Disney Suffers 3 Box Office Flops in a Row With Their Animated Movies

By Matt Roembke Updated:
Disney Lightyear

Disney and Pixar have been the pinnacle of animation for as long as anyone can remember. While the castle and desk lamp still hold weight no other animation studio can hold, their most recent entries into the box office history books have been major letdowns. 

Lightyear, Strange World, and Elemental all possess the foundational qualities of a classic Disney or Pixar animated feature: top-tier animation, star power, and marketing campaigns touching every screen in existence. 

Despite the brand and formula being well at work, these last three entries from animation's greatest studio(s) have been unquestionable flops. 


Lightyear, Pixar

Budget: $200,000,000 USD (Profit Goal: $400,000,000 USD)

Worldwide Gross: $226,425,420 USD

Estimated Profit: -$173,571,580 USD

While Lightyear is the biggest total success on this list, the loss taken on this legacy sequel is still a gut punch. The biggest name in both title (Buzz Lightyear) and star (Chris Evans), Lightyear could not reach the heights it was set up to. It did not come close. 

Putting it in the universe of Toy Story, Lightyear is nearly half the total of the next lowest-grossing movie of the franchise. Toy Story 1-4 averaged $758,242,366 USD at the box office.

Strike one.

Strange World

Lightyear, Disney

Budget: $120,000,000 USD (Profit Goal: $360,000,000 USD)

Worldwide Gross: $73,621,640 USD

Estimated Profit: -$286,378,360 USD

Woof. Strange World is a project that seemed to be trying to catch up to expectations from the moment audiences first learned it existed. 

Citing a shallow story, less-than-engaging characters, and complicated information, Strange World never really got off the ground with critics, audiences, or box office totals. 

It does not take an expert to know that losing nearly double the budget of a movie is not a good sign. 

Strike two. 


Elemental, Pixar

Budget: $200,000,000 USD (Profit Goal: $400,000,000 USD)

Current Worldwide Gross: $128,311,527 USD

Estimated Profit: -$200,000,000 USD

Elemental had the feel of a turning point for Disney/Pixar animation. The style and visuals are stunning, and that is presented extremely well in the promotional material. Despite what felt like the next big hit, audiences did not show up. 

Elemental is keeping better legs than it did an opening weekend but is still on track to barely make back the budget leaving it as the third straight animated flop for the House of Mouse. 

Strike three. 

How Bad Has It Been for Pixar & Disney?

Even if Elemental reaches its highest current projections, Lightyear, Strange World, and Elemental will average $166,682,353 USD at the box office. 

To put that into perspective, Disney and Pixar movies between 1990-2019 averaged a total of $485.7 million at the box office. This means that this last stretch is -65% of what is expected from this studio and genre. 

That number factors Disney/Pixar averages from the 1990s ($409.9 million) and 2000s ($426.2 million), bringing down the total number. In the 2010s, Disney/Pixar movies averaged a staggering average total of $803.3 million. 

If Disney/Pixar expected these three films to reach their most recent averages, they are -79% of their expected profits. This is not great. 

Up next is Wish starring Ariana DeBose, Chris Pine, and Alan Tudyk. There is no making up for the most recent losses, but this is the next opportunity for Disney/Pixar to get back on track. 

Wish is set to hit theaters on November 22. 

- About The Author: Matt Roembke