It wasn't exactly to “infinity and beyond…”
The failure of Lightyear at the box office seems to show a troubling pattern for animated movies.
They just don’t seem to have the impact they once did. As of the time of this writing, Lightyear is on pace for a sub-$200 million take. That is a number once unheard of for the animation giant.
But this seems to have become a worrying trend.
Is it because no one asked for these movies? Do people just not want to go to the theatre any more? And has our content consumption changed forever because of streaming platforms?
Pixar was once an absolute juggernaut and guaranteed money-maker. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. So what is happening — and what is happening to movies in general?
Who Wants to Actually Go to a Movie Anymore?
It takes a lot for me to go to an actual movie theatre these days. There just aren’t enough box office draws to get me to drive across town and pay a lot of money to see something that will probably suck.
When it comes to Pixar, I think families are even more put off than ever. I’ll use my sister as an example: She has three kids and getting them out the door is a juggling process that gives me a migraine just to think about.
Once they actually get to the movies (usually late) it’s then a matter of forking over a small fortune to see the film. For herself and the kids, it’s often around $50.
And don’t forget the snacks that are mandatory for watching a movie. Try to go to a movie with small kids and not let them have popcorn and treats and see how that goes over…
To say that movie refreshment prices at the movies are obscene is an understatement. Even being conservative; we’re looking at least $10 per person.
This trip is now crossing into the hundred-dollar territory. Again, all this for a movie that will probably suck. And one that requires multiple bathroom trips throughout it.
Why would she want to go through this horrific ordeal — and cost — for something she’s been able to get at home for free? And that leads to the next point.
This Falls on Them With the Advent of Disney+
You can make that all streaming services, but Disney+ has re-taught us how to watch Disney content. The pandemic is partly responsible, but when new releases go straight to the streaming service, why would you ever go out to a movie?
Even if a Pixar movie has a theatrical release, it will be up on Disney+ within a few weeks; a month at most. I can wait that out, no problem. And I’m already paying them for the service — why would I pay extra for the inconvenience of having to seek out their movie in another location?
Like many people, the home theatre sets ups we have are now better than anything we had ever dreamt about. The size and quality of TVs and surround sound systems make it nonsensical to go out to see a movie — which often just suck.
Instead of spending the money and hassle to go out to a movie, I can now watch it from the comfort of my own home — and even pause it to go to the bathroom.
Many families with kids seem to see this the same way, and it may explain the lackluster performance of Pixar and animated movies lately. Why would you take your kids through this movie theatre headache for something they can watch at home?
I think Disney has somewhat shot themselves in the foot with Disney+. Since they started releasing their MCU and Star Wars series on the streaming platform and released other Pixar movies there, too, we’ve grown too accustomed to it.
Once we got this convenience, there really is no going back.
The Pandemic has been blamed for a lot of our movie-going habits. But is it really to blame? Despite the restrictions, there continued to be some gigantic hits at the box office.
If the movie is big enough, people will still go.
It just seems the offerings at the movies aren’t as good as they used to be, and the many options at home are better than they’ve ever been.
Did we need a movie like Lightyear? Will companies like Pixar have to think more carefully about what they release instead of just throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks?
Or do people just not care that much about Pixar movies anymore? Have they created enough content to keep us covered for a long time? As of right now, there are 26 different films with at least one more on the way.
Have audiences seen all they need and has that core group grown up and moved on to other things? It seems as if animation studios have been trying to cater to adults as much as kids. Maybe the kids have had enough?
Or is it just that our movie-going habits have changed? It may be a combination of all of these things — but I wouldn’t count on a Rex the Tyrannosaur spin-off anytime soon…