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'Lightyear' opening exclusively in theaters 'a really, really important move for Disney,' analyst says

·Senior Reporter
·2 min read

Disney Pixar's "Lightyear" (DIS) is one of the first Pixar films to debut exclusively in theaters since the start of the pandemic, which saw many animated films head straight to Disney+.

"This was a really, really important move for Disney to do at this point in time," Geetha Ranganathan, senior media analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, told Yahoo Finance. "Everybody was looking at 'Lightyear' to really signal what direction Disney was going to take, at least with Pixar brands."

Industry watchers are expecting a strong opening weekend following the successful debuts of "Top Gun: Maverick" and "Jurassic World: Dominion." Ranganathan said she is particularly bullish about the film's domestic debut given the long Juneteenth weekend that includes Father's Day.

"There's a lot of pent up demand for animated films and for family films," the analyst said, adding she would not be surprised if the film hit $400 million for its total domestic haul.

The last "Toy Story" film ('Toy Story 4') reached a domestic total of $434 million.

'Lightyear' (Courtesy: Disney/Pixar)
'Lightyear' (Courtesy: Disney/Pixar)

There's one place that the film won't show up: the U.A.E.

Earlier this week, the United Arab Emirates’ Media Regulatory Office announced that it would ban the "Toy Story" spinoff due to its "violation of the country’s media content standards."

Although the government body did not reveal which part of the movie was in violation of those standards, executive director Rashid Khalfan Al Nuaimi told Reuters that the film was banned due to the inclusion of "homosexual" characters in several scenes.

Disney reinstated the same-sex kiss scene following internal backlash over the company's handling of Florida's Parental Rights in Education Act, or what critics have dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill.

Deadline reports that, in addition to the UAE, the film will not show in other Middle East markets such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar. Nor will it go to theaters in Malaysia or Indonesia.

"I don't really think it's going to affect the box office performance in any meaningful way," Ranganathan said.

Disney did not respond to Yahoo Finance's request for comment.

Alexandra is a Senior Entertainment and Food Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193 and email her at alexandra.canal@yahoofinance.com

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