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Pixar Boss Says Initial Response to Elemental Was 'Confusing': 'The Reviews Were Pretty Nasty'

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Today, Pixar's Elemental opened in theaters to mixed reviews. But based on the movie's intially positive reception at Cannes Film Festival, Pixar chief creative officer Pete Docter was surprised and called the movie's response "confusing."

In an interview with Variety, Docter spoke about the difference between Elemental's reception at Cannes and in reviews.

"That was a confusing half-hour there," he said, referring to the movie's premiere at Cannes Film Festival. "The film played, we got a seven-minute standing ovation, and you could feel the love beaming down from the audience to [director Peter Sohn]. They really responded to it. Then the embargo lifted and some of the reviews were pretty nasty."

He went on to acknowledge that "there are probably a lot of reasons for that."

"This is our 27th film," he continued. "For some reason, we seem to be critiqued not only based on other movies but on our own stuff. So, people will say, 'Oh, it’s not as good as my favorite Pixar film, whatever that is.'"

Still, Docter extended his appreciation for the movie's audience at Cannes.

"On one hand, that’s flattering, and it’s also kind of a tough position to be in and very tricky. I’m not sure that we would say we regret going to Cannes or anything like that. It was such a fantastic audience of film lovers."

It's not uncommon, however, for movies to get a warm reception at Cannes only to be panned by critics later. Olivia Wilde's generally poorly received Don't Worry Darling, for example, got a four-minute standing ovation (albeit a tame ovation by Cannes standards) last year.

Initially revealed in 2022, Elemental follows the fiery Ember as she discovers how much she has in common with the watery Wade (her elemental opposite) in Element City. We gave it a 6 in our review, praising its visual direction but docking points for its nonsensical story and "rote platitudes that feel like a lecture."


Amelia Zollner is a freelance writer at IGN who loves all things indie and Nintendo. Outside of IGN, they've contributed to sites like Polygon and Rock Paper Shotgun. Find them on Twitter: @ameliazollner.

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