DC's 'The Flash' and Pixar's 'Elemental' disappoint at the box office

The Flash
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures / DC Studios)

"The Flash" isn't exactly a runaway success at the box office.

The superhero film grossed just $55 million domestically in its three-day opening weekend, a disappointing showing considering the budget was reportedly around $200 million. For comparison, DC's "Black Adam," which was widely considered a failure, opened to $67 million last year.

It was a whimper of an ending to the long saga of bringing "The Flash" to theaters, as the film was stuck in development hell for years. Then in 2022, there were questions about whether DC would still release it when star Ezra Miller faced a series of criminal allegations, including assault and burglary. As a result, Miller did virtually no press for "The Flash" after saying last year they would seek treatment for "complex mental health issues."

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But DC pressed ahead with the release, clearly believing the film was strong enough to overcome these negative headlines. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav even called "The Flash" the "best superhero movie I've ever seen." Yet moviegoers polled by CinemaScore gave the film a surprisingly poor B grade. That's the lowest score for any movie in the DC Extended Universe, tied with the widely panned "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." James Gunn, the new co-CEO of DC Studios, is already planning a reboot of the franchise. But this performance could mark the final nail in the coffin for the current DC shared universe, possibly making the studio more inclined to fully wipe the slate clean and not retain any of the same actors.

Meanwhile, "Elemental" also had a weak showing. Disney's animated film debuted with just $29.5 million domestically, the worst opening weekend in Pixar's history with the exception of the $29 million debut of the original "Toy Story" in 1995. "Elemental" is the second consecutive Pixar film to bomb at the box office after "Lightyear" tanked in 2022. It's also Disney's third consecutive animated failure, as "Strange World" was also a flop last year. This once again raises the question of whether Disney harmed Pixar at the box office by releasing several of its films for free on streaming during the pandemic, making the prestigious studio's output seem less worthy of watching in theaters. Pixar chief creative officer Pete Docter recently admitted to Variety, "We've trained audiences that these films will be available for you on Disney+."

All in all, it was a brutal box office bloodbath sure to inspire plenty of soul-searching in Hollywood.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.