The President Of Pixar Discusses How ELEMENTAL Bounced Back After A Disastrous Opening Weekend

The President Of Pixar Discusses How ELEMENTAL Bounced Back After A Disastrous Opening Weekend The President Of Pixar Discusses How ELEMENTAL Bounced Back After A Disastrous Opening Weekend

Pixar President Jim Morris discusses the animation studio's initial concern with Elemental's opening weekend box office numbers and how the picture gradually recovered.

By MarkJulian - Aug 15, 2023 06:08 PM EST
Filed Under: Disney

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. 

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Forthas - 8/15/2023, 6:29 PM
Good to see that kind of comeback. It should make back its money and then some from streaming and after market revenue. Congrats to Pixar!
MrDandy - 8/15/2023, 6:38 PM
It’s good it found legs. Otherwise it would have been a disaster. It’s still not a big success but maybe will come close to breaking even.
MCUKnight11 - 8/15/2023, 6:39 PM
I'm glad it was able to bounce back. It might not be top tier Pixar, but I still very much enjoyed it. I took my Mom to see it for her birthday since it came out on the same day. It also personally resonated with me as someone who was raised by an interracial couple.
Vigor - 8/15/2023, 6:43 PM
Looking fwd to watching this on disney plus
DocSpock - 8/16/2023, 12:19 AM
@Vigor -

I'll watch it on the Disney- never network.

DocSpock - 8/15/2023, 6:51 PM

Junk movie.

Watch the original Jungle Book or Lion King with the kiddies at home instead of this preachy nonsense.

TheSuperMex - 8/15/2023, 7:06 PM
@DocSpock - what was the movie preachy about?
Syringe - 8/15/2023, 6:53 PM
This movie looked like it was gonna suck, was I wrong?
Vigor - 8/15/2023, 7:27 PM
@Syringe - I'm not sure I can pinpoint one Pixar film that outright "sucks"
MyCoolYoung - 8/15/2023, 7:06 PM
My younger brother and sister were saying how much they enjoyed the movie this past weekend. I personally still haven't seen it but I had been meaning to take my daughter
TheSuperMex - 8/15/2023, 7:07 PM
Probably watch it soon. Need to catch up on some of the older Pixar movies I have missed.
Itwasme - 8/15/2023, 7:09 PM
BO behavior has been all over the place since the pandemic. It's so difficult to draw any conclusions any more.
Feralwookiee - 8/15/2023, 7:16 PM
A $200 million dollar budget × 2.5 = $500 million just to turn a profit, which it won't and that's not including the money they spent on marketing.

Of course the president of the company is going to try to spin this to make it look like it's not that bad, but this is another failure for Pixar.
Matador - 8/15/2023, 7:58 PM
@Feralwookiee - It still a failure if you compare to Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse as an animated movie standpoint and Pixar being the bigger fish.

Cost to make $100 Mil:

Cost to make $200 mil:
Feralwookiee - 8/15/2023, 7:59 PM
@Matador - Totally. This is just the studio's spin.
OmegaDaGrodd - 8/15/2023, 9:10 PM
@Matador - and Spider-Verse is a failure if you compare it to Super Mario Bros, but that's extremely silly logic

Far too many movies are failing at the box office for us to be scrambling to find some bogus metric by which successful movies like Elemental and Spider-Verse still "failed"
Matador - 8/16/2023, 9:49 AM
@OmegaDaGrodd - It's not silly logic if Pixar has been making CG animated movies for longer than other companies but there stories have dwindle they can make great looking animation but lacks in story.

Elemental still failed against Super Mario from Universal Illumination bested them 10 fold that's way worse it had the same budget as Spider-Verse. Sony Pictures Animation has had more duds than suscceful movies and less time than Pixar making CG Animation thus being the underdog.

Cost to make $100 mil:

All in all Elemental still failed against both and Super Mario being a video game adaptation in which even the video games don't even have a story.
OmegaDaGrodd - 8/16/2023, 4:48 PM
@Matador -

It is incredibly silly logic

Elemental cannot "fail against" Mario because they are not at all direct competition, no matter how much you want to force a direct comparison between them. Elemental is an original film about original characters, whereas Super Mario is a movie about one of the most popular fictional characters of all time who's games have spaned over 30 years. Mario is SUPPOSED to make more money

And as for story.....Elemental actually received better reviews than Mario, so what you're saying makes even less sense
Matador - 8/17/2023, 8:46 AM
@OmegaDaGrodd - It doesn't matter Pixar is an experienced studio making CGI movies and has the backing of Disney it should be an easy win against those two other movies.

As far a competition goes it was released in the summer during 4 other animated movies 3 of those should have been blockbuster hits but only 2 were more successful. And as such when they go for awards they all will graded as an animated category so yes competition for a company inevitable when it comes to awards to profits.

If Elemental had a better story why is it not making Mario's profits? No matter who reviewed it the general audience decided in the end who was worthy.

Even DreamWorks failed on an original film like Elemental and went straight to streaming in a couple of weeks.
rkshuttleworth - 8/15/2023, 7:59 PM
Geesh somebody missed out on their opportunity to hate on the film to influence lower numbers. Oh wait, it's a Disney film. Never mind.
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