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From Box Office Flop to Top of the Charts

Disney Pixar’s “Elemental” Surprises Analysts with a Slow-Burning Success

Disney and Pixar have always had an impressive reputation when it comes to their films. Whenever the topic of animation is brought up, it seems those two companies are the first to come to mind, with classics like “Beauty and the Beast”, “Toy Story”, and “The Incredibles”. However, Pixar’s recent releases seem to have lacked that “Disney magic” they used to have; that is, of course, until earlier this year with the launch of their latest film, “Elemental.”

When “Elemental” debuted to less than $30 million in the U.S. in mid-June, industry experts and film reporters were quick to dub it a “flop,” predicting imminent financial losses. However, as the summer months rolled on, this latest offering from the once-mighty Pixar began to defy expectations and proved it had the chance to become something truly special.

“Elemental” tells the tale of a unique and comedic love story between Ember, a quick-witted store clerk who’s made of fire, and Wade, a go-with-the-flow city inspector made of water, and how the two “challenge each other’s beliefs about the world they live in.” The film performed beyond its expected sales, reaching an impressive $486 million around the globe.

The general consensus online seems to be that Pixar’s releases over the last few years have been disappointing. However, “Elemental” seems to have reignited that spark of Disney magic that viewers have been missing.

Hannah Pestell, an avid fan of animation spoke out and said, “Modern Pixar films have become very centrally focused, so to speak. With the film’s director, Peter Sohn, being with the company since the early 2000s, as well as directing a film before this in ‘The Good Dinosaur’, I think it shows they’ve still got it. ‘Elemental’ slots in nicely with their other films on non-sentient things growing emotions.”

In today’s world of box office reporting, where frontloading is the norm, “Elemental’s” sustained success is a noteworthy exception. While it may not reach the stratospheric heights of Pixar’s biggest hits like “Toy Story 3”, “The Incredibles 2”, and “Finding Dory”, it has already outperformed “Encanto”, which had a significantly larger fanbase and a more challenging release window in 2021.

Earlier this summer in an interview with Variety magazine, Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer, Pete Docter, shared his thoughts on the current trends and how viewers are reacting to this controversial era.

“Right now, the world seems to want the comfort of what they know, which is sequels, and movies based on things like comic books or video games. But all of these things were original at one point. I think it’s essential for us to develop new original stories, which are harder to publicize, harder to get people excited to go see them.” – Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer, Pete Docter

Many people have expressed concerns when “Elemental” initially faltered at the box office, as they’re worried that the pandemic might have conditioned audiences to wait for animated content on Disney+, especially after films like “Soul” and “Turning Red” bypassed theatrical releases in the U.S. Docter emphasized the unique cinematic experience that “Elemental” offered on the big screen and urged viewers to not miss it.

Whether you watch it in theaters or on your couch, “Elemental” stands as a testament to the power of original storytelling and the enduring creativity of Disney and Pixar. As it continues to capture hearts and imaginations, one thing is clear: the magic that once defined this dynamic duo remains alive and well. Audiences worldwide can embark on this extraordinary journey and rediscover the enchantment that only Disney and Pixar can deliver.

“Elemental” is now available to stream on Disney+.

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About the Contributor
Stillman Blaylock
Stillman Blaylock, Staff Editor
Hi there! My name is Stillman Blaylock and I am a Junior at the University of North Georgia. I am currently majoring in Communications with a focus in Multimedia Journalism in hopes of working in the entertainment/gaming journalism industry. Outside of my studies, I enjoy writing, cooking, programming, and spending time with my loved ones.
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