BO Report: ‘Lightyear’ launches below ‘Top Gun: Maverick’, ‘Jurassic World Dominion’

'Lightyear' (© 2021 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.)

Seems Disney/Pixar’s Lightyear hasn’t quite reached infinity and beyond – at least not yet, with the animated film trailing Top Gun: Maverick and Jurassic World Dominion at the box office last weekend.

The Toy Story spin-off bowed in third position to $2.9 million from 543, or $3 million with previews – a screen average of $5,419.

Lightyear is the first Pixar film to be released in cinemas since the pandemic, with Soul, Luca and Turning Red having gone straight to Disney+, and has a reported production budget of $US200 million.

Depicting Buzz Lightyear’s origin story – with the action figure voiced this time by Chris Evans – the film earned $US51 million Stateside, a result that has been regarded as disappointing with projections having been around $US71 million.

Wallis Cinemas David Simpson tells IF he anticipated an underwhelming result for the film.

“It’s regrettably missing everything we know and love about Pixar,” he says.

However, Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell says it is too early to predict the trajectory of the film with school holidays about to begin around the country.

“I have to say that Lightyear was a little softer than we hoped over the weekend, but it is too early to judge it with holidays around the corner… and I think it will be a longer game for it as a result of it releasing so far before holidays,” he tells IF.

Village Cinemas national programming manager Geoff Chard echoes the sentiment, stating: “Lightyear did fall a bit short of our estimates, but that mirrors the situation overseas and particularly in the US. But with the school holidays in Victoria commencing from this weekend, we’re hopeful of a turnaround on that title. But it will face stiff competition with Minions: The Rise of Gru opening this week, which is clearly the most anticipated family title. The last film in the series, Despicable Me 3, grossed over $32 million in Australia and we’re more than confident that this film can surpass that total.”

Overall the top 20 films delivered $17 million last weekend, down 27 per cent on the previous, according to Numero data.

More than 90 per cent of that $17 million is shared between Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World Dominion and Lightyear, with Dell noting it is the first time we have had since the summer of 2019/20 that there have been three major titles in the market.

This weekend sees the release of Elvis and Minions: Rise of Gru. Many exhibitors have reported strong pre-sales for Baz Luhrmann’s tale of The King.

“Our Elvis pre-sales are massive with our opening night event having long sold out all 700 seats,” Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace GM Alex Temesvari tells IF.

“Expecting a huge weekend of trade for everybody with so many major titles in release.”

Dell says while he has seen great upfront interest and excitement around Baz’s Queensland-shot drama, starring Austin Butler as Elvis, he believes it will be hard to predict its performance.

“The long run time is a bit of an issue, and the movie itself may be a bit different from what some of the older audience are expecting, but I think it has a good chance of Baz’s reputation bringing in younger audiences who weren’t even alive when the King left the building. I think it will open well and have good legs beyond school holidays.”

He is more certain about Rise of Gru, stating: “It will play a bit younger and broader than Lightyear (which is a bit more cerebral!) and will act as a good foil, but I expect it to do huge numbers over the next month.”

Last weekend saw the no. 1 spot was returned to Maverick, which was last weekend knocked off by Dominion.

Audiences continue to feel the need for speed, with the Paramount title collecting another $6.9 million in its fourth frame – a dip of just 22 per cent – to move to $56.4 million. That result sees the film enter the top 10 highest grossing films of all time in Australia, surpassing The Avengers ($53.5 million) and Bohemian Rhapsody ($55.3 million).

Chard notes it is phenomenal to see only a 22 per cent drop off after a public holiday long weekend.

“Just how high it can get in the All-Time Australia records is now the question; can it knock Spider-Man: Far From Home off its #5 spot at $81m? Or will it surpass Avengers: Endgame at $84m?:

Dell is amazed to see the film continuing to sell out cinemas on his circuit.

“We’ve seen this a little before with movies like Mamma Mia, Avatar etc. that played for months, but rarely with a movie targeting primarily a male older demographic, which is now reaching all demographics, holding so well four weeks into its play – we could still be running it at Christmas at this rate!”

Globally, Maverick has crossed $US800 million, making it the highest-grossing film of Cruise’s career.

Jurassic World Dominion tumbled 52 per cent in its sophomore outing, garnering $5.8 million, advancing to $21.9 million for Universal. Worldwide the film has already crossed $US600 million.

In the fourth spot behind Lightyear was fellow Disney title Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which after seven orbits totals $37.8 million – with the weekend receipts for the Marvel film $291,782.

Now 10 weekends in, Everything Everywhere All At Once continues to benefit from strong word of mouth, adding another $146,148 to its pot for Roadshow to move to $5.9 million.

Back in the top 10, in sixth position, was local film The Drover’s Wife of Molly Johnson, directed by Leah Purcell, which earned $111,211. That result is almost to the dollar what it made in the previous weekend – suggesting the Roadshow stablemate is also benefiting from WOM. Overall, the film has so far amassed $1.6 million across seven weekends.

Behind The Drover’s Wife was another Australian debut from a female director, Renee Webster’s How To Please a Woman, which now stands at $2.2 million after collecting $82,539 in its fifth weekend for Madman.

Universal’s The Bad Guys was just behind, gathering $82,514 in its 12th weekend to move to just shy of $16 million, while stablemate Downton Abbey: A New Era is edging towards $8 million after another $72,371.

Rounding out the top 10 was Transmission’s Operation Mincemeat, now at $2.3 million after ringing up $70,039 in its sixth frame.