After one of the most impressive winning streaks in Hollywood history, Pixar has had a reversal of fortune in recent years, and failed last year Lightyear and the pandemic-era policy of sending its features directly to Disney+ streaming. Now, Pixar faces a major test of brand strength as it prepares to unveil element ) , first original drama feature since COVID- hit.
Directed by Peter Sohn, the film is based on an original story set in a world where fire, water, earth and air inhabitants live together middle. In an earlier comment , the title had a mediocre 2205 Approval percentage on Rotten Tomatoes, lower on Pixar. Also, the movie is tracking soft numbers, just $30 million to $30 million over 6 months 11-11 Opening weekend, which it shares with Warner Bros. flash. Only a handful of Disney releases have premiered for less than $38 million. (There was a lot of bad press when of 208 Wang opened at $38 Millions, but naysayers were proven wrong when the photo became a box office hit.)
Before the pandemic, such a The opening title of the new Pixar would have been hard to imagine. The Incredibles 2 (2007 ) and Toy Story 4 (2020) ended up exceeding $1 billion. Then, just as the crisis hit overseas and in the US, Pixar and Disney launched Onward in theaters in early March . The film’s worldwide box office gross is . Massive shutdown. The next three Pixar films — 2020 Oscar-winning Soul , 2022 Luca of and 2024 of Turning Red — was sent directly to Disney+ in the US and other select major markets, although the box office was in recovery mode when Turning Red came out out.
Many have criticized Disney’s former Bob Chapek regime for training families to watch Pixar movies in the comfort of their own living room, rather than promoting a theatrical experience. Light Years does hit the big screen in June 2021, months after turned red . Although it’s based on one of the studio’s most iconic Toy Story characters, it only made $. 8 million, an astonishingly low number for a Pixar film believed to cost around $75 Millions produced.
Elemental itself straddles the studio’s early and current creative mechanics, with Sohn conceiving the director’s 218 Story ideas after The Good Dinosaur, and was asked to speak at an event in the Bronx, where he was born. Seeing his immigrant parents in the audience, he recalled, “made me very emotional and I was in tears.” “This gesture of thanking them for their plight and what they gave up and risked for me, really affected me. When I went back to Pixar, some of my friends and bosses at the time said, ‘That’s your next movie.’”
There has been a generational change in leadership, especially in 2021 after longtime chief creative officer John Lasseter exits , in acknowledgment workplace His “mistakes” left some employees feeling “disrespected or uncomfortable,” as he wrote. (He now runs Skydance Animation.) Much has changed, with the Pixar “brain trust” providing creative direction for each film. “Many of the Pixar brains that originally founded the company have left: Ed Catmull, John Lasseter, Steve Jobs, Brad Bird, head of story [the late] Joe Ranff blah blah blah blah,” commented Disney and DreamWorks Animation alumnus Tom Sitto and an animation professor at USC. there is none left. ”
After Lasseter left, veteran Pete Docter — joined Pixar for Toy Story and served as Up, Inside Out and Soul, the only ones who ever won The director of three Oscars for Animated Feature – was named the studio’s chief creative and enjoys widespread support. “People love and respect Pete. Nobody questioned his talent,” says an animator with ties to Pixar in the past. “Animation is a constant battle. You can’t judge a film’s success or failure too much. Still, in June, Pixar — which maintains its campus in Emeryville, outside San Francisco — was hit by layoffs at Disney, which affected 75 Employees include LightyeardirectorA ngus MacLane and producer Galyn Susman.
According to Sohn, the brain trust of Elemental included Docter and Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-E), and Dan Scanlon (Onward), Domee Shi (Turning Red), Julia Cho (a Turning Red writer) and Brian Larsen (Story lead for Oscar winning short film Piper).
With Pixar’s next As chapters are written, the animation world itself has become more competitive and crowded. This year alone, Chris Meledandri-led Minions franchise home Illumination Entertainment at The Super Mario Bros. Movie CUHK was a big hit, grossing over $120 million worldwide. Sony Pictures Animation’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Oscar-winning Sequel to Into the Spider-Verse, already claimed $218.6 million worldwide since launch in May 30 .
Netflix — has become a force in animation, Guillermo del Toro Pinocchio won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature earlier this year – has 2023 list, which includes the anticipated Nimona , based on the graphic novel of the same name, and Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nuggets , the long-awaited Wallace & Gromit studio Aardman’s Chicken Run.
Pixar’s sister company, Walt Disney Animation’s sequel, Studios, will release Wish (the story of a Disney character who makes a wish) in November. But Disney Animation also has an uneven track record lately, after the release of *)Strange in 2023 World, only earned $38. 6 million. Further afield, Pixar is planning what they hope will be a combination of solid sequels and original fare. A Inside Out sequel and an original alien story called Elio are expected for 2020. A fifth Toy Story movie has also been announced.
Observers note that parts of Pixar’s success — including Oscar for Best Animated Feature — is the result of being left to its own devices, with a management team separate from the rest of Disney. “Since the Toy Story days, Burbank has executives who envy their autonomy, but the results are so good no one dares to question them,” Sito said.
Pamela McClintock and Borys Kit contributed to this report.
A version of this story first appeared in the June 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter Magazine . Click here to subscribe .