Pixar’s production spend has been a hot topic lately and Pixar’s President has weighed in on the debate of why its films cost so much.
Although its latest release, Elemental has quietly amassed almost half a billion dollars at the global box office, much of the talk of late regarding Pixar hasn’t been oozing with positivity. Yes, Elemental has ridden out a shaky start to do okay numbers for Disney but Pixar’s previous release before that was the Toy Story spin-off Lightyear which proved to be a significant commercial under-performer.
As such, there’s been a lot of chatter about Pixar films costing too much to produce, especially as other animation divisions are seeing soaring profits. Sony’s animation division and Universal’s Illumination are the two prime examples, with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and The Super Mario Bros. Movie each crossing into profitability far sooner due to smaller production costs.
The issue really becomes apparent when you consider that Paramount’s Nickelodeon Studios and Mikros Animation could have made almost three made Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem films for the price of Pixar’s latest project.
Speaking with Variety, Pixar’s President, Jim Morris has been defending the cost of the studio’s films, explaining why they cost more than those of their competitors. He states that “one of the ways you make these films for less money, and almost all of our competitors do this, is to do work offshore. It’s only us and Disney Animation that makes animation films in the U.S. anymore, with all of the artists under one roof. We feel like having a colony of artists approach has differentiated our films”.
Morris also argues that the studio’s budgets are fully reflective of the actual cost of creating a film, including the cost of executives, something he believes isn’t the case with other animation houses. “The other thing I’ll say about our film budgets is that our whole company exists only to make these films. So when we say a budget, that is everything it takes to run the whole company. Sometimes, the budgets [for other films] that get reported are physical production costs and don’t include the salaries of executives and things like that. Our budgets include all of that, so there’s some accounting context that gets lost. But that doesn’t mean they’re not expensive”.
Regardless of these reasons, Pixar’s parent company, Disney will no doubt be looking enviously at some of the profits generated by other animation divisions this year and be considering how to reshape the studio without losing the core elements that have made it such a success over the decades.
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