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Lightyear Had A Different Opening Scene Until Bob Iger Inspired Its Change With One Important Question

Movies go through all sorts of changes en route to the theater. Scripts are rewritten. Scenes get cut out during the editing process. Movie-making is a fluid affair. This tends to happen less on an animated feature, as every sequence takes so long to animate, wasting time on a scene that isn’t going to survive the process doesn’t make sense. But Lightyear, the new Pixar adventure starring Chris Evans, Keke Palmer and James Brolin, apparently had an alternate opening sequence, which got changed when former Walt Disney Chairperson Bob Iger tossed a question at the film’s director.

Angus MacLane recently sat down with CinemaBlend as part of the press day for Lightyear, and in addition to opening up about the LGBTQ+ moment he pushed to keep in the movie, the director told us his original plans for the movie’s opening. As he explained: 

Originally, the opening was the first mission. Because we knew we wanted time dilation. But we didn’t know why we wanted time dilation. And so, the crash allowed us to have that. But, more than anything, we started the film – and I don’t think I’ve really mentioned this yet – but Buzz wasn’t a Space Ranger when we started. And it was about him becoming a Space Ranger. And what happened was, it took too long to get him into… it became like, ‘Yeah, yeah. I know he becomes a Space Ranger!’ So, as an audience member… it was actually Bob Iger who was like, ‘Why can’t he just start in the suit?’ And we were like, ‘He can’t because… wait, yeah, why can’t he?’ So then, we added (how) we’ll give you Buzz Lightyear action right up at the front so the audience WANTS to get back to that. They feel that need to like, ‘Yeah, get him back in the suit!’ And so when he gets the suit, you’re like, ‘Great, this is what he wants. He wants to be in the nostalgia of what he was.’ And so that became a story point.

As most of us know by this point (unless you are Patricia Heaton), Lightyear is supposed to be the movie that Andy from Toy Story watched that made him want to own a Buzz Lightyear toy to begin with. The officially licensed toy from the Lightyear movie can’t use Chris Evans’ voice, so it used Tim Allen… and that’s why Allen isn’t voicing Buzz in the new movie. But you can understand why Angus MacLane might have felt the need to overexplain Buzz’s origin in this movie, given that this would have been the first time that audiences were meeting the character. Still, Iger suggesting that they just jump right in with Buzz being a Space Ranger already was the smarter play. 

The ending of Lightyear suggests that there are more missions Pixar could tell in this universe, and still not upset the timeline that the studio established with Toy Story. If Lightyear was a success in Andy’s world, the fictional studio behind it no doubt made sequels. Except, Lightyear wasn’t hugely successful in our world, failing to beat Jurassic World: Dominion at the box office and just barely topping the behemoth Top Gun: Maverick in its fourth weekend of screenings. So this might be a one and done. 

There are still plenty of movie making their way to theaters this year, so bookmark our guide to the upcoming 2022 movie releases and check it often.

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.