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The Iconic Sci-Fi Movies That Inspired Pixar's Lightyear

"Lightyear" is coming to a galaxy near you in mere days, and anticipation for the "Toy Story" spin-off is reaching a fever pitch. Advance reviews of the film are mostly positive, and much of the ... well, buzz has to do with the precise nature of its narrative relationship to the "Toy Story" saga. Purportedly, "Lightyear" is the movie about an outer space astronaut (or should we say superhero?) that inspired the action figure we all know and love, so it's fitting that the filmmakers behind it would have been inspired by some of the sci-fi adventure classics of the past.

In a recent interview to promote the film, "Lightyear" director and co-writer Angus MacLane and producer Galyn Susman spoke about some of the inspirations behind the animated space adventure, and they cited a few specific titles of films that informed the look, tone, and dramatic intent of the movie. They're all pretty well-known films, but if you haven't seen any of them, it might be fun to catch up before the release of "Lightyear" on June 17th.

Lightyear draws inspiration from the Hollywood sci-fi movies of the 70s and 80s

The inside scoop on the films that inspired "Lightyear" came in a video interview with Beyond the Trailer. And when asked whether there were any older sci-fi movies swimming around in the new film's DNA, director Angus MacLane answered with a distinct era, saying, "Mostly the ones from 1977 to 1987." Then, after confusingly listing off a few more release years, producer Galyn Susman reminded MacLane that he was in fact allowed to name the specific titles in question (it's always good to be on the safe side when doing press for a Disney movie!).

At this point, MacLane finally named the following films: "Star Wars," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "The Empire Strikes Back," "Return of the Jedi," "The Road Warrior" (often referred to as "Mad Max 2" nowadays), and "RoboCop," as well as the films in the "Alien" franchise, and "Star Trek." MacLane also placed an emphasis on the thrillers that hit theaters in the wake of "Star Wars."

If the quality of these movies is any indication, "Lightyear" certainly isn't playing around with any sub-par influences. And according to the film's current Rotten Tomatoes score of 82%, critics seem to think that quality is reflected in the finished product. In any event, you can't deny that the makers of "Lightyear" were inspired by the best sci-fi movies of all-time.