The Disney Surprise Hit Of The Year Is Now Streaming

By Britta DeVore | Updated

pixar elemental

While it certainly didn’t look promising, Disney and Pixar’s Elemental crawled its way out of a terrible opening weekend to become one of the top-grossing films of the summer. Of course, it was no Barbie or Oppenheimer, but the light-hearted animated feature with a good lesson still managed to beat out other anticipated blockbusters including Fast X, The Flash, and Blue Beetle. Now, audiences can catch it from the comfort of their own homes as the film has officially made its way onto Disney+.

Directed by Peter Sohn, Elemental follows the story of the citizens of Element City, earth, wind, water, and fire. In it, audiences are introduced to Ember Lumen (Leah Lewis), a member of the fire family who is told to stay away from the other elements because her people pose a great threat to the rest of the city.

Following the success of The Good Dinosaur, Peter Sohn took his pitch for Elemental to the heads of Pixar with the studio eventually giving it the greenlight.

When she meets Wade Ripple (Mamoudou Athie) and the pair begin to fall in love, Ember’s – and the rest of her family’s – world is turned upside down as they seek to understand their similarities rather than differences.

Along with Mamoudou Athie and Leah Lewis, Elemental also stars Ronnie del Carmen (Inside Out), Catherine O’Hara (Schitt’s Creek), Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs), Joe Pera (Joe Pera Talks to You), Matt Yang King (Riverdale), Jonathan Adams (Last Man Standing), Shila Ommi, Ronobir Lahiri, and Mason Wertheimer. 

pixar elemental

Celebrating a long career in the world of animated films, Elemental was director Peter Sohn’s sophomore feature-length film following 2015’s The Good Dinosaur. His voice can be heard and his animations seen in a slew of notable titles including Finding Dory, The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Monsters University, Inside Out, Lightyear, Onward, Soul, Turning Red, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, and many, many more. Up next, he’ll join the team behind anticipated features including Elio and Inside Out 2.

Elemental proved to be one of the summer’s biggest hits, eventually hitting $484.2 million.

Following the success of The Good Dinosaur, Sohn took his pitch for Elemental to the heads of Pixar with the studio eventually giving it the greenlight. The filmmaker has said that he based the storyline (which he co-penned) on experiences he had as a child growing up in New York City as the son of immigrants in the 1970s. Looking to blend cultures together, Sohn also turned to classic films including Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Moonstruck, and Amélie for inspiration. 

A true labor of love, the production of Elemental lasted for almost a full decade, with the team finally completing it seven years after they started. While much of the project was done in the studio, the creative team also took trips to each other’s homes to ensure the wheels continued to turn toward the finish line. When all was said and done, the production cost behind Elemental clocked in at $200 million.

pixar elemental

With this budget in mind, it’s easy to see why Disney and Pixar were panicking during Elemental’s opening weekend when it only managed to deposit $11.8 million on its first day. By the end of that first weekend, it hit $29.5 million which was still lower than its projected $35-40 million.

Up against titles including The Flash and The Blackening, it seemed that Elemental had been eclipsed. However, unlike The Flash, Elemental proved to be one of the summer’s biggest hits, eventually hitting $484.2 million.

Elemental marked a comeback for Pixar and Disney as the studios’ prior film, last summer’s Lightyear, saw an incredibly poor show at the box office, bringing in $226.4 million against its $200 million budget.

Not only was COVID-19 a detriment to the success of the Chris Evans-led Lightyear but the plot surrounding the Toy Story spin-off also had audiences confused on what they were going to see. With Elemental putting Pixar back on the charts, it’s likely that the next two films on the docket, Elio and Inside Out 2 will follow in its footsteps. 

Other September Disney+ Additions

September has been a terrific month for Disney+ subscribers as, along with Elemental, several other notable titles are making their way onto the streamer.

Included in the lineup is the second season of I Am Groot, the live-action The Little Mermaid, and new episodes of Ahsoka. An entertaining film with a heartfelt and touching message of community, paired with vibrant animations that only Pixar could do, this weekend is the perfect time to check out Elemental for yourself now streaming on Disney+.