Pixar’s New Film Predicted To Be a Box Office Flop

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Disney Movie Characters 'Elemental' from left and right sides; 'Elemental' Movie Poster in the Middle

Credit: Inside the Magic

Pixar’s next release is just around the corner – but if the first projections are anything to go by, it won’t be one of the studio’s biggest hits.

On June 16, Pixar will introduce audiences to the world of Elemental (2023). Described as a romantic comedy-drama, this will follow the fire element Ember Lumen (Leah Lewis) and water element Wade Ripple (Mamoudou Athie), who meet and fall in love in a world where different elements are forbidden from mixing.

Ember, Wade, and Clod's character posts from Pixar's Elemental.
Credit: Disney Pixar

The film is inspired by director Peter Sohn’s own adolescent experiences growing up as the son of immigrants in New York City during the 1970. “I married someone that wasn’t Korean, and there was a lot of culture clash with that in my world,” Sohn said at the Disney Content Showcase in 2022. “And that brought to me to this idea of finding opposites. And the question of what if fire fell in love with water came.”

It’s a mature theme to tackle in an animated movie, but distilling adult topics into family-friendly content is what Pixar has always done best. While we won’t know what critics think until the film premieres at Cannes Film Festival on May 27, a positive critical reception seems inevitable. However, if the projections for Elemental’s opening weekend are anything to go by, its box office reception may be a different story.

Two hands from Pixar's Elemental
Credit: Disney

According to Box Office Pro, Elemental is predicted to earn between $28 million and $38 million in its opening weekend at the domestic box office.

These figures are lower than Pixar’s last outing, Lightyear (2022), which brought in $51 million, and trail behind some of the studio’s other original debuts, such as Inside Out (2015) – which raked in $90 million – and even Onward (2020), which made $39 million despite premiering on the cusp of the COVID-19 lockdown. For comparison, Shazam 2: Fury of the Gods (2023) – 2023’s most infamous box office flop – made $30 million in its opening weekend.

In fact, if the projections are correct, Elemental will take home the unwanted title of Pixar’s lowest opening since Toy Story 2 (1999).

Ember and Wade stand next to each other in Elemental.
Credit: Disney Pixar

With the film as yet unseen, this has no bearing on its quality (and we’re fully expecting to cry, regardless of how much money it makes). However, it does suggest an increasing weariness towards what was once the box office jewel of animation.

Pixar has faced plenty of challenges over the past few years, with some of them self-inflicted by its parent company when the likes of Soul (2020), Luca (2021), and Turning Red (2022) were pulled from theaters in favor of streaming releases on Disney+.

The studio is set to return to some of its most beloved franchises over the next few years with the likes of Toy Story 5, which is sure to turn the box office tide. But as audiences continue to urge Disney to prioritize original content, a poor opening for Elemental is sure to do little to turn its head from further remakes, reboots, and sequels.

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