Tom Hanks wanted to battle Tim Allen at the box office. ‘Lightyear’ team had other plans
Tom Hanks doesn’t think “Lightyear” is valid without the voice of the man who made Buzz Lightyear famous.
“Lightyear,” the new Buzz Lightyear-centered spinoff of the “Toy Story” franchise that starred Hanks and Tim Allen, follows the green-suited hero around the galaxy as he attempts to escape the reach of the evil Zurg.
In a departure from tradition, though, the new movie stars Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear — rather than Allen, who has voiced the animated character since 1995.
That decision left Hanks, a.k.a. Woody, scratching his head. The actor, who stars in Baz Luhrmann’s new “Elvis” — which opened one weekend after “Lightyear” — said he had been excited to compete against his friend for America’s eyeballs, until he heard the team had gone in a different direction.
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“I wanted to go head-to-head with Tim Allen, but they didn’t let him do it,” he recently told Cinema Blend. “I don’t understand that.”
“But just as long as people come back to the movie theater,” he continued. “I want to go back into the theater with a bunch of strangers, and leave with something in common.”
Allen sounded equally confused about the spinoff but added that he had tried to “stay out of it” because the people involved weren’t the same as on the original.
“We talked about this many years ago, and I said, ‘What a fun movie this could be,’” he told Extra last week. “But the brass that did the first four movies is not ... this is a whole new team that had nothing to do with the first movies.
“But there’s really no ‘Toy Story’ Buzz without Woody,” he continued. “I’m not sure what the idea is. I’m a plot guy. When this was done in 1997, it seemed to be a big adventure story. [This] is a wonderful story, it just doesn’t seem to have any connection to the toy. It has no relationship to Buzz.”
Released June 17, “Lightyear” floundered at the box office, bringing in just $50 million domestically in its first week before dropping 65% to $17.7 million in the second week. (For reference, the film’s production budget was $200 million, and 2019’s “Toy Story 4” brought in $120 million in its first week.)
Buzz Lightyear is voiced by Chris Evans, and he’s not a toy, in his own ‘Toy Story’ spinoff adventure.
For what it’s worth, though, Evans paid his respects to Allen, saying he studied his trajectory to help prepare for the role.
“The reason we’re doing this movie is because Tim Allen made such an iconic impact,” Evans told USA Today around the time “Lightyear” was released. “Not only would you be a fool to not take his interpretation because it worked so well, but the truth is this character is in fact the human version of that toy, so there does need to be overlap in terms of their cadence and nature.”
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