A new report details that Pixar chief Pete Docter believes the animation company has “drifted too far from its storytelling roots.”
Brook Barnes described a Zoom interview he conducted with Docter that primarily revolved around the failure of Elemental that Disney is now attempting to spin as a success given the movie had longer legs at the box office than initially expected.
According to The-Numbers, Pixar’s latest animated release, Elemental, only grossed $29.6 million in its opening weekend at the domestic box office. However, the film went on to earn $154.4 million at the domestic box office in its entire theatrical run. It added on another $333.7 million internationally, predominantly in South Korea ($54.4M), for a global gross of $488.1 million.
However, given the film’s estimated $200 million production budget, the movie needed to hit at least $500 million to break even after you factor in the movie’s marketing budget as well as the box office split that theaters take.
According to Barnes, Docter placed the blame on Walt Disney executives who moved Pixar films from theatrical releases to Disney+ releases. Barnes detailed, “For a start, [Docter] said, Disney had undercut Pixar as a big-screen force by using its films to build the Disney+ streaming service.
He reportedly pointed to Soul, Turning Red, and Luca all being released on Disney+ instead of getting theatrical releases.
Docter claims this change shifted the way viewers look at Pixar films, “There has been an overall shift in viewing habits as a result of the pandemic, but it’s also specific to Disney+. We’ve told people, ‘Hey, all of this is going to be available to you on Disney+!’”
Not only did Docter claim that Disney executives have screwed the pooch by putting Pixar films on Disney+, but he did take some of the blame himself with Barnes stating, “Although not saying so directly, Mr. Docter also indicated that Pixar had perhaps drifted too far from its storytelling roots.”
To that point, Docter said, “I always felt that Elemental would speak to a lot of people, and I’m so happy it has. But we have also taken another look at the projects we’re working on now. What are the kinds of films we want to be making? I really think I want to double down on what allowed us to speak to audiences to begin with.”