Pixar’s “Elemental” drops out, adding to the brand’s concern

Pixar is recognized as a big screen brand.

That was one rather dismal takeaway from the weekend’s box office, which found “Elemental,” a $200 million-plus Pixar original, hitting a disastrous $29.5 million in domestic ticket sales. The Flash, a Warner Bros. movie, also suffered. Superheroes, which cost about $200 million, has taken in $55.1 million, according to Comscore, which compiles ticket data.

“It’s hard to smooth this out,” said David Gross, the film consultant publishing the film. the news on box office numbers.

Questions about Pixar health Owns I flew in Hollywood And among investors since last June, when the Disney-owned studio released “Lightyear” with disastrous results. How could Pixar, the gold standard for animation studios for nearly three decades, have it I got a very wrong movie – Especially about Buzz Lightyear, the main “Toy Story” character?

Families worried about the pandemic may not have been quite ready to return to theaters. Or maybe, as some box office analysts have speculated, Disney has diluted the Pixar brand by using its films to build out the Disney+ streaming service. Starting in late 2020, Disney has released three Pixar films in a row (“Soul,” “Turning Red,” and “Luca”) online, bypassing movie theaters entirely.

By broadcast standards, those were all three movies hits the fugitive. But Pixar’s most recent box office success was in 2019, when Toy Story 4 took in $1.1 billion worldwide.

The presence of “Elemental” over the weekend reinforced the premise of the brand’s problem: it was Pixar’s worst opening weekend ever in the United States and Canada. The previous low was Onward, which hit $39 million ($46 million after adjusting for inflation) in domestic ticket sales in March 2020, just as the coronavirus pandemic was beginning to sweep the world.

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Disney said “Elemental,” a multicultural boy-meets-romantic comedy, has taken in an additional $15 million in limited release overseas.

To recreate Pixar films as more than just Disney+ food, the company held a premiere of “Elemental” at the Cannes Film Festival as well as in Los Angeles at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Pete Docter, Pixar’s chief creative officer, said Friday in a statement Interview with Variety, a commercial news outlet. “We’re trying to make sure people realize there’s a lot you’re missing out on by not seeing it on the big screen.”

Movies based on original stories are becoming more and more difficult, especially at a time when going to the movies is becoming more expensive and the broader economy is more precarious. People want to know that spending money is worth it. The hit animated films have been based on well-established characters and franchises.

“If you don’t swing to get original stories, you can’t make new franchises, and we swung hard,” said Tony Chambers, Disney’s executive vice president of theatrical distribution. Referring to intellectual property, he added, “Original intellectual property needs to work much harder to break through these days.”

Families appeared in droves on “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” (Universal) in April and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (Sony) earlier this month. Family movie budgets may be depleted at this point, and movie watchers know they’ll be able to catch “Elemental” before long at home.

Some people in Hollywood and beyond Wall Street Worry, too, that Pixar’s once dazzling creative spark is starting to flicker. The studio experienced a brain drain. It cut 75 jobs last month as part of Disney-wide layoffs and cost cuts. (Director: “Lightyear” Angus McClainPixar has also been pushed to expand into TV productions to keep Disney+ shelves stocked. “The higher the volume, the lower the quality,” said Terry Brice, a former executive of Disney, DreamWorks and CBS Films.

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Ratings for “Elemental” were mostly positive positive, though to a lesser extent than usual for a Pixar release. Ticketbuyers gave it an A in CinemaScore exit polls. The “Audience Score” on Rotten Tomatoes reached a positive 91% high Sunday morning.

In a statement, Disney said the positive reviews “prepared us for a strong theatrical run during the school holiday period.” The next major animated film for families is “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mayhem(Paramount), which won’t hit theaters until August 2.

“The Flash” (Warner Bros.) received weaker reviews and a cooler audience response — ticket buyers gave it a B in CinemaScore exit polls — but it took up enough seats to be number one in the US and Canada. The film finds the superhero using his powers to travel back in time, accidentally causing chaos. Batman and Supergirl are also a prominent character.

In part, “The Flash” suffered from timing: it was delayed by the pandemic, and finally arrived at a moment when nightly showings—important movie marketing platforms—were shut down by showwriters’ strike. Warner Bros. also cited And its DC Studios division blamed superhero fatigue as an explanation for the recent underperformance of a string of their comedies, including “Shazam! Wrath of the Gods” and “Black Adam”.

Ezra Miller, who played the Flash, became a divisive figure after off-screen legal troubles and erratic behavior in 2021 and 2022. He issued an apology They said last year they were seeking mental health treatment. They pretty much didn’t do a publicity stunt for “The Flash”).

“The world of superheroes is fantasy, escapist fun,” said Mr. Gross. “Everyone has to play. It didn’t help.”

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