The last several Pixar movies have been met with disappointing box-office results, leading some to question whether or not the Disney-owned animation studio is past its prime.
- Elemental, the latest Pixar movie, opened in theaters over the weekend, bringing in less than $30 million in the U.S. and Canada—the second-lowest opening weekend of any Pixar film.
- The disappointing results are just the latest in a string of Pixar movies that have underperformed box-office expectations.
- In part, the animation studio is competing with changing consumer expectations. Many families are now accustomed to streaming movies at home rather than bringing their young children to the theater.
- This most recent struggle for Pixar could spell trouble for the studio, especially after layoffs last month to meet Disney’s cost-cutting quota.
Why it’s news
With big hits like Toy Story, Cars, Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles, audiences have come to expect a lot from Pixar movies, but in recent years, the studio has more frequently missed the mark.
Elemental opened in domestic markets over the weekend and earned a little more than $29 million—about the same as Pixar’s 1995 Toy Story debut, which earned $29.1 million. However, adjusting for inflation, Toy Story’s opening weekend would be worth around $57.6 million today, The Hustle reports.
Pixar’s latest disappointing opening weekend was even below analysts’ low predictions of $31 million, Reuters reports. The studio is looking to recover from other box office disappointments in recent years, including last year’s movie, Lightyear. That movie, a spin-off of the studio’s famous Toy Story characters, earned $226.7 million in global sales compared to the $1 billion made by Toy Story 4 in 2019.
Though Pixar’s most recent movies, like Onward and Soul, can blame disappointing numbers on the pandemic and low theater attendance, other films released this year have drawn in big crowds.
Universal Studios’ The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Minions: The Rise of Gru brought in $1.33 billion and $939.6 million worldwide revenue, respectively. Across the industry, theater numbers are improving. Movies from last weekend collectively grossed more than the same time in 2019, The Hustle reports.
While this is good news for other studios, the success of other recent flicks highlights Pixar’s struggle. However, movie-goers should not count Pixar out just yet. The studio has a history of bouncing back from disappointing results with box-office hits.
Cars 2 and Brave were low earners by Pixar standards, bringing in $560 million and $539 million, respectively. However, these were followed by Monsters University and Inside Out, which earned $744 million and $858 million.
The Good Dinosaur is considered Pixar’s first box-office flop, earning only $332 million, yet the following year, the studio released Finding Dory, which made $1.03 billion.