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Lightyear: Release date, cast and trailer for Toy Story spin-off

Buzz Lightyear is returning to our screens in a new Toy Story spin-off – here's everything we know so far.

Lightyear
Pixar
Published: Monday, 23rd May 2022 at 11:50 am
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There's no doubt that 2022 is shaping up to be a great year for Disney fans, particularly with Lightyear arriving in cinemas.

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The Toy Story prequel/spin-off movie explores the fictional origin story of the titular space hero who would go on to inspire the iconic Pixar character Buzz Lightyear.

Lightyear finds Buzz and his Star Command friends marooned on an alien planet and the titular hero travelling 62 years into the future in an attempt to help them get home, coming into conflict with villainous Emperor Zurg in the process.

Explaining how the movie exists within the Toy Story Universe, Lightyear director and co-writer Angus McLane (Finding Dory) has described it as “Andy’s Star Wars”.

"Now you remember in Toy Story, Andy had a birthday party," McLane said during a press event back in April (via The Iluminerdi).

"His favourite gift was a character that he loved, Buzz Lightyear the Space Ranger. And it was a toy that would redefine playtime for Andy. And I've always wondered what movie was Buzz from, you know?"

He continued: "Why couldn't we just make that movie? So that's what we did. Presenting Lightyear, the movie that Andy saw that changed his life. Andy's Star Wars. A sci-fi epic designed to inspire a new generation."

Chris Evans leads the cast of Lightyear as Buzz alongside Peter Sohn, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, James Brolin and Taiki Waititi.

Read on for everything we know so far about the Lightyear movie.

Lightyear release date

Pixar/ YouTube

Disney fans don't have too long to wait: Lightyear is set to arrive in theatres on Friday 17th June 2022.

The film will inevitably drop on Disney Plus after its cinema run, but a digital release date is yet to be confirmed.

You can sign up to Disney+ for £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year.

Lightyear 2022 cast

Chris Evans (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

In the original Toy Story, Lightyear was voiced by Tim Allen (Last Man Standing).

However, in this 2022 movie, Chris Evans is taking over to voice the iconic character.

Moving from Avengers superhero to Pixar space ranger, Evans is best known for starring in the original Fantastic Four films, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Lives Out, Gifted and of course, the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.

Speaking about his role, Evans said in a statement: "The phrase 'a dream come true' gets thrown around a lot, but I've never meant it more in my life. Anyone who knows me knows that my love for animated films runs deep.

"I can't believe that I get to be a part of the Pixar family and work with these truly brilliant artists who tell stories unlike anyone else. Watching them work is nothing short of magic. I pinch myself every day."

In addition, Dale Soules (Orange Is the New Black), Keke Palmer (Scream Queens) and Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit) have joined the cast and are lending their voices to Buzz Lightyear’s space ranger crew, though which characters they'll be playing is yet to be confirmed.

The cast is rounded out by Uzo AdubaJames BrolinMary McDonald-LewisEfren Ramirez and Isiah Whitlock Jr.

Speaking about the cast, director MacLane said in a statement: “The cast for Lightyear is truly a dream team. Each of the performers immediately inhabited their character, which gave us the opportunity to play a bit during recording sessions.

"This resulted in a level of specificity that elevated the material and brought additional depth to the characters’ relationships. It has been a privilege to work with such a talented and generous cast."

What is Lightyear about?

Lightyear finds Buzz and his Star Command friends marooned on an alien planet 4.2 million light-years from Earth with his commander and their crew.

The movie tells the story of the legendary space ranger as he’s forced to take on time travel and his enemy Emperor Zurg in order to find his way home.

Talking about the premise of the movie, director Angus MacLane said in a statement: "In Toy Story there seemed to be this incredible backstory to him being a Space Ranger that’s only touched upon, and I always wanted to explore that world further."

He continued: “So my Lighytear pitch was, ‘What was the movie that Andy saw that made him want a Buzz Lightyear toy?’ I wanted to see that movie. And now I’m lucky enough to get to make it.”

Lightyear trailer

Pixar released a teaser trailer for Lightyear on 27th October 2021, teasing the slick animation and giving fans a first-look at the original Buzz Lightyear.

In December last year, Pixar announced the news of its release with a 30-second teaser video and a first look at the film's Buzz.

A trailer released in April 2022 gave fans another look at Lightyear as well as introducing the rest of the cast including a rather intense cat.

The latest trailer landed in April 2022, showing Chris Evans’ incarnation of Buzz stranded on an unknown planet as he records an audible mission log.

"After a full year of being marooned, our first hyper speed test flight is a go," he says.

The clip also reveals more about the movie's plot, showing Buzz as he takes on time travel and his enemy Emperor Zurg. Watch below:

Who is Buzz Lightyear based on?

Within the Pixar universe, the toy Buzz Lightyear is modelled after a "real" Space Ranger of the same name, with the toy (voiced by Tim Allen) believing in the first Toy Story film that he is in fact the real Buzz Lightyear whose mission is to protect the galaxy from villain Emperor Zurg.

However, Pixar producers were inspired by Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin, who was the second person to walk on the Moon, when naming Buzz Lightyear, director John Lasseter reveals in a Toy Story 3 featurette.

Toy Story 5 release date – is Lightyear Toy Story 5?

Lightyear is set to be spin-off film within the Toy Story franchise, following the human Buzz Lightyear who inspired the toy of the same name within the film's universe. Therefore, Lightyear won't be considered Toy Story 5 and we'd be very surprised if Woody and toy Buzz made an appearance in the Chris Evans film.

As for whether there will be a Toy Story 5 in the future, Tom Hanks told The Ellen Degeneres Show back in 2019 that Toy Story 4 would be the final film in the franchise – however, other figures behind the series haven't ruled out possible sequels.

Producer Jonas Rivera told the Toronto Sun in 2019 that he has a "never-say-never rule" for the future of Pixar films, while fellow producer Mark Nielsen added: "We thought Toy Story 2 was the perfect ending. And then we thought that against after 3."

While Tim Allen told ET Online: "Once you've gotten to four, you're passed that trilogy [point] so I don't see any reason why they wouldn't do it, certainly. If you ask me, I'd say do five."

More recently, Tony Hale – who joined the Toy Story cast in the fourth film as Sporky – told RadioTimes.com in an exclusive interview that he would do a fifth film, saying: "Here's the deal, if Pixar ever calls...you always just say yes.

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"Those decisions are for other people to make, but I’m always more than willing to be around that environment again because it was so inspiring. I love it."

Check out what else is on with our TV Guide, or visit our Movies hub for more news and features. 
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