Lightyear Falls Prey To Jurassic World Dominion With Lower Than Expected $50-55 Million Opening

Buzz Lightyear likes to shoot for the stars, per his signature catchphrase: "To infinity and beyond!" But infinity is quite a distance, and past experience proves that setting attainable goals is very important for one's mental health. If Buzz hasn't learned that lesson yet, then the box office will surely hammer it in.

Earlier in the week, when "Lightyear" still preparing for takeoff, original projections saw Disney landing at around $80 million after opening weekend. This certainly wasn't on the high-end of Pixar debuts, especially compared to the $182 million that helped "The Incredibles 2" smash the record, or even the "Toy Story 4" opening weekend of $120 million. But context is important and given how drastically the theatrical landscape has changed, the numbers were bound to stack up differently. 

"Lightyear" has the challenge of arriving at a time when families are still hesitant about making the return to theaters — or at the very least, are a lot pickier about how often they venture out. And it certainly doesn't help that the "Toy Story" spinoff is tasked with breaking a three movie streak of Pixar releasing films straight to streaming on Disney+. Given the circumstances, that projected $80 million was not just reasonable, but also still a massive debut. Unfortunately, it was also an overestimation.

Can Lightyear outpace the dinosaurs?

Variety reports that the latest projections see "Lightyear" tracking for an opening range of $50 to $55 million. The film has underperformed significantly, partly due to being met with stiffer competition than expected. "Lightyear" was expected to unseat "Jurassic World Dominion" as the weekend's highest earner; the Universal film was projected to drop more than 50% in its second weekend, hauling in around $65 million and ultimately clearing a path for Buzz's big takeoff. But "Lightyear" is struggling to overcome the might of those dinos.

The holiday weekend certainly has the power to turn the tide, but it's not expected to go in Buzz's favor. Between Father's Day and Juneteenth, Universal insiders believe "Jurassic World Dominion" could climb as high as $66 million in the next few days (via THR). While Lightyear briefly held the top spot on release night, taking No. 1 on Friday with an opening day gross of $20.7 million, "Dominion" could come out on top by the weekend's end. 

Meanwhile, the other damper on the "Lightyear" buzz (ha ha) is still going strong. "Top Gun: Maverick," that other movie about a rogue pilot with unconventional leadership skills and a tendency to break the rules, is four weeks in and still a force to be reckoned with. The Tom Cruise vehicle is expecting a three-day gross of $40 million that puts it on track to cross the $500 million mark in domestic earnings.

Maybe the problem is that "Lightyear" isn't enough of a dad movie to steal Father's Day. "Jurassic World" and "Top Gun" movie are franchises that are tailor-made for the dad-esque beings in our lives. The same could be said of "Lightyear," but so far, the space rangers are still struggling to keep pace with raptors and fighter jets. All that being said, $55 million is no small feat: meeting these projections would still make "Lightyear" the highest debut for an animated movie since the onset of the pandemic.