Jim Morris, the president of Pixar, recently spoke to Variety about the studio's 27th feature picture, Elemental, and how the narrative around it has evolved from box office failure to scrappy underdog.
Morris started off the interview by affirming that the studio was undoubtedly discouraged by the audience's apparent lack of enthusiasm for the movie when it was first released on June 16, 2023.
"It was certainly disappointing from a revenue point of view. We felt pretty good about the film. We had a higher hope for its opening weekend, so we were a bit crestfallen."
The movie had the lowest start for a Pixar picture to date with $74 million in global box office receipts. The movie's $200 million production budget and the previous box office failures of other Disney movies made the low revenue figures all the more startling.
Elemental, thankfully, had a remarkably minimal week-to-week drop-off, which gave the film long legs at the box office.
"The numbers were falling off so little," said Morris. "In some markets, it would be a 12% drop from the week before and we had a handful of markets where [ticket sales] were rising. You just don’t see that in this day and age. You typically expect a 50% drop on an average basis. We thought, “Well that’s cool.”
Morris went on to add that the studio expects the film to be profitable and that they're hoping its final box office tally finishes at $460 million, though he's personally hoping for the film to tap out at $500 million.
In its 8th week of release, Elemental grossed another $1.32 million at the domestic box office and another $8.9 million internationally. The film's total box office gross currently sits at $443.6 million worldwide.
Morris confirmed that the film will actually end its theatrical run in the green for the highly-acclaimed animation studio.
"We have a lot of different revenue streams, but at the box office we’re looking at now, it should do better than break even theatrically. And then we have revenue from streaming, theme parks and consumer products. This will certainly be a profitable film for the Disney company."
ELEMENTAL Official Synopsis: Disney and Pixar’s “Elemental,” an all-new original feature film that transports moviegoers to an extraordinary place called Element City, where a host of elements live and work. The trailer showcases each element—air, earth, water and fire—and what sets them apart according to Ember, a quick-witted and fiery woman who’s always stayed close to home in Firetown.
In “Elemental,” which opens in theaters on June 16, she finally ventures out of her comfort zone to explore this spectacular world born from the imaginations of Pixar’s filmmakers and specifically crafted for the big-screen experience. Element City is inspired by big cities around the globe and embraces theorized contributions from each elemental community—from giant pine-tree-like buildings and waterfall skyscrapers to a tornado-shaped arena called Cyclone Stadium.
The voice cast includes Leah Lewis and Mamoudou Athie as Ember and Wade, respectively. The cast also includes Ronnie del Carmen as Ember’s soon-to-be retired dad, Bernie; Shila Ommi as Ember’s love-seeking mom, Cinder; Wendi McLendon-Covey as Wade’s stormy and Air-Ball-loving boss, Gale; Catherine O’Hara as Wade’s welcoming mom, Brook; Mason Wertheimer as Ember’s admiring earth neighbor, Clod; and Joe Pera as an overgrown city bureaucrat, Fern.
Directed by Peter Sohn, produced by Denise Ream, p.g.a., and executive produced by Pete Docter, “Elemental” features a screenplay by John Hoberg & Kat Likkel and Brenda Hsueh with story by Sohn, Hoberg & Likkel and Hsueh. The film’s original score was composed and conducted by Thomas Newman.