Disney Benefits from Delay in New Pixar Film

Recent Box Office Setbacks Prompt Pixar to Reevaluate Strategy for New Releases

While Pixar has a reputation for producing exceptional feature films, a recent decline in box office returns has prompted the studio to make some strategic changes in preparation for upcoming releases.

Pixar, a cornerstone of Disney’s entertainment empire, has gained renown for its imaginative and original franchises that weave narratives around characters unlike humans, yet grappling with relatable challenges. This distinctive storytelling approach often involves anthropomorphizing inanimate objects, as seen in recent films centered around elements, sea creatures, and mythical beings. However, the studio has faced notable box office challenges with its most recent releases.

This decline in performance is somewhat surprising given Pixar’s track record of consistently delivering critical and financial successes until 2020. While there have been lower-scoring films in Pixar’s history, recent releases like ‘Lightyear’ and ‘Elemental’ have faced unprecedented box office struggles. To regain momentum, upcoming Pixar projects will need to learn from the missteps of recent years.

Factors Contributing to Pixar’s Recent Struggles

Over the past few years, Pixar has encountered difficulties with its film releases. Following the release of ‘Toy Story 4’, the departure of John Lasseter, the head of the company, due to sexual assault allegations, brought about a significant restructuring of the studio’s leadership. While his departure was warranted, it raised questions about how the studio would reorganize itself in the aftermath.

The COVID-19 pandemic also cast a shadow over the film industry, affecting cinema attendance and media consumption overall. Although Pixar released movies during the pandemic, such as ‘Onward’ and ‘Luca’, their success paled in comparison to pre-pandemic releases. Even as films returned to theaters post-pandemic, titles like ‘Elemental’ saw limited profits during their theatrical run.

In addition to external challenges, Pixar faced controversy when it attempted to introduce more inclusive plotlines. While LGBTQ+ characters have appeared in background roles, some films, such as ‘Lightyear’, faced backlash. Similarly, ‘Turning Red’ sparked debate for its candid portrayal of puberty. While this is just one contributing factor, it has contributed to divisive online discussions surrounding the studio’s recent releases.

Disney Adapts a Strategic Approach

Disney, recognizing similar challenges in its Marvel and Star Wars franchises, has adjusted its strategy accordingly. Both the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and Star Wars saw an influx of content, which at times led to oversaturation. In 2022, Marvel didn’t produce any billion-dollar films, signaling a need for recalibration. Similarly, Star Wars faced project cancellations and mixed reception for properties like ‘The Book of Boba Fett’.

Taking a cue from these experiences, Pixar has chosen to slow down its release schedule. Historically, Pixar released two films annually, but with only ‘Elemental’ slated for 2023, this marks a departure from the norm. This shift allows Pixar to prioritize quality over quantity and creates anticipation among audiences for their theatrical releases.

A Promising Shift for ‘Elio’

The decision to move the release date of ‘Elio’ from March 1, 2024, to June 13, 2025, may prove advantageous for the original IP. March isn’t always a guaranteed blockbuster month, and a summer release, even if delayed, could provide ‘Elio’ with a better chance at box office success. With a revised strategy of releasing one film annually in strategic slots, Pixar aims to position their projects as must-see cinematic events.

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