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'Lightyear' teases time travel & confirms theatrical release in new trailer for 'Toy Story' spinoff

Starring Chris Evans as the voice of Buzz, Lightyear hits the big screen June 17.

By Josh Weiss
A still from Lightyear (2022)

Well, it's official, folks: Lightyear will be the first Pixar project since 2020's Onward to receive an exclusive release in theaters. Disney confirmed the news with a new trailer this week. Since the COVID-19 pandemic first began two years ago, three separate Pixar outings (Soul, Luca, and Turning Red) have all gone straight to Disney+.

Starring Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger) in the titular role, the upcoming film centers around the brave Space Ranger of Star Command who inspired the best-selling action figure over in the Toy Story universe. The latest batch of sci-fi footage gives us a little more intel on a plot involving time travel and, of course, Emperor Zurg (James Brolin).

After he and his crew (led by Uzo Aduba's Commander Alisha Hawthorne) are marooned on a planet 4.2 million lightyears from Earth, Buzz mounts a daring rocket launch along with brutally honest robotic feline named Sox (Peter Sohn).

The test mission, which is only supposed to last a few minutes, ends with Buzz and Sox traveling through a wormhole and 60 years into the future. Once there, he must team up with the Junior Zap Patrol, a collection of inexperienced recruits headed up by Alisha's grand-daughter, Izzy (Keke Palmer). Taika Waititi and Dale Soules play the other Zap members: Mo Morrison and Darby Steel.

Watch the new trailer below:

Helmed by Angus MacLane (co-director on Finding Dory) and produced by Galyn Susman (Toy Story That Time Forgot), the spinoff will feature the seventh original Pixar score from Oscar-winner Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles, Up).

"I wanted to see about doing a film that was influenced by the ‘77 to ‘91 era of sci-fi films, as far as the cinematic quality and the tangibility of the world and more of the straightforward earnestness of that era," MacLane said during an interview with Collider last year. "I was like, 'Let’s make a straightforward, fun, action-adventure film starring Buzz Lightyear.' And they were like, 'Yeah, sure, that sounds like a good idea. Let’s make that movie.'"

When asked why he cast Evans in the leading role (Tim Allen voices Lightyear in the Toy Story franchise), the filmmaker explained:

"I wanted the film to have like a gravitas to it and a seriousness to it, but also have an actor who could bring comedy with that seriousness. He was really the first and only choice. I didn’t have a number two. It was very clear from the get-go. It was like, 'If you were gonna make a legitimate sci-fi film about Buzz Lightyear, who would you get? Well, Chris Evans.' You need someone that has that star power. If it had to be live-action, who would do it? He can do both."

Mary McDonald-Lewis (onboard computer I.V.A.N.), Isiah Whitlock Jr. (Commander Burnside), Efren Ramirez (Airman Diaz), and Keira Hairston (Young Izzy) round out the voice cast. 

Lightyear blasts off for theaters on Friday, June 17.

While you wait for Buzz to take that giant leap for mankind, be sure to head over to Peacock for an entire section of family-friendly fare. In addition, Universal and DreamWorks will be releasing their latest animated project — The Bad Guys — into theaters this weekend.

Lightyear (2022) Poster