February 2022. And for Disney movies, more broadly the streaming strategy was all over the map. Encanto spent a month in theaters before streaming. Down Admire‘s that was two. West Side Story hit Disney Plus about three months after it only appeared in theaters.
The last time Disney moved an animated movie from cinemas to streaming, it became a phenomenon. The Landing of Astral on Disney Plus will prove whether the movie can repeat Encanto’s success, or whether the premiere of the Toy Story story was a misfire.
Last year, ticket sales for adult films began to soar as movie fans emerged from the pandemic and cinemas began to reopen. However, family movies, Pixar’s specialty, struggled with theater attendance. Parents, compared to other adult viewers, were more alert to the risks of bringing children into crowded cinemas, while the coronavirus continued to mutate and circulate. The COVID vaccine for children was not available until the day after Lightyeara was opened, and coronavirus infection in children could mean missing weeks of study or day care and derail other family plans.
Putting Pixar movies directly on Disney Plus was essentially a strategy of both attracting more subscribers and keeping those it has. Kareem Daniel, Disney’s executive director responsible for such distribution talks, noted in a Turning Red announcement that both Soul and Luca were “enthusiastically received” by Disney Plus subscribers as they went straight to the service.
And by sending three Pixar movies directly to Disney Plus, Disney could also protect Pixar’s pristine reputation as critics. and box office successes, according to some experts: If Disney doesn’t put Pixar movies in theaters, they can’t have disappointing theatrical screenings.
A bust or a thrust?
In the months leading up to Lightyear’s premiere, viewers flocked to the franchise films. Spider-Man: No Way Home was the first movie since the pandemic to surpass a billion dollars worldwide at the box office. Since then, Top Gun: Maverick has too, and Jurassic World Dominion and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness are close.
But so far Lightyear’s box office results have been disappointing. Globally, Lightyear grossed $ 222 million. Toy Story 4, Pixar’s latest release free from any pandemic disturbance, was inches from $ 1 billion at the global box office at the same stage. And it’s not like all family movies have problems. Minions: The Rise of Gru was released a month after Astral, but has more than tripled its global gross value.
In the case of another Disney family movie – Encanto – the period of theatrical exclusivity actually dampened its popularity.
Encanto was released in theaters on November 24; a month later, it became available for streaming on Disney Plus at no additional cost to all subscribers.
During Encanto’s upscale theatrical performance, his box office performance was mediocre. Total domestic ticket revenue for this period was just $ 86 million. Disney Frozen 2 has soared much further than it did in the first weekend before the pandemic, and even Lightyear, after one month, made $ 115 million.
But when Encanto started streaming it turned into a phenomenon. Encanto soundtrack has increased Billboard charts in first place. Videos with his music numbers are among the most popular songs on YouTube. We Don’t Talk About Bruno, the most famous song from the movie, has become Mem TikTok. But none of this happened until Encanto made its way to Disney Plus.
When Lightyear hits Disney Plus, it can get the rocket acceleration it needs all the time.