Pixar’s new animated kid’s film “Elemental” had one of the worst openings in studio history, bringing in just $29.5 million in domestic ticket sales at the weekend box office.
The movie is Pixar’s first non-franchise theatrical release since the COVID pandemic that wasn’t released directly to streaming, per The New York Times.
To put those numbers into context, Pixar’s worst-performing movie ever was the first movie it ever did, “Toy Story,” which brought in $29.1 million for the then-unheard-of studio in 1995.
Pixar’s top performers include “The Incredibles 2,” which earned $182.7 million during its opening weekend, “Toy Story 4” ($120.9 million), “Finding Nemo” ($70.3 million), and “Up” ($68.1 million), per Forbes.
“Elemental” features the four elements — earth, water, fire, and air.
According to the IMDb description, “the film journeys alongside an unlikely pair, Ember and Wade, in a city where fire-, water-, land- and air-residents live together. The fiery young woman and the go-with-the-flow guy are about to discover something elemental: how much they actually have in common.”
The film is directed by Peter Sohn, best known for “The Good Dinosaur” (2015).
The new movie includes the studio’s first “non-binary” character, Lake, who is voiced by the “non-binary” star Kai Ava Hauser.
“BIG ANNOUNCEMENT I got to play Pixar’s first non-binary character. Meet Lake,” Hauser posted on Twitter. “I voice Lake in the new movie Elemental. I’m seeing it in theaters tonight with my friends, so you can catch it in theaters too if you wanna see them.”
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT I got to play Pixar’s first nonbinary character! Meet Lake!
I voice Lake in the new movie #Elemental! I’m seeing it in theaters tonight with my friends, so you can catch it in theaters too if you wanna see them. 💙 pic.twitter.com/6kBPGvCATE
— 🛸 Kai Ava Hauser 🛸 (@JustAVoiceActor) June 16, 2023
The Times noted that the movie cost $200 million to make. “Hard to sugarcoat this,” David A. Gross, a film consultant who publishes a newsletter on box office numbers, said of the lackluster results.
NYT writer Brooks Barnes also mentioned that industry insiders have been questioning the future of Pixar since the “Toy Story” spinoff, “Lightyear,” underperformed expectations last year. That film also included a highly publicized same-sex kiss. One of the studio’s worst performers was “Onward,” another animated children’s film prominently featuring a gay character. “Onward” earned $39.1 million on opening weekend in 2020.
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Barnes went on to speculate that the poor showing could be the result of audiences still feeling hesitant about returning to theaters, or to “Elemental” being the first non-franchise original Pixar production since the pandemic. Barnes wrote that audiences are used to waiting a few weeks for films to become available on streaming services.
“We’ve trained audiences that these films will be available for you on Disney+,” Pete Docter, Pixar’s chief creative officer, said during an interview with Variety. “We’re trying to make sure people realize there’s a great deal you’re missing by not seeing it on the big screen.”
(Disclosure: The Daily Wire has announced plans for kids entertainment content.)