HomeDisney NewsCharting Pixar: 28 Years Of Ups, Downs, and Way Downs

Charting Pixar: 28 Years Of Ups, Downs, and Way Downs

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With the news that Elemental failed to get Pixar back up to the near $1B range, I decided to chart the box office performance of the animation studio. Taking into account worldwide box office numbers and adjusting all totals for inflation, let’s speculate about what caused Pixar to soar like an eagle and plummet like a stone.

Surprisingly, Pixar’s first three films never broke the billion-dollar mark. Monsters, Inc. almost made it. Finding Nemo blasted through that barrier in 2003, raking in $1,561,425,088 (adjusted for inflation). For the next several years, Pixar would experience various highs and lows but never did the box office tank as it did recently.

One of the possible declines could be due to John Lasseter’s departure. He had, after all, been with Pixar since the 1980s. He directed and wrote several films, including the shorts from the era before Toy Story.

Lasseter’s final directing credit, as far as theatrical Pixar movies go, was Cars 2. The sequel grossed $759,388,121 (adjusted for inflation). Although the box office wasn’t particularly bad by any means, the following eight years saw Pixar breaking the $1B mark, with and without the inflation calculations.

He left the company officially on December 31st, 2018. Pixar released The Incredibles 2 that year, which brought in just slightly less money than Finding Nemo did 15 years prior.

Post Lasseter’s exit, Pixar failed to breach the $1.5B threshold again. Toy Story 4, released just prior to the pandemic, hauled in $1.2B. Then everything changed.

Disney started its streaming service, Disney+, and soon afterward, the pandemic shuttered theatres for a good long while. Onward entered the cinemas right before the lockdowns, scrapping only $167,331,312 from theatergoers. The plunge in the take can be attributed to the lockdowns, but what about the movies that came out after those were lifted?

Chart Credit: Mike Phalin
Chart Credit: Mike Phalin

Soul, released the same year as Onward, met a similar fate but brought in around $25M less. Disney’s next decision meant the box office numbers were going to dip even lower.

Pixar’s next two films were to be released strictly on Disney+ and home media. Luca, with a small one-week limited release in the States and global screenings, brought in $56,018,439. Turning Red (review) did even worse.

The film about pandas and menstruation had to rely on the international markets for ticket sales. Turning Red barely took in $20M.

Then Disney decided that maybe it should put Pixar back in theatres… only to be disappointed again. This time the lack of ticket sales couldn’t be blamed on the pandemic alone. No, there was something else keeping audiences away.

Lightyear, the misguided spin-off attempting to explain why Toy Story‘s Andy wanted a Buzz action figure, only barely made its production budget back. A spacefaring adventure featuring one of the most recognized heroes in the last thirty years of the animation industry snagged a pitiful $200M.

However, the lack of a box office boom didn’t stop Disney from putting Pixar back in the Disney+ corner. The company tried again with another high-concept film that had a lot of potential.

Elemental could have been a pleasant surprise like Inside Out had been. Different elements trying to live together is a somewhat fresh idea. Audiences didn’t think so. As of today, Elemental only made a little more than Lightyear: $255,394,663.

What could get Pixar back on top? Maybe it should again be independent of Disney? What are your thoughts? Let us know below.

[Source: Box Office Mojo]

[Source: US Inflation Calculator]


Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.



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