Pixar’s box office mojo is out of its element

Pixar’s oxygen supply runs thin.

Pixar box office earnings

Olivia Heller

The stakes were high for Elemental, Pixar’s 27th feature film, made on a $200m+ budget.

But if you’d taken a look at the TikTok consumer sentiment index — known more widely as the comments section — the outcome here might’ve seemed pretty obvious.

Top comments on Elemental’s recent TikTok ads, viewed by millions, include negative reactions like:

  • “The Disney magic is fading away.”
  • “Can’t wait to not watch this.”
  • “It’ll probably make, like, $20 at the box office. $21, if they’re lucky.”

By that measure, Pixar won the lottery this weekend — but by other measures, Elemental failed to build chemistry with audiences, opening to $29.5m at the box office, below analysts’ modest expectations.

Fizzling out

While other recent animated films, like Universal’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Minions: The Rise of Gru, have posted record results — $1.33B and $939.6m worldwide, respectively — Pixar has struggled to heat up.

Elemental’s opening was Pixar’s second-lowest ever, after Toy Story’s $29.1m in 1995… until you adjust for inflation. Today, Toy Story’s opening would be worth ~$57.6m, 98% more than Elemental’s.

The studio hoped Elemental would be a rebound after Lightyear’s box office disappointment, and a momentary high note after Pixar laid off 75 people in May amid Disney’s wider cuts.

The good news: Across the industry, things are looking up for theaters. Per CNBC, this past weekend, movies grossed more at the domestic box office than during the same weekend in 2019, pre-pandemic.

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