Pixar’s Box Office Struggles: Disney CEO Reveals Impact of Disney+ Strategy

Pixar, renowned for its critically acclaimed and commercially successful animated films, has encountered challenges at the box office in recent times. Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, which owns Pixar, shared his insights into the factors that have affected Pixar’s box office performance. One significant aspect that Iger emphasized is the influence of Disney’s streaming service, Disney+.

The Box Office Underperformance of Pixar’s Elemental

One notable example of Pixar’s recent box office underperformance is their latest release, “Elemental.” Despite the high expectations associated with a Pixar film, “Elemental” had a disappointing opening weekend, collecting only $29.6 million. However, the film managed to regain momentum in subsequent weeks, displaying resilience in the face of a slow start.

Factors Affecting Pixar’s Box Office Setbacks

In his interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box, Bob Iger outlined two primary factors contributing to Pixar’s box office setbacks. Firstly, he highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on the release strategy of several Pixar films. As a result of the pandemic, a series of Pixar movies went directly to streaming platforms, bypassing traditional theatrical releases. This approach, driven by the need to adapt to the circumstances, inadvertently affected audience expectations.

Secondly, Iger acknowledged the presence of creative misses in some recent Pixar movies. While Pixar has a long history of delivering captivating and emotionally resonant stories, not every film strikes the same chord with audiences. These creative misses, albeit limited in number, have also influenced Pixar’s box office performance.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the entertainment industry to rethink its release strategies. Theatrical releases faced significant disruptions due to theater closures, restrictions on public gatherings, and audience reluctance to visit crowded spaces. In response, studios like Pixar had to adapt quickly to the changing landscape.

Consequently, certain Pixar releases, including “Elemental,” were redirected towards streaming platforms. This approach allowed films to reach audiences directly in the safety and comfort of their homes. However, this shift also unintentionally set an expectation among viewers that future Pixar movies might follow a similar path.

Audience Expectation and Streaming Availability

The rise of streaming platforms has transformed the way audiences consume content. Services like Disney+ have become popular destinations for movies, including Pixar’s beloved animated features. The convenience and accessibility offered by streaming platforms have created a new dynamic between audiences and traditional theatrical releases.

As viewers become accustomed to the ease of streaming, there is a growing expectation that movies will be available for streaming shortly after their theatrical release. This expectation, combined with the recent shift in Pixar’s release strategy, might have impacted the urgency felt by audiences to watch Pixar films in theaters, potentially leading to a decline in box office revenue.

Creative Misses in Recent Pixar Movies

Even the most celebrated studios occasionally experience creative misses. Pixar, known for its innovative storytelling and imaginative worlds, has set a high bar for itself. While the majority of their films have received critical acclaim and achieved commercial success, a few movies fell short of expectations.

These creative misses, though limited in number, have contributed to Pixar’s box office struggles. Audiences who had high hopes for a new Pixar release might have been disappointed by certain films that did not resonate as strongly as previous offerings. However, it’s important to note that Pixar’s track record of creating beloved movies remains strong, with numerous classics still cherished by audiences worldwide.

The Role of Disney+ in Pixar’s Box Office Struggles

Disney’s foray into the streaming landscape with Disney+ has had a significant impact on Pixar’s box office performance. The introduction of a streaming platform owned by the same parent company created new opportunities and challenges for Pixar. While streaming services like Disney+ allow audiences to enjoy a vast library of content, including Pixar films, it has also inadvertently affected the traditional box office revenue model.

With the option to watch films at home, viewers might choose to wait for the streaming release instead of rushing to theaters. This choice, combined with the expectation that Pixar films will eventually be available for streaming, has contributed to a decrease in the sense of urgency surrounding theatrical releases.

The Future of Pixar and Box Office Success

In the face of recent box office challenges, Pixar is likely to adapt its strategies to navigate the evolving landscape of film distribution. The studio has a proven track record of delivering emotionally resonant stories that captivate audiences of all ages. While some movies might experience box office setbacks, Pixar’s commitment to creativity and innovation will continue to fuel their success.

Looking ahead, Pixar will likely reassess its release strategies, considering the evolving viewer preferences and the impact of streaming platforms. By striking a balance between theatrical releases and digital distribution, Pixar can ensure that their movies reach a wide range of audiences while maintaining the magic and wonder that have defined their brand.


Pixar’s recent box office struggles can be attributed to a combination of factors. The impact of COVID-19, audience expectations shaped by streaming platforms, and occasional creative misses have all contributed to the challenges faced by Pixar at the box office. However, it’s important to recognize that Pixar remains an industry leader in creating beloved and critically acclaimed films.

As the entertainment landscape continues to evolve, Pixar will adapt and innovate, ensuring that their stories touch the hearts of viewers around the world. While box office success may fluctuate, the magic of Pixar’s storytelling will endure, transcending the challenges they face and leaving a lasting impact on audiences for years to come.