Disney appears to have another flop on its hands with “Elemental,” the animated adventure billed as the first to feature a nonbinary character, which registered the weakest weekend opening for a Pixar film since 1995.
“Elemental,” an opposites-attract story, took in $29.6 million from June 16-18 in what Variety described as “by far the worst start in modern history for Pixar,” earning slightly more than the $29.1 million for the studio’s first film, “Toy Story.”
The latest release also represents another step in Disney’s dogged march to the left by hammering audiences with thinly veiled lectures about racism, xenophobia and sexual orientation.
“The entire film is a Leftist xenophobia allegory with loads of systemic racism built right in,” said film critic James Carrick in a review for Worth it or Woke?
It’s possible that “Elemental” will rally as did “Toy Story,” but so far, the movie looks like the third strike in the Disney woke era after the disappointing 2022 “Toy Story” sequel “Lightyear” and the 2020’s “Onward,” which was banned in the Middle East for its references to a lesbian relationship.
The story is set in the city of Element, where beings made of the four elements – water, air, earth and fire – reside in harmony, with the exception of fire elementals, who are seen as dangerous and largely relegated to the other side of the tracks.
A fire “immigrant” named Ember Lumen whose family is fighting discrimination as they climb the socio-economic ladder falls in love with water-being Wade Ripple, who has a nonbinary sister named Lake.
In what may or may not be a coincidence, the movie title for “Elemental” is written in rainbow letters.
“BIG ANNOUNCEMENT,” tweeted Kai Ava Hauser, who voiced the character. “I got to play Pixar’s first nonbinary character! Meet Lake!”
Less impressed was Abby Johnson, founder of the pro-life group And Then There Were None, who advised Disney to “Go back to entertaining instead of indoctrinating.”
“Pixar’s recently released animated film “Elemental” featured a pair of lesbian parents and a ‘non-binary’ character,” tweeted Ms. Johnson. “It bombed at the box office and is Pixar’s lowest performing opening weekend in their entire history.”
While “Toy Story” earned slightly less in its weekend debut than did “Elemental,” the 1995 film would have more than $50 million when adjusted for inflation, the Hollywood Reporter said.
Sorry for the late entry; Father’s Day and all.@pixarelemental is beyond elementary. It is the most overtly agenda-driven piece of propaganda put out by Disney yet.
Read our reviewhttps://t.co/TXzZOeLvka
— Worth it or Woke? (reviews) (@worthitorwoke) June 19, 2023
Several reviewers pointed out that the racism metaphor breaks down because the fire beings, with their hot tempers, actually do destroy property and scorch other elements, which explains why the rest of society wants to avoid them.
“In one scene, Ember tells Wade of a time when a racist security guard wouldn’t let her father and her into a museum, saying, ‘But they said our fire was too dangerous and wouldn’t let us in,’” said Mr. Carrick.
He continued: “Um, yeah … you’re made of fire. It seems more than reasonable to be cautious of an entire group of people who could kill you if one stubs his toe, let alone is shown to incinerate property with a thought.”
The Verge critic Charles Pulliam-Moore said that Ember, when her temper flares, “accidentally burns off a tree-person’s foliage (which is their… skin? unclear).”
“[I]t’s very easy to imagine why the other elements might fear fire people, which complicates the movie’s framing of them as minorities being unjustly discriminated against,” he said.
Praising the film’s political messaging was MovieWeb reviewer Julian Roman, who said that the Pixar release “addresses racism and xenophobia with spectacular CGI animation.”
“Elemental also depicts a lesbian couple in Wade’s family,” said the review. “The film embraces diversity and inclusion for all. These themes have become hot-button issues in a charged political atmosphere. Some may view Elemental as indoctrinating propaganda for interracial relationships and alternative lifestyles, but sincerely, this shouldn’t become a rallying cry against moral turpitude.”
The film earned $15 million overseas, bringing the global haul to a tepid $44.5 million. The movie reportedly cost $200 million and was expected to earn $35 million in its opening weekend.