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Lightyear: Release Date, Cast, And Other Quick Things We Know About The Pixar Movie

Lightyear (2022)

Ever since Pixar's inception, Buzz Lightyear has remained a key player in the company's ever-sustaining longevity. Arguably the studio's most recognizable character, Pixar has been adamant to tell more Toy Story tales — or Toy Stories — with the space ranger at the forefront. But now, it's time for the cadet to go to infinity... and, of course, beyond.

Indeed, the famous spaceman will finally have a Pixar movie of his own with Lightyear, the 26th feature film from the multi-award-winning animation house. With Chris Evans lending his voice to the galaxy-hopping journeyman, this Buzz Lightyear won't be the same Buzz that audiences grew up with over the decades, particularly as this variation of the character will follow the origins of the astronaut character who inspired the toy, not Andy's plastic friend. We're still learning more information about this June 2022 release, but we know a few key details about the upcoming movie, which we'll share with you now.

Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story 3

Lightyear’s Release Date Is Set For June 17, 2022

Infinity isn't so far away. Indeed, Lightyear, the new animated origin story for the galaxy-searching space ranger, is slated to be released on June 17th, 2022 — less than a year from this writing. While Disney has built a nasty habit of dropping their original Pixar movies on Disney+ in lieu of a theatrical rollout, this solo re-imagining is apparently getting a traditional release, much like Turning Red before it. Lightyear is currently in production now, but Disney appears confident that it'll be ready to go by next summer.

Chris Evans - Knives Out

Chris Evans Will Voice Buzz Lightyear

It's hard to imagine anything other than Tim Allen's voice coming out of Buzz Lightyear's mouth. While several other voice actors have been heard as the space cadet over the years, including Patrick Warburton, Pat Fraley, and Corey Burton, the movies have seen the Home Improvement star behind the voice booth (with the exception of Toy Story 3's Spanish Mode Buzz, voiced by Javier Fernandez-Peña). But that's now set to change.

When Lightyear was announced, it was revealed that Chris Evans, not Tim Allen, would lend his movie star presence to this ever-enduring planet-bouncing, super suit-wearing space ranger. While Toy Story fans were initially concerned, loudly wondering if this meant the end of Allen's time with the character, Disney/Pixar quickly clarified that this version of Buzz isn't the one that we've known over the last few decades. That said, it's unclear how long Evans is expected to voice this version of Buzz after this solo movie.

Buzz Lightyear Commercial in Toy Story

The Movie Will Tell The Definitive Origin Story Of Buzz Lightyear, The Hero Who Inspired The Toy

When Lightyear was announced, there was understandably some confusion. Were we getting a spin-off centered around Buzz Lightyear, the co-star of four Toy Story movies, or the man who inspired the toy? Perhaps expecting this initial puzzlement, Disney was quick to note that this animated movie would be centered around the futuristic space hero who inspired the toy, not the miniature model that we've known in the past.

While this variation of the character won't be a huge departure from the Buzz we know, it should be made clear that Disney/Pixar is telling the definitive origin story of the space ranger character, not the self-involved plastic plaything, at the core of this otherwise toy-based franchise.

Finding Dory

Lightyear Is Directed By Finding Dory’s Angus MacLane

Angus MacLane might not be a household name like Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton, but he's been a veteran of the pioneering animation company for well over two decades. First working as an animator on A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2, MacLane has risen the ranks into directing over the past few years, notably with his work on Toy Story Toons: Small Fry and Toy Story of Terror. In 2016, the veteran employee co-directed Finding Dory alongside Stanton, and now, MacLane will finally make a Pixar movie of his own with Lightyear. Not a bad trajectory to go from lowly animator to infinity and beyond!

"Soul: Pete Doctor Official Movie Interview - Disney+, Pixar" YouTube Interview

Pete Docter Has Wanted To Make This Movie Since The First Toy Story

Buzz Lightyear has been a core character in Pixar's foundation since the very beginning. The springy, laser-pointing, outer space-bound would-be ranger is one of Pixar's most memorable and marketable personalities, and it was always a desire on Pete Docter's part to give the guy his own space-ranging adventure. During Lightyear's presentation in December's Disney Investor Event (via Pixar Post), the studio head claimed that the company has been eager to tell the character's origin story from the early get-go, and he's grateful to finally have this opportunity with this movie. Here's what Docter said:

At first glance, you might think, 'this is a Toy Story film.' Well, not so fast! See, back when we created the first Toy Story, we designed Buzz Lightyear with the idea that he was a toy based on some really cool character from an epic blockbuster film. Well, all these years later we decided it's time to make that film.

Chris Evans - Knives Out

Chris Evans Was ‘Smiling’ From ‘Ear To Ear’ For The Whole Pitch

Outside of the general logline, we don't know a whole lot about what's set in store for Lightyear. Given how much affection people have for this plastic space ranger and his (presumably) flesh-and-blood counterpart, expectations are cautiously high. That said, even the biggest Pixar fans are wondering why this standalone story needs to be told.

We don't necessarily have an answer there, but we do know that Chris Evans is quite happily hyping up this upcoming project on his Instagram, particularly as he entices Pixar fans by letting them know that he was "smiling" from "ear to ear" for the whole pitch of this new movie. He also wants everyone to "rest easy" and "get very excited," because this one is "gonna [be] special." While the actor has a lot to say about this intriguing new project, Evans also claims that he "can't even put" his "excitement into words." So we'll have to wait a little bit to see what's in store with this upcoming movie.

Buzz Lightyear of Star Command

Lightyear Isn’t The First Solo Story For The Famous Pixar Character

Lightyear isn't the first time we've gone to infinity and beyond with the galaxy-famous astronaut. In addition to leading every Toy Story movie, Buzz Lightyear was also the main character behind UPN/ABC's animated series, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, as well as the direct-to-video spin-off movie, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins, and an accompanying video game for the short-lived series. Similar to Lightyear, the 2D animated show followed the intergalactic adventures of Buzz Lightyear, the space ranger, opposed to the action figure that fans know and love. That said, it's unknown if this movie and this 2000s cartoon show will cover similar ground.

Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story 4

Pixar's New Movie Is Produced By Toy Story 4’s Galyn Susman

From the early days of Pixar, Galyn Susman has been a key player in the ever-growing success of the company. Starting as a lighting supervisor and modeling artist on the original Toy Story, the company's mainstay would continue to work on A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo in a number of professional positions before she was elevated to associate producer on Ratatouille. From there, Susman would be creatively involved in several short films and TV specials, including Angus MacLane's BURN-E and Toy Story of Terror, before she became the producer behind Toy Story 4.

Now, Galyn Susman will continue her influence with Lightyear, her biggest project yet.

Lightyear will fly into theaters on June 17th, 2022.

Will Ashton

Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.