What Strong SVOD Ratings For ‘Lightyear’ Mean For Disney’s Theatrical Future

THE HERO’S BEST FRIEND Disney and Pixar’s “Lightyear” is a brand-new and unique feature film that tells the ultimate tale of Buzz Lightyear (voice of Chris Evans)–the protagonist who created the toy, which follows the famous Space Ranger on an intergalactic adventure. However, Buzz isn’t on his own. He lives with a loyal robotic cat named Sox (voice by Peter Sohn). An unintentionally packed bag filled with gadgets and toys inside a cute cat-themed packaging, Sox is Buzz’s go-to companion and friend. Produced by Angus MacLane (co-director “Finding Dory”) and produced by Galyn Susman (“Toy Story That Time Forgot”), The sci-fi action adventure will be released on June 17, 2022. (c) 2022 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

It’s possible that we could include Lightyear from Pixar’s Lightyear to the list of recent films that did poorly at the box-office but were (at least for the duration of a weekend) well-received in the world of streaming. The Nielsens have been released from August 1 to August 7. There are several big opening weekends scheduled for some of the most acclaimed films available on Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and Prime Video. Then, Lightyear is tops for movies, with 1.306 billion minutes watched during its initial five days (it came out on August 3, which was Wednesday). This is equivalent to 13 million total viewings of the 105-minute Pixar (or around 100 minutes fewer credit sequences) movie that was released theatrically. In terms of raw minutes (differing time-to-runs aside), it’s roughly the same as Sing 2’s 1.26-billion-minute debut of Sing 2on Netflix and the 1.33 billion minutes made from Ryan Reynolds’ Netflix original The Adam Projection its opening weekend.

It’s just below Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness(1.43 billion minutes or 11 million views) and the biggest of the year’s streaming debut with Disney+’s Turning Red(1.7 billion minutes, or approximately 18 million viewers) in the last few SVOD big-names. Lightyear stumbled somewhat ( but not entirely) due to the fact that some viewers waited until it was streaming. But, I’d argue that the release of The Lightyear in theaters in the first place in the first place, even for an incredibly unremarkable run ($118 million in the US and $226 million globally on a budget of $200 million) which was a massive boost to its streaming success. The movie Turning Reposted an astronomical Disney+ debut, but the same was true of Encanto(2.2 billion mins for the show’s 107 minutes released last Christmas) following an undoubtedly compromised time frame of 31 days. This means we’re dealing with the most well-known Disney movies that played in theaters or were intended to be screened. These numbers support the idea of Disney films playing in theaters.

There was always a fear that the dreadful theatrical release of Lightyear would make Disney unable to make money from distribution and marketing. This would make the film less of an issue for Disney+. We’re aware that box-office success does not mean that streaming isn’t successful; however, what happens if there is a box-office failure? While the Chris Evans-led Toy Storyspin-off/origin story/etc. Might have been slipping off the cliff after the initial five days. We cannot say that its lackluster theatrical performance hindered a top-quality streaming launch. If a bombing of a tentpole in theaters isn’t a problem for the streaming potential, why not throw the dice on something similar to (and I’m aware that it’s not too late to alter the course now) Hocus Pocus 2 or Amy Adams’ Disenchanted? If they do well in the theater, that’s a profit. If not, their existence as theatrical releases can still enhance the value of streaming.

(L-R): Amber Midthunder as Naru and Dane DeLiegro as the Predator in 20th Century Studios’ PREY exclusive to Hulu. Photograph by David Bukach. (c) 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights All Rights Reserved.

Compared with the rave reviews and the awe-inspiring anticipation, Prey debuted on Hulu with just 585 million minutes. This is a lot for what Hulu said was their largest opening weekend ever, which translates to around 6 million views of the fantastic Amber Mid thunder, a star-studded the Predator prequel. It’s not too bad, especially considering that the number of subscribers isn’t as significant as Netflix or specific to brands like Disney+. The figure is also about 63% of all the viewers of the Sony film “Uncharted,” which aired on the network in May.(1.104 billion hours of the film’s 116 minutes Tom-Hall-Mark Wahlberg action film) during the first week of its Netflix debut. It’s following the film made $400 million global gross with an estimated budget of $120 million. The 147-minute movie by Ron Howard Thirteen Lives got an extended theatrical run of a week before the film’s Prime Video debut and nabbed just 323 million hours. The theaters might have helped in this case, or the genre of movies not watched in theaters is now the type of film nobody manages on streaming.

Could the non-commercial, real-life rescue film, which is more akin in tone to Flight 93 than Apollo 13, have had a better time at home with the publicity that comes with a theatrical release? It shouldn’t have been a problem. Also, I don’t think it was. the movie would have been a theatre success, but not with the basis of a budget of $65 million for a non-star, period piece film within a franchise that’s never truly exploded beyond the success of a B-movie. But a minor theatrical release could have made it a significant streaming movie. If a studio values the streaming format as over-dramatic, then marketing the theatrical version could be considered a reasonable cost to increase the streaming value. Except for Netflix, most SVOD success stories were theater-based or were intended to be dramatic. If Robert Zemeckis’ Pinocchio pulls Pixar/Walt-Disney Animation level opens weekend SVOD numbers are different, then that’s a whole other discussion. At the moment, it’s Mulan over Lady and the Tramp..

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Samatha Vale
Samatha a senior writer for HC's entertainment team. She is an entreprenuer, mother and an excellent writer. She's also an avid reader, music enthusiast and all around inquisitive person - which is just a nice way of saying she's nosy.

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