Pixar’s financial troubles may deepen if its upcoming sci-fi film faces another delay

Pixar has decided to postpone the release of one of its highly anticipated projects, but the fate of its upcoming sci-fi film hangs in the balance if further delays aren’t made. The studio is grappling with its history of disappointing box office returns, and unless there’s a rescheduling for “Elio,” the potential for a repeat performance of past setbacks looms large.

Initially slated for release in March 2024, “Elio” faced a significant setback due to the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes, which pushed its premiere back over a year. Clearly, Disney’s animation arm is determined to give this film every chance at success, particularly in the wake of underperforming titles like “Elemental.” However, the current release window for “Elio” presents a considerable challenge.

“Elio” tells the tale of a young boy mistaken by aliens as Earth’s leader and whisked away to represent his planet—an endearing premise that aligns with Pixar’s storytelling prowess. Helmed by Adrian Molina, known for his work on successful projects like “Coco,” “Lightyear,” and “Luca,” the movie is poised for greatness. Yet, its release timing remains a critical issue.

Set to debut on the same day as DreamWorks’ live-action adaptation of “How to Train Your Dragon,” “Elio” faces stiff competition. Despite the distinct genres, both films target a similar audience demographic, posing a dilemma for families torn between the two. Given DreamWorks’ track record with the animated franchise, “How to Train Your Dragon,” Pixar’s “Elio” faces an uphill battle at the box office.

While Pixar’s brand carries weight, “Elio” lacks the star power and familiarity of established franchises like “How to Train Your Dragon.” The latter’s transition into live-action and its built-in fanbase offer a significant advantage. Although Disney’s sequels and remakes have found success, original stories like “Elio” have struggled to gain traction.

With the news of DreamWorks’ upcoming release, the case for delaying “Elio” further becomes compelling. Yet, Pixar remains silent on any adjustments following its initial postponement. While the studio may be wary of further delays after a 15-month setback, the potential upside of avoiding direct competition with DreamWorks is evident.

In 2024, Pixar’s sole theatrical offering, “Inside Out 2,” presents a glimmer of hope. The predecessor’s global success and the sequel’s promising trailer reception hint at a potential solution to Pixar’s box office woes. However, without a rescheduling for “Elio” and a clash with DreamWorks in 2025, Pixar risks regressing to its prior struggles.

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