The popular space ranger Buzz, from the iconic film franchise Toy Story, finally got its own film which was released recently theatrically. Disney and Pixar’s Lightyear features the intergalactic adventures of the astronaut Buzz Lightyear, who, after being marooned on a hostile planet with his commander and crew, tries to find a way back home while confronting a threat in the form of the Emperor Zurg. The movie has been co-written and directed by Angus MacLane and produced by Galyn Susman, and stars Chris Evans as the voice of the titular character. Animation Xpress got in touch with the makers of the film to know what went behind the making of this animated feature.
Talking about the Buzz character, MacLane told Animation Xpress, “Lightyear is a sci-fi adventure made to inspire a new generation, Buzz is not a toy, he is a human who is embarked on a space journey. When you make films based on a character from an iconic franchise, you have nothing to start with. We know we got Buzz but we have no clue of what story we’re gonna tell with Lightyear. It took a lot of research and we really worked hard to nerd out and make this the best Buzz Lightyear film we could.”
In the film, we see Buzz along with his commander Alisha Hawthrone and a crew of more than 1,000 scientists and technicians heading home from their latest mission when Buzz’s one wrong decision causes the entire crew to get stranded on the endangered planet. The guilt of Buzz making a critical mistake drives him to find a solution for the mess. MacLane said, “Buzz has always been confident and heroic but in Lightyear we got a chance to show the audience his vulnerable and human side, where he struggles with uncertainties and failures. He enjoys the thrill and adventure around the galaxy and successfully completing missions with his teams.”
The film features characters Alisha Hawthrone, Izzy Hawthrone, Maurice “Mo” Morrison, Darby Steel, Sox, Zurg. Sox is the new addition to the film, a new robotic cat, which is extremely cute and basically exists to make Buzz feel happy. According to the makers, the bond between Sox and Buzz is very emotional and strong.
Making his debut as set art director, Greg Peltz commented, “Lightyear was very special to me. At the beginning when we started working on it, I was very much terrified as it is a very big project. There are many shots in the film and we have crafted each and every part of the movie with so much dedication and creativity. The most interesting part for me was to create spaceships, and it was super fun and exciting. We had wonderful team members who made this film with loads of creativity and passion. Lightyear is the film which I am super proud of.”
The film has drawn references from classic sci-fi live-actions series and movies including Star Wars, Aliens, Star Trek, 2001: A Space Odyssey. “The trip to NASA was hugely informative. We took a lot of inspiration from technology, jet aircrafts, the capsules, space shuttle and we were very particular about making our film look more different and unique than the other movies which came out before,” added Peltz
Highlighting the design process and challenges faced, Peltz shared, “We have almost created 15 spaceships for this film, each with its unique designs. The most challenging part was to create the interiors and make the detailing of each and every props. When you take a look at the film, you can see very small things have been taken care of, for example when Buzz was riding the spaceship, the audience can see the dashboards with all technical switches and equipment. Creating authentic designs takes a lot of effort and time. The interior of the spaceships were designed in such a way that it should appear concrete and real.”
He further added, “I believe that we have done justice to the film. We have created a retro look of the 80’s and 90’s. NASA and spaceships were inspired by 80’s models and we hope when the audience watches the film in theaters they will get a blockbuster feeling of the old 80’s. Each element in the film has been constructed in a way to make it look more detailed and real. We made each-frame with man-made elements like armors, robots, space-ships, which made it feel more classic.”
The Disney Pixar film was released in theaters on 17 June and the film made a business of $85.6 million worldwide in its first opening weekend.