One of the more shocking releases in 2022 is Pixar’s Lightyear. The Toy Story franchise has been a cash cow for the brand since the first film in 1995. The story follows the wild adventures of Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the toy gang has resonated with most of the world, and the series has been a smashing success with each film. In what many thoughts were going to be a mistake, Toy Story 4 didn’t turn out to be the disaster that many believed it would be. Toy Story 3 was pretty much deemed the final film of the franchise, with Andy finally going off to college and Woody, Buzz, and the crew finding a new place to call home. Toy Story 4 was praised by both fans and critics and made an astounding $1.079 billion worldwide.
When Pixar and Disney announced a Buzz Lightyear prequel in 2020 following the title character’s story as a young test pilot who became a Space Ranger, captain America star Chris Evans was instantly confirmed to voice the popular character. This shocked many as Tim Allen is the man that brought Buzz Lightyear to life since the first film in 1995. Of course, it helps that Allen had to work with an incredible script and direction, but Allen was as big as the character he voiced. Still, Evans is a popular name, and Pixar is a strong brand, so excitement was still in the air. Then Lightyear reviews were released, and they didn’t even come close to reaching Toy Story standards. The lowest rotten tomatoes score for the franchise is 97% for Toy Story 4. Lightyear only garnered 75%. This is well below Pixar’s standards, as the animation studio usually receives high scores.
Many factors surrounding Lightyear resulted in it only making $226.4 million, most notably the gay kiss that got the film banned in 14 different countries. However, fans felt that Tim Allen voicing the titular character could’ve helped boost the appeal of the Pixar feature. Allen spoke about deciding to return to Lightyear, and the actor noted that the origin story was completely different from the Toy Story movies, “It’s a wonderful story; it just doesn’t seem to have any connection to the toy. It has no relationship to Buzz,” Allen said to Extra. “We talked about this many years ago… but the (top) brass that did the first four movies is not this. It’s a whole new team that had nothing to do with the first movies, and they’re, as I said, I thought it was live-action. When they said, they were doing a live-action, that it would mean real humans, not an animated thing.”
Speculation was still rampant on the reasons Allen wasn’t chosen to reprise his role as Buzz Lightyear, even though he claimed to have turned down the gig. Even Tom Hanks seemed to take a dig at Pixar for not recasting Allen as Buzz Lightyear. However, the actor saw success with Elvis, and the musical biopic went against the animated feature, and he was questioned on how he felt about going against Lightyear, “How about that? I wanted to go head-to-head with Tim Allen, and then they didn’t let Tim Allen do it. I don’t understand that.” He said to Cinemablend.
“Here’s the thing: I want to go back to the theater with a bunch of strangers and leave with something in common. That’s what I want to do and, going to see a movie with [Allen] — I’m looking forward to that.” He added. There’s no telling whether Lightyear would’ve done better at the box office as the gay kiss was another big thing that caused some families to stay away from the film, but Allen would’ve provided a familiarity that fans would’ve loved to have in the prequel.