Months after the film's release, it was reported that former Pixar CEO and Toy Story director John Lasseter has been extremely critical of this year's Lightyear.
Lasseter has not been in the Pixar office for quite some time, after alleged sexual misconduct toward employees, but he has still been vocal about the happenings at the famed animation studio. The filmmaker is now in charge of Skydance Animation, having jumped on Paramount Picture's Luck midway through production.
Since Lasseter left Pixar, the studio has had a bumpy couple of years. After having to release its film exclusively on streaming during the pandemic, Lightyear was supposed to be the studio's first big splashback at theaters. However, the Toy Story spin-off fell flat, being met with lukewarm critical reception and a subpar box office return that will ultimately lose Disney tens of millions of dollars.
Now, it has been noted that Lasseter, one of the people who built Pixar, has some opinions on how Disney is managing its animation resources.
Former Pixar Executive Slams Lightyear
After having left Pixar in 2018, a new report revealed Toy Story director John Lasseter is "extremely critical" of Disney and Pixar's animated strategy.
In Matthew Belloni's latest newsletter on Puck, the journalist noted that he has heard Lasseter, who is now a part of Skydance Animation, does not like what Disney has done with its animated titles since his departure.
Belloni specifically noted Disney and Pixar's $200 million box office flops Strange World and Lightyear, noting that the former Pixar mainstay has a particular disdain for the Chris Evans-led Toy Story spin-off.
Released back in November, Strange World received the worst audience score in Disney animation history and went on to make a dismal $66.5 million at the box office.
Lightyear fared a little better at the ticket booth but was not the financial juggernaut that past Toy Story titles have been.
Does Disney Animation Have a Problem?
While some have been asking if Disney/Pixar has an animation problem for a number of years now, this report will only amplify that conversation.
Sure, Lasseter, who did not leave in the best of circumstances back in 2018, is going to do everything to promote his new ventures. Plus, with Disney seemingly failing on the animated from, from his point of view, he could see all of this as an opportunity to fill a void that was left by the animated giant.
But it does bring up a fascinating conversation about what Disney is going to do with its animated titles going forward. Even if Lightyear has gotten glowing reviews, it is hard to see a world where a movie like that breaks $1 billion at the box office anymore.
With Disney's move to have a number of Pixar films go straight to Disney+ over the pandemic, it may have cheapened the product from an audience perspective. Not to say these films are/were not good, but this effort to continue to put out films even when there were new movie theaters to put them out to, instead of holding them, may have impacted the way the general audience views Disney and Pixar animation.
Of course, a middling or bad movie is not going to light the world on fire. So the real test will be when the next Disney or Pixar animated masterpiece comes about. What happens when another 10/10 Frozen or Finding Nemo-esque film hits theaters? Will people return for these kinds of movies then?
The House of Mouse is not going to listen to anything John Lasseter has to say, as the filmmaker has been long gone for a number of years, but his critiques might be something to look into.
Both Lightyear and Strange World are streaming now on Disney+.