Pixar's latest animated epic brought forth the studio's first true rom-com, telling the story of two citizens of Element City, Wade and Ember, who fall in love despite their differences.
The film earned middling reviews and (at least initially) did not make any significant noise at the box office.
Elemental opened to $29.6 million domestically, marking the second-worst opening for a Pixar film ever.
Disney Calls Elemental Not a 'Flop'
Following Elemental's unlikely box office run, Disney revealed a press release celebrating the movie, shutting down reports that the film was a flop.
Disney wrote that despite the film being "more spark than fire" upon release, it "didn’t evaporate at the box office."
The movie just crossed $400 million at the global box office, and $136 million domestically, which is (as the studio wrote) "about five times its domestic opening weekend haul, which is a rare accomplishment in a theatrical world."
It is so rare in fact, that no Pixar movie has seen a multiple like this since the studio's 1995 debut Toy Story.
This $400 million mark is the first time an original animated film broke that threshold since 2017, as the movie has become the biggest Pixar film of all-time in some territories (including Korea).
Disney’s EVP of Theatrical Distribution Tony Chambers said, “After a disappointing opening weekend, we’re really pleased that audiences have discovered what a great movie [Elemental] is.”
The studio cited the film's 93% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes and strong word of mouth for Elemental's financial success.
This all comes after Elemental was dubbed by some as a financial 'flop' upon release.
Variety wrote that the film had "collapsed" in its opening weekend, with other outlets like Fox News and The Wrap calling the movie a miss and wondering if the once-beloved animation studio would ever be able to return to its former box office glory.
However, most of these 'flop' reports came immediately following Elemental's opening, without the ability to account for the long legs the animated romance would go on to have.
Did Elemental Save Pixar at the Box Office?
Much has been made about Pixar's box office woes as of late. Essentially, since theaters reopened following the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, audiences have just not been heading to the theater in the same way they were before.
And - arguably - no studio has been hit harder than Pixar. As Disney withheld some of its theatrical releases, the studio opted to simply release its Pixar movies straight to streaming during the pandemic.
This may have devalued Pixar's product in the eye of some consumers. Instead of buying a ticket to see the latest Pixar film in theaters, the general moviegoer had seemingly turned its back on Pixar/Disney animated as a theatrical product, simply waiting for streaming.
Because of this, films like Lightyear and Strange World flopped at the ticket window, and - as was evident above - many thought the same was in store for Elemental. However, the movie grew legs and came away with not a bad box office haul.
While something worth celebrating on Disney's part, it should not get too cocky in thinking Pixar and animation at the studio is back. $400 million is a great start, but it will be sustained success across multiple films that will be a sign that Disney has weathered its animated box office storm.
Elemental is in theaters worldwide now and will hit digital PVOD services on Tuesday, August 15.