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Elemental: 4 Quick Things We Know About The Upcoming Pixar Movie

Pixar's Elemental logo
(Image credit: Disney / Pixar)

The Pixar movies have always been a wonderful source for introducing audiences to new and exciting worlds, such as one in which superheroes exist or another where the monsters that live in our closets reside. This could even include a reintroduction to our own familiar surroundings from a new perspective (such as the Toy Story movies), a reintroduction to our own selves through a more introspective lens (like how Inside Out explores our inner feelings), or a world that exists beyond life itself (featuring the no longer living and not yet born characters in the Soul voice cast). A recurring theme among those titles mentioned above (and in many other Pixar classics) is the personification of inanimate objects or abstract concepts to symbolize a more grounded theme.

It appears that such a tradition is being upheld with Elemental - Pixar Animation’s latest production to be distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. The upcoming animated fantasy has already garnered plenty of anticipation from fans of the studio since it released its concept art and a few other details about the unique and intriguing plot in May 2022. We will be sure to tell you everything that has been confirmed so far about what the story will be and more regarding Pixar’s next feature-length effort in our following guide, but we shall start by revealing when you will be able to see it.

Luca and Alberto in Pixar's Luca

(Image credit: Pixar)

Elemental Is Set To Release Summer 2023 

Pixar has already seen two of its own original movies become part of the 2022 movie releases recently. In March, Turning Red was a hit with critics and audiences alike after dropping exclusively on Disney+, and June saw the debut of the in-universe Toy Story movies spin-off, Lightyear - the first feature-length film by the studio to receive a theatrical release in nearly two years after Disney’s streaming service became its main home in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Well, it appears that another big wait is in order for Pixar fans who are excited to see Elemental

The animation studio’s next major film (which will also be its 27th feature-length effort overall) is currently set to come out on Friday, June 16, 2023. However, we have yet to see confirmation that Elemental will be a theatrical release or another exclusive to audiences with a Disney+ subscription. One might have assumed we would see it on the big screen with Lightyear getting such treatment this year, but following its less-than-stellar box office results during its opening weekend, seeing more Pixar films going straight to streaming is a possibility.

Concept art for Pixar's Elemental

(Image credit: Disney / Pixar)

Elemental Takes Place In A World Where Elements Like Water And Fire Are People

I, however, really do hope that Lightyear’s failure to “skyrocket” to Number One in its debut does not prevent Elemental from securing a theatrical release. After learning what the film is going to be about, I believe that this will be an experience that deserves to be seen on the big screen. As revealed along with the release of its concept art, the title of Elemental refers to the film’s setting: a world inhabited by natural elements such as land, water, fire, and air that have taken on an anthropomorphic form. 

The story will focus primarily on the relationship between a hot-tempered, fire-based woman named Ember and a more free-flowing, water-based male character named Wade, who begin to discover that they have more in common with each other than two people of their respective kinds would expect. At the moment, there is no word on who will play these characters or who else may appear in the Elemental voice cast. A cameo from Pixar’s good-luck charm, John Ratzenberger, is certainly possible, despite his surprising absence from the studio’s last three releases (opens in new tab): Luca, Turning Red, and Lightyear.

Arlo and Spot in The Good Dinosaur

(Image credit: Pixar)

Peter Sohn Is Directing Elemental

One person whose involvement in the production of Elemental can be confirmed is the one calling the shots from behind the scenes: director Peter Sohn. The filmmaker’s background in animation dates back to the early 2000s with his work at Warner Bros. on The Iron Giant and Osmosis Jones. 

His tenure with Pixar began when he worked as a story artist and production artist for Finding Nemo, before taking on various responsibilities on several more favorites, including providing the voice of Squishy in Monsters University in 2013. Sohn, whose first directorial effort was the 2009 short, Partly Cloudy, will mark his second feature-length film as a director with Elemental after 2015’s The Good Dinosaur.

Also working behind the scenes on Elemental is Denise Ream, who previously produced four other Pixar films - Up, Cars 2, Toy Story 4, and the aforementioned The Good Dinosaur. After getting her start as a production assistant on the 1989 horror sequel Curse II: The Bite, she became better known in Hollywood as a visual effects producer for Industrial Light and Magic, helping create onscreen magic in films like 1997’s Men in Black, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001, or Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, in which she also made a cameo in 2005.

Peter Sohn as Squishy in Monsters University

(Image credit: Disney / Pixar)

Elemental Is Inspired By Peter Sohn’s Childhood

While the anthropomorphic earthly element characters at the center of Elemental are certainly a new and inventive concept, it actually comes from a more grounded and personal source. Along with the release concept art and details of the film’s plot was the following testimony from director Peter Sohn about how his own experiences growing up inspired the story:

My parents emigrated from Korea in the early 1970s and built a bustling grocery store in the Bronx. We were among many families who ventured to a new land with hopes and dreams—all of us mixing into one big salad bowl of cultures, languages and beautiful little neighborhoods. That’s what led me to Elemental. Our story is based on the classic elements—fire, water, land, and air. Some elements mix with each other, and some don’t. What if these elements were alive?

Knowing that this otherwise strange and fantastic concept is based on real human experiences (a topical theme that Pixar has delved into several times before, of course) makes us even more excited to see Elemental. The summer of 2023 cannot come fast enough!

Jason Wiese
Jason Wiese

Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.