From the Toy Story franchise to films like Cars and Finding Nemo, the animation studio Pixar has been behind great animated films that are still loved and watched by audiences of all ages.
Pixar's stunning animations, lovable characters, and innovative storytelling ensure that each film produced by the studio is a critical and cultural success. However, the standards expected from Pixar films are so high that despite all its success stories, the studio has also seen a handful of box office disappointments.
Here is a look at five Pixar movies that did not meet the expectations of the animation studio.
5 Pixar films that flopped at the box office
1) Lightyear (2022)
Lightyear was one of Pixar's most anticipated films of 2022. A spinoff of the original Toy Story films, the film explores the backstory of the original Buzz Lightyear, the space ranger on whom the toy in the Toy Story universe is based.
With a storyline revolving around everyone's favorite space ranger and a voice cast featuring the likes of Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Taika Waititi, and James Brolin, the film was expected to be a definite hit. However, the film bombed at the box office, earning just $226 million on a production budget of $200 million.
Despite being a part of the immensely popular Toy Story franchise, the film was a letdown and lost the studio an estimated $106 million. Despite praise for its animation and visual effects, audiences felt that the movie was not connected to the original Toy Story franchise, especially due to the lack of presence of familiar characters like Woody and other toys.
2) Turning Red (2022)
Although Turning Red made history by being the first Pixar feature film to be directed by a woman (Domee Shi), the movie was a box-office disappointment. Earning a measly $20 million against a budget of $175 million, the film was one of the biggest box office bombs of 2022.
The movie tells the story of a 13-year-old girl named Mei Lee who turns into a giant red panda whenever she gets too excited or emotional due to a hereditary curse. Like most films released during the COVID-19 pandemic, Turning Red was released simultaneously in theaters as well as on the Disney+ streaming platform. This was one of the main factors that impacted the movie's box office numbers.
Although the film did not fare well financially, the movie was a hit among audiences, with many praising its unique approach and storyline.
3) Soul (2020)
Soul is considered to be one of Pixar's best movies in recent times. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the movie was released primarily on Disney+, where it enjoyed a highly successful run. However, the movie was a box office flop, earning only $121 million globally on a budget of $150 million.
The movie tells the story of a middle-school music teacher named Joe Gardner, who accidentally falls into a coma and finds himself in a place called the Great Before. Joe has to find a way to return to Earth and pursue his dream of becoming a professional jazz musician.
The movie received critical acclaim from audiences and critics alike, who praised its unique and thought-provoking story, its vibrant animation, and its memorable characters. Soul also received several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and the Golden Globe for Best Animated Motion Picture.
Despite its poor theatrical run, the movie did exceptionally well on Disney+ and was one of the most-watched movies on the platform in its first few weeks of release.
4) Onward (2020)
Onward was considered a box office disappointment due to its performance at the box office, grossing only $142 million worldwide against its $175–200 million budget. Revolving around two elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, who embark on a quest to spend one more day with their deceased father using a magical staff, the movie explores themes of brotherhood, loss, and the power of family.
The film's box office performance was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its theatrical run was cut short when many theaters around the world were forced to close due to the pandemic.
5) The Good Dinosaur (2015)
The Good Dinosaur tells the story of a young Apatosaurus named Arlo who befriends a human boy named Spot in a world where dinosaurs never went extinct. Despite a massive marketing campaign and a production budget estimated to be around $200 million, the movie grossed approximately $332 million at the worldwide box office, which is a relatively low number for a Pixar movie.
The movie's underperformance was attributed to a variety of factors, including its troubled production history, a lack of excitement among audiences, and strong competition at the box office from other movies released around the same time, such as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
While The Good Dinosaur was not a critical failure and received generally positive reviews from critics, its box office performance fell short of Pixar's usual standards.
Despite being financial failures for the studio, these films remain beloved and special to audiences around the world. Since its first production, Pixar has pushed the boundaries of animation technology and storytelling, creating a diverse array of movies that appeal to audiences of all ages.
With a commitment to innovation, creativity, and emotional storytelling, Pixar has established itself as one of the most influential and beloved animation studios in the world.