Released in theaters on June 16, Pixar's Elemental opened to just under $30 million at the domestic box office. It was the lowest debut ever for a Pixar movie. Although 1995'sToy Story — Pixar's first feature-length CG-animated film — earned $29.1 million in its debut, when adjusted for inflation, Elemental performed even worse.
The disappointing opening led many to write Elemental off as another Disney flop. Pixar, once a box office behemoth that could not miss, was suddenly viewed as a "I can wait for the movie to come to Disney+" studio.
Well, fast forward to August, and Elemental had crossed $400 million at the global box office. That's an impressive feat considering its slow debut.
Disney revealed in its press release that Elemental had made $148 million domestically, or about five times its domestic opening weekend haul. How rare is such a rebound? Disney noted that no Pixar movie had a multiple that high since Toy Story.
Now I doubt that Elemental will go on to spark an entire franchise of movies, but it does at least prove that audiences will pay money for original movies if they are made well enough. Elemental is Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a 74% among critics and boasts an Audience Score of 93%. Coupled with an "A" CinemaScore, Elemental's success was fueled by strong word of mouth.
Elemental stands to make even more money thanks to its overseas release in Japan. Although the film has already made $276 million internationally — including $48 million in South Korea — it could get a nice boost from Japan as it runs through the upcoming Obon holidays (Aug. 11-20).
It's unclear how profitable Elemental has actually been for Disney, as it is estimated to have a production budget of $200 million (not counting marketing costs), but the fact that it has defied all odds and rebounded so nicely is proof that Pixar hasn't quite lost its magic among theatergoers.
The next stop for Elemental will be Disney+ where even more families wlil get to enjoy the heartwarming story. As for Pixar, the studio has another original film, Elio, set to release in theaters on March 1, 2024. After that, we get a sequel to the beloved 2015 movie Inside Out.