After a slow start in theaters, Elemental earned just $29.6 million during its opening weekend in North America, one of the worst in Pixar history.
However, the film went on to have strong summer legs, ballooning its worldwide haul up to $486.7 million, the 17th-highest-earning Pixar film.
This caused Disney to release a statement, defending the film, writing, "Elemental didn’t evaporate at the box office. Audiences kept showing up."
In turn, it appears audiences are still showing up to watch the film on Disney+ following its September 13 debut.
Elemental's Success on Disney+
The latest Pixar film earned 26.4 million views in its first five days of streaming, Disney is stating that this is "the most watched movie premiere of the year on Disney+ and among its Top 10 movie premieres of all time."
The House of Mouse defines views as total stream time divided by the runtime (1 hour, 42 minutes).
Prior to this fantastic streaming viewership, it was already rumored that Elemental would get a Disney+ spin-off series and possibly a sequel.
Disney's Continued Effort to Congratulate Elemental
Regardless of Disney's habit of patting its own back, the numbers don't lie.
Since the global pandemic kickstarted Disney's strategic shift to focus most of its attention on streaming from 2020-2022, audiences have changed expectations for Pixar films.
Here are the facts.
Newly released Pixar movies Luca, Soul, and Turning Red were all released directly to Disney+, offering zero theatrical options to North American moviegoers.
In June 2022, the animation studio returned to theaters with Chris Evans' Toy Story spin-off Lightyear. It bombed, earning $226.4 million worldwide, the second-worst box office performance by a Pixar film.
The worst global performer was Onward, which was released in theaters only a week before many theaters shut their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was added to Disney+ less than a month after opening due to the circumstances.
So, no, Elemental is not a complete flop like Lightyear was, but that doesn't mean it's a booming success compared to previous Pixar films.
Within the last decade, original films like Coco and Inside Out earned roughly $800 million at the worldwide box office or more.
Larger-than-life sequels like Incredibles 2, Toy Story 3, Toy Story 4, and Finding Dory all passed $1 billion at the box office.
In fairness, Elemental became a surprise, long-term hit this summer, but that doesn't mean Disney has much loftier goals in mind for its iconic animation studio.
Elemental is now streaming on Disney+.