Pixar movies don’t come cheap — it’s just the nature of the beast as it currently exists. That being the case, “Elemental” carries a huge $200 million budget. So even though it passed “Encanto” and has a great shot at passing $300 million worldwide, it’s not going to come close to turning a profit. It also doesn’t have a big hit song from the soundtrack to lean on. But the fact that audiences have responded following that relatively weak opening weekend is encouraging. It could lead to some momentum with Pixar again following the pandemic.
As has been well-documented, Disney sent three original Pixar movies — “Luca,” “Soul,” and “Turning Red” — directly to Disney+ between 2020 and early 2022. This essentially taught audiences that Pixar movies are free, save for the cost of a monthly Disney+ subscription. Even Disney CEO Bob Iger recently acknowledged this strategy did some damage, saying the following:
“There were three Pixar releases in a row that went direct to streaming, in part because of — mostly because of COVID. And I think that may have created an expectation in the audience that they’re going to eventually be on streaming and probably quickly, and there wasn’t an urgency.”
In what can be described as a circumstantial victory, Pixar is holding strong in the face of what looked to be a terrible situation. This can serve as a place to build back from. Disney needs to make its theatrical animation viable again. This is a sign that things are trending (ever so slightly) in the right direction.
“Elemental” is in theaters now.