Elemental, Disney’s new animated film, didn’t recover from its opening day disaster and had an even worse opening weekend than predicted. Bringing in just $29.5 million over the opening weekend, the film did only marginally better in nominal dollar terms than Disney’s worst-ever opening weekend for a Pixar film, 1995’s Toy Story 2.
“Toy Story 2” had a $29 million opening weekend, placing it slightly below Elemental. However, that number is not adjusted for inflation, and $29 million in 1995 is worth $57,871,935.70 in 2023 dollars, making the “Elemental” figure even worse; after accounting for inflation, it’s the worst performer. Elemental was expected to have at least a $33-35 million opening weekend.
Predictably, the film is extremely woke. For one, it includes the Pixar’s first ever “non-binary” character, Lake. Lake is voiced by Kai Ava-Hauser, who identifies as “non-binary.” Kai, posting about the role on Twitter, said, “BIG ANNOUNCEMENT I got to play Pixar’s first nonbinary character! Meet Lake! I voice Lake in the new movie #Elemental! I’m seeing it in theaters tonight with my friends, so you can catch it in theaters too if you wanna see them. 💙”
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT I got to play Pixar's first nonbinary character! Meet Lake!
I voice Lake in the new movie #Elemental! I'm seeing it in theaters tonight with my friends, so you can catch it in theaters too if you wanna see them. 💙 pic.twitter.com/6kBPGvCATE
— 🛸 Kai Ava Hauser 🛸 (@JustAVoiceActor) June 16, 2023
Further, the film’s plot revolves around diversity and getting along. According to its IMDb description, Elemental “journeys alongside an unlikely pair, Ember and Wade, in a city where fire-, water-, land- and air-residents live together. The fiery young woman and the go-with-the-flow guy are about to discover something elemental: how much they actually have in common.”
Elemental is just the latest in a long string of Pixar and Disney flops. Lightyear, which included a homosexual kiss that sparked much controversy, grossed only $267 million and cost about $373 million to produce and market, lost Disney and Pixar $106 million.
And it wasn’t even Disney’s worst flop of 2022. That same year, Strange World cost far more to produce and market and lost far more money. In fact, it is estimated to have lost Disney over $300 million and brought in an anemic $120 million in revenue.
Additionally, Disney’s Little Mermaid live-action remake was also something of a flop. Though it hasn’t lost anywhere near that amount of money, it is closer to a break-even film and was widely panned by critics.
Pixar’s Creative Chief Director, Pete Doctor, said that one potential problem for the studio on opening day is that audiences have learned to just watch the movies on Disney+, which is far cheaper than buying tickets to the theater but leads to missed details and lowering opening weekend sales figures.
Speaking about that to Variety, Doctor said, “In the long run, there’s been a bit of a mixed blessing because we’ve trained audiences that these films will be available for you on Disney+. And it’s more expensive for a family of four to go to a theater when they know they can wait and it’ll come out on the platform.”
He added, later in the interview, “It does seem that audiences are going back [to theaters]. I think families with kids are more reluctant. It’s not just health, it’s the cost. It’s not a cheap outing to go to the theater and buy popcorn. It’s a great time, but they really are very selective about what they’re going to go see.”
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