'Elemental' box office debacle: Pixar movie opens to record $29.6 million

‘Elemental’ box office debacle: Pixar movie opens to record $29.6 million

The Pixar film about a rat with ambitions to become an acclaimed French chef began its slow-burning box office run when it opened to a less-than-tasty $47 million in summer 2007. Experts were quick to declare that Pixar had the recipe wrong in a rare miss. But the skeptics were proven wrong when Ratatouille started bubbling on its way to earning $623 million at the worldwide box office.

For decades, the revered animation studio that was championed by the late Steve Jobs before being bought by Disney could do no wrong, using the unlikeliest of scraps to over and over again produce perfect stews that have become critical and commercial box office hits. . buffet.

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Everything has changed in recent years, crowned by the sad debut of Elementary on the weekend of June 16-18. The film, a parable about immigration and getting along, bombed with a $29.6 million domestic debut, the worst three-day weekend in company history after Pixar’s first outing, 1995 History of the toy, which earned $29.1 million over the three-day Thanksgiving weekend, which was quite a small fortune at the time. (When adjusted for inflation, History of the toyopening weekend haul would be north of $50 million.) Also, History of the toy was a breakthrough success that catapulted Pixar to fame and created a brand like no other. ElementaryThe photo’s predicted four-day home opening over the Juneteenth holiday long weekend is $33.4 million.

ElementaryThe inability to galvanize viewers leaves Pixar stuck at a crossroads. For years, former Pixar boss John Lasseter hesitated to franchise the factory (History of the toy AND Automobiles were exceptions).

But family photos that aren’t based on known IPs are proving difficult to organize after consumers were trained during the pandemic to stream new Pixar movies at home, a controversial policy orchestrated by then-Disney chief Bob Chapek. Yet not even that of last summer History of the toy spin off Light year, which has received a traditional theatrical run, could break through. It only surpassed $226.4 million globally.

A ray of hope: Elementary earned a CinemaScore A and stellar release scores on PostTrak, which could lead to box office legs. It similarly fared well with audiences overseas, where it opened in a handful of major markets over the weekend, including South Korea, where it beat Warner Bros. and DC’s The flash. In December 2022, most of Hollywood canceled DreamWorks Animation and Universal’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish when the threequel opened to just $12.4 million nationwide over the weekend of Dec. 23-25. But the family film had nine lives, playing in theaters for months and earning $480.9 million at the worldwide box office. Whether a movie based on the original IP can do the same remains to be seen.

On the Disney lot and at Pixar where Pete Docter is in charge, there’s sure to be a lot of discussion about Elementary and what does it mean for original IP vs. branded in the studio. Next year, Pixar has the original animated film helium scheduled for theatrical release, as well as a Inside out Continuation. Any lessons learned from ElementaryThe miss will take some time to implement, as course fixes are particularly tricky in the animation space, considering these films take many years to make. And insiders say there would be no franchise without original swings, something Pixar in particular has excelled at for decades.

Original versus branded IP is also a crucial issue for Walt Disney Animation Studios, which has seen Strange world last year it fell flat earning just $73.6 million globally. Disney executives will be watching closely to see if Disney Animation’s upcoming original Thanksgiving offering Wish can break the curse by tackling the original animated fare.

In retrospect, it’s no surprise why Bob Iger used his first earnings call upon his return as CEO of The Walt Disney Co. to tease further installments in blockbuster animated franchises. History of the toy, Frozen AND Zootopia (the last two are from Walt Disney Animation). He said future films were an example of how “we’re leaning on our unrivaled brands.” During the February 2023 call, he stressed again and again the importance of curating the company’s core franchises.

“The nature of the Pixar films event, even the original IP, is not what it used to be. However, it appears the new leadership is trying to right some of the wrongs of the past few years,” says box office analyst Shawn Robbins.ElementaryThe mostly positive reception and minimal competition from could help the film find legs over the summer, and Pixar itself may still have a very bright future ahead of it as long as its shepherds stay committed to the creative underpinnings they have guided the study for so long.

Vast majority of Pixar films have opened to $50 million or more at the domestic box office, surpassed by sequels Incredibles 2 ($182.7 million) and Finding Dory ($135.1 million), not adjusted for inflation. Elementary, The good dinosaur AND After you are among the few Pixar films to open to under $50 million (Happy dinosaur AND After you both pitched to $39 million domestically) in their opening wide breaks.

For now, the pundits and insiders are left to debate the factors for the record-breaking opening. Among critics, Pixar’s track record has also been stellar over extended periods, with many titles boasting Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer scores in the 90% to 100% range. Elementary received a more tepid response, with a current Tomatometer score of 76 percent. Light year it dropped to 74%, but still opened to $50.7 million domestically.

Another challenge for the Disney empire: more competition and a changing audience for animated films. Along with children, adults aged 18-34 were a huge reason for Illumination’s smashing success and Universal’s billion-dollar blockbuster The Super Mario Bros. Movie earlier this year; ditto for Sony’s most recent entry Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

Adds Robbins in summarizing the Elementary Conversation: “Disney’s pandemic-era streaming strategies and the growing popularity of other animation studios among modern youth and family viewers should be considered.”