Pixar’s Elemental (2023) is about to splash into theaters, but CEO Peter Doctor signals a fiery change in the future of animated films with Disney+.
“We’ve trained audiences that these films will be available for you on Disney+,” says Pete Doctor, Pixar’s powerhouse director who’s credited with the direction of Inside Out (2015) and Up (2009).
With the anticipated Elemental just days away from debuting in theaters, The Walt Disney Company is gearing up to welcome audiences back to the big screen with its previously mentioned animated film and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023).
Nonetheless, Pete Doctor signals that something’s different in the contemporary release format of motion pictures, particularly when streaming services come into play:
“In the long run, there’s been a bit of a mixed blessing because we’ve trained audiences that these films will be available for you on Disney+. And it’s more expensive for a family of four to go to a theater when they know they can wait and it’ll come out on the platform.“
“We’re trying to make sure people realize there’s a great deal you’re missing by not seeing it on the big screen. In the case of ‘Elemental,’ it’s a beautiful spectacle, there’s detail everywhere. I think you feel it more and it’s a better experience. There’s the shared experience as well, that you get to see it in a room with strangers, and there’s something about the energy that comes from other people that makes the whole experience more vibrant and interesting.“
General audiences will turn to Toy Story (1995) as the pinnacle classic of Pixar Animation’s powerhouse catalog, expecting upcoming Pixar films to follow the same path of industry-changing technological breakthroughs and instant-classic writing. Since then, the groundbreaking animation studio has produced such classics like A Bug’s Life (1998), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), The Incredibles (2004), Cars (2005), Ratatouille (2007), Wall-E (2008), Toy Story 3 (2010), and Brave (2012).
However, with the rise of the”streaming wars,” audiences have noticed the influx of original animated movies coming to Disney+, such as Turning Red (2022) and Soul (2020).
Though Elemental was hand-crafted for a debut in theaters, Pete Doctor signals how moviegoers are already “trained” for the next evolution of watching films: at home with Disney+. Though Elemental was hand-crafted in Emeryville, CA for a debut in theaters, Pete Doctor signals how moviegoers are already “trained” for the next evolution of watching films: at home with Disney+.
Doctor shares with Variety:
“We made ‘Soul’ for the big screen. We looked at every frame. There’s so much detail and gorgeous imagery and work that was done that you can’t quite appreciate on a smaller screen. However, there was a pandemic going on. On one hand, we were so thankful that there was Disney+ so that we could release the film and people could see it. Otherwise, it would just sit on a shelf for a year and a half.”
Disney+ and HBO Max have revolutionized the streaming world with premiere releases of current films hitting their respective platforms after a set date or dates in theaters. Even Netflix let Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) sit in theaters for two weeks before subscribers could watch the new film on the streaming service.
Now, with Marvel Studios’ adding such works as Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023) to Disney+ just a few weeks after its theatrical debut, audiences have been silently conditioned to wait for movies to hit Disney+ instead of outright purchasing tickets to a theater (plus the additional concessions and all the fun).
This notion of streaming vs. physical movie-watching has been debated for years. Still, it’s interesting to see Pixar’s signal and awareness of how they create and release movies in the coming years.
Has Disney+ completely sidelined the importance of seeing a new movie in theaters? Families being able to save hundreds a year by simply waiting for The Little Mermaid (2023) or the upcoming Wish to arrive on Disney+ is a disheartening dismay of future filmmaking.
More About Elemental
Disney and Pixar’s “Elemental” is an all-new, original feature film set in Element City, where fire-, water-, land- and air residents live together. The story introduces Ember, a tough, quick-witted and fiery young woman, whose friendship with a fun, sappy, go-with-the-flow guy named Wade challenges her beliefs about the world they live in.