Why Did Elemental Flop? The Animated Thriller Fell Behind Due to Marketing Oversight
Disney/ Pixar’s Elemental movie flopped on the movie screens. This isn’t like Pixar; I mean, this is the company renowned for making animated masterpieces like Toy Story, Cars, Inside Out, Soul, and many others that are capable of tugging at the heartstrings and captivating audiences of all ages.
But even the most successful studios drop the ball and produce bad films that fail spectacularly at the box office. And Elemental is one such film. It is an overlooked movie amidst Pixar’s library of successes.
Don’t get me wrong, Pixar’s Elemental has a good story, and it has good character development, but the film failed because of two things: Pixar didn’t market this film adequately, and as with all things success, if you succeed too much, you become a slave to your success.
What Is Elemental?
Elemental is a 2023 movie that tells us the story of Ember, an immigrant that lives in Element City, a place where fire and water coexist without much trouble until fire immigrants arrive, and they are hostilized and discriminated against by others in Element City.
Ember’s mom and dad moved to that city to hit the reset button, build a home and take root there, but things go south when Ember’s dad gets sick, and she must decide if she’s going to keep her family’s legacy or move on with her own passions and dreams.
Elemental’s Plot Is Good
At its core, Elemental’s plot is not that bad; it tells us a story of duty and family tradition, and personal aspirations. The conflict and plot knots are beautiful because they show how complex family dynamics can get. Furthermore, Elemental goes deep into Ember’s emotional struggles, and rather than resorting to the menial and simple tropes of pleasing Mom and Dad, the scriptwriters took it to artfully convey the authentic emotional weight of Ember’s dilemma.
Why Did Elemental Flop?
With such a strong narrative, why did Elemental flop then? You see, it’s not enough to have a good story. Elemental had a really bad marketing campaign that didn’t showcase the emotional depth of the movie.
If you see the trailer showcased just how good Pixar is at visual aspects and showcasing just how amazing Element City is, but it failed to highlight the emotional core of Elemental, that familial struggle, and that strong character story arc development.
As a result, the audience was left with just barely, superficially comprehending the emotional angles of such a deep story, and with that, the interest of the audience dwindled, and they went to the movies to watch something else.
If you don’t have that marketing hook, if your marketing team wasn’t good at putting out that product, then your audience wasn’t sure of what to expect, and that was the result: A $200 million budget movie that barely made $420 million at the box office in comparison to other hits from that studio like “Inside Out,” that with a much smaller budget of $175 million made $850 million in the box office.
And I quote “Inside Out” because it’s a movie that has the same depth and conveys a hooking story that goes in “Elemental’s” veins and grain.
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Pixar Became A Slave To Its Own Success
Pixar is one hell of a brand; when Steve Jobs and John Lasseter came up with Toy Story and pitched that to Disney, that became a gold mine for Walt Disney Pictures, Golden Globes, Academy Awards, and hit after hit with movies like Toy Story, Cars, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Ratatouille, Up, The Incredibles, and many more.
Pixar set the bar so high for itself; it created such high standards that any film falling short of perfection is a disappointment. And even though “Elemental” is a good film in its own right, the audience expected more.
The brand is synonymous with delivering equally resonant stories, and that may have overshadowed what made Elemental good with its charm and qualities, and that combination of factors led to Elemental flopping.
One last thing before we wrap up. Since Pixar’s success was evident, other studios wanted a piece of the pie: —Dreamworks made Shrek and banked on it—, and the competition is fierce; many studios are putting out films as visually stunning and with more engaging marketing and stories like Elemental.
And if you throw streaming platforms into the mix, things get even more uphill in that battle for the audience’s attention.
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