The Disney Flop That Slowly Became A Hit

By Jason Collins | Published

Disney isn’t having a great time with its 2023 lineup, as well as certain films scheduled for 2024, mostly due to fandom and critical response. However, not all is bad; some movie that was poorly released to theaters are slowly gaining their due recognition. Elemental turned things around in a big way.

Elemental Became A Hit

Disney’s Elemental, a Pixar animated fire-water rom-com, is currently on its journey from a box office flop to a year and hit, as reported by Vulture.

This is somewhat surprising, considering that Elemental opened well below projections. During Elemental’s fourth week, the box office performance was so dreadful that an online news outlet reported no hope of recouping its $200 million production budget domestically.

Huge Turnaround

However, by early August, Elemental made a drastic turnaround, with media outlets now praising the film’s unprecedented box office comeback, with Elemental grossing nearly $500 million worldwide.

Not bad for a film with such a disastrous opening.

A Legit Blockbuster?

pixar elemental

Box office comeback aside, Elemental rose through the ranks for this year’s highest-grossing blockbusters—landing at #9 at the moment—and became the most-watched title in Disney+ history, as well as the frontrunner in the Best Animated Feature Oscar.

The latter isn’t officially confirmed but speculation by the reputable gurus of the industry, whose statements, unfortunately, can’t be verified at the moment.

Having a box office failure and a massive sleeper hit nominated for an Award is an achievement in its own right, let alone winning one.

Reviews Were Unkind

With that said, we have to mention that Elemental’s journey from a flop to a sleeper hit purportedly worthy of an Award wasn’t an easy one, and that’s mostly due to various responses by media outlets.

We won’t name any, but the initial Elemental reviews were unkind, with many outlets criticizing the film’s narrative as being a well-known trope and calling its art style experimental.

Our counterargument states that all tropes have been explored, and all the stories have been told. As we said before, originality stems from ignorance; true genius lies in making an old recipe seem new.

Experimental Style And Budget

pixar elemental

As for the experimental art style, we can argue that there’s no such thing and the audiences either love it or hate it. In the case of Elemental, we’ll let the numbers speak for themselves.

The animated film went on to recuperate 250% of its production budget, which is generally considered a significant success, indicating a strong audience interest.

This only reiterates our past statements that the content is generally for the audiences to judge; critics can be bought (you wouldn’t believe the amount of lobbying for an Award), but the masses don’t lie. 

Sleeper Hit Of The Year

pixar elemental

Ultimately, love conquers all. The opposites-attract rom-com between Ember, a headstrong, fiery-tempered fire woman, and Wade, an overly emotional anthropomorphic puddle of water, won the audiences’ hearts. Elemental went on to become Disney’s sleeper hit film of 2023.

The film’s Rotten Tomatoes score slowly crept up to 74% fresh. In comparison, the audience score jumped to a staggering 93%, which only attests to the film’s quality and the fact that movie critics sometimes have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.