Oscar Predictions: Lightyear

The buzz for Disney/Pixar’s Lightyear is just fine, but it’s not in the stratosphere of some of the studio’s other efforts. The origin story for the co-lead of the Toy Story franchise (voiced by Tim Allen for those four pics and by Chris Evans here) is at 84% on Rotten Tomatoes.

If Onward at 88% or Brave at 78% nabbed nominations in the Best Animated Feature Oscar derby, this should manage to do so as well pretty easily. However, let’s see how the competition plays out in the second half of the season. Pixar’s spring title Turning Red has probably reserved a spot and Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio looms. Other hopefuls include Apollo 10 1/2 and Wendell & Wild. 

In the 22 years of its existence, Pixar has taken home exactly half of the Academy’s animation trophies (with Disney traditional picking up four more). Two of them were the third and fourth Toy Story sagas. The category wasn’t around for parts one and two and I bet both would’ve won. That bodes well for Lightyear though the somewhat mixed chatter could complicate matters. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Lightyear Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (06/16): On the eve of its premiere, I’m revising my Lightyear estimate down again – from $95.5M to $85.5M

Blogger’s Note (06/15): Revising my estimate down from $101.8M to $95.5M

Disney-Pixar is banking that the buzz for Lightyear will propel it to a nine figure opening orbit on June 17th. Serving as an origin story for one half of the beloved Toy Story duo, Angus MacLane makes his feature-length directorial debut. Captain America himself Chris Evans takes over vocal duties as the title character, replacing Tim Allen (who was heard in the four TS blockbusters). Additional actors providing the sounds are Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, James Brolin, Taika Waititi, Uzo Aduba, and Isiah Whitlock, Jr.

The Mouse Factory is moving onward with theatrical only outputs for its Pixar brand after Soul, Luca, and Turning Red all hit the streaming circuit on Disney+. The last big screen studio offering was over two years ago with… Onward. 

For over a quarter century, the Toy Story franchise has been a gold mine. In 2010, part 3 premiered with $110 million and eventually earned $415 million domestically. The fourth entry in 2019 built upon that with respective numbers of $120 million and $434 million. They also both took home the Best Animated Feature Oscar.

Lightyear may not quite reach those stratospheric heights since it’s a spin-off, but I don’t think it’ll come in with a whole lot less. I do believe a launch of just under $100 million is feasible.

Lightyear opening weekend prediction: $85.5 million

Oscar Predictions – Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers

John Mulaney and Andy Samberg lend their vocal and comedic talents to Disney’s Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, based on the animated series that started in 1989. Akiva Schaffer (Samberg’s partner in their group The Lonely Island) directs. Other familiar faces behind the pic’s creatures include KiKi Layne, Will Arnett, Eric Bana, Keegan-Michael Key, Tim Robinson, Seth Rogen, J.K. Simmons, and Dennis Haysbert.

Rangers is foregoing the theatrical experience with a Disney+ rollout this Friday. Could the Mouse Factory make a play for a Best Animated Feature nod? With the review embargo lapsing, that seems at least feasible. Sitting at 77% on Rotten Tomatoes, some critics are heaping praise with some comparisons to Who Framed Roger Rabbit. 

On the other hand, the studio will surely push the upcoming Lightyear and this spring’s Turning Red in the category. It remains to be seen whether there’s a significant push for the chipmunks. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: The Bad Guys

We’re not yet a third of the way into 2022 and it’s at least feasible that three of the five eventual Best Animated Feature nominees will have been released. DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys opens this Friday and with a 92% Rotten Tomatoes score, it shouldn’t be counted out for inclusion.

It joins the already out Turning Red (Disney) and Apollo 10 1/2 (Netflix) as viable contenders for the prize. None are shoo-in nominees, but all three had their chances assisted today with the announcement that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has been pushed to 2023.

Bottom line: there’s two-thirds of the year left for other hopefuls to emerge, but The Bad Guys has a fighting shot to make the cut. My Oscar Predictions posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions – Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood

Utilizing similar rotoscoping technology as his earlier animated efforts Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood hits Netflix on Friday after its South by Southwest premiere a couple of weeks back. A coming-of-age tale set during the 1969 Moon landing, early reviews have mostly soared with a 91% Rotten Tomatoes launch.

Linklater is no stranger to the Oscars. He nabbed screenplay nods for Before Sunset and Before Midnight. 2014’s Boyhood was nominated for six categories. Since that effort seven years ago, his follow-ups (Everybody Wants Some!!, Last Flag Flying, Where’d You Go, Bernadette) have all failed to reach the Academy’s radar.

Apollo could change that trajectory with an Animated Feature mention. The critical reaction is strong enough, but let’s see what else lands in the remaining nine months. It’s entirely possible that two of the five eventual contenders (Turning Red and this) are already available for streaming pleasure as of this weekend. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Turning Red

Turning Red is the latest Pixar title and it is out Friday on Disney Plus. The coming-of-age tale comes from director Domee She, who won an Oscar in 2018 for her short film Bao (also from Disney/Pixar).

The review embargo is up today and the result so far is 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Red was originally slated for a theatrical release but the pandemic altered that plan. It will follow in the footsteps of Soul, Raya and the Last Dragon, and Luca. What do they all have in common besides their studio? All were nominated or won (in Soul‘s case) for the Animated Feature Oscar.

With bicoastal limited theatrical showings, Red will qualify for next year’s Academy consideration. For 2021, 60% of the animated movies (Raya, Luca, Encanto) are Mouse Factory products.

While it’s certainly early, critical reaction here indicates this could easily make the cut. It’s also worth noting that Billie Eilish and brother Finneas O’Connell penned some original tunes that could be Original Song hopefuls. If that pans out, Eilish could be gunning for her second nod in a row as she’s currently up for “No Time to Die”. There’s also Ludwig Goransson who scored Red and he’s a previous Oscar winner for Black Panther. 

The other Pixar product comes this summer with Lightyear. I wouldn’t write Red‘s inclusion in blue ink yet, but don’t be surprised if it’s listed a year from now. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…