Pixar is finally answering the long-awaited question: What if elements had feelings? The acclaimed studio has released the first trailer for its upcoming 27th feature “Elemental,” set to release next year.
Directed by Peter Sohn, who helmed Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur,” “Elemental” is set in a world where the four classic elements — fire, earth, water and air — are alive and coexist. The two main characters, go-with-the-flow Wade and fiery Ember, are both young adults living in the city who meet each other and bump heads. In spite of their fundamental differences, however, the two develop a connection as they realize they have deeper similarities than what’s on the outside.
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Sohn says studying science as a young child inspired the story. “You get the view of the periodic table of elements, and I always saw those as apartments. I made jokes about popping carbon next to nickel, but they don’t trust one another.”
In a statement when the film was first announced in May, Sohn explained that the premise of the film was further inspired by his experiences growing up in New York City as the son of Korean immigrants. “My parents emigrated from Korea in the early 1970s and built a bustling grocery store in the Bronx,” Sohn said. “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.’”
And the idea formed, “What if water and fire fell in love?”
For Ember, Sohn examines her journey of understanding identity and this love story. “We’re trying to honor fire, Ember and her parents. But fire was the hardest thing because it’s all visual effects.”
Sohn’s biggest challenge was finding a balance. At first, the team went for something realistic. “She was terrifying. She had a real fire in her eyes,” Sohn says. However, too much in the other direction made her too cartoon-like. “Once we found that dictated things. The world had to have a similar caricature and brightness to it that could allow these characters to live in.”
As for the film’s setting, Sohn reveals he imagined a city with a water-like infrastructure that would make it difficult for her. “There are trains on water and a lot of air balloons.”
With elements at the film’s core, Sohn teases the production design does “explore other elements including fire effects.”
Denise Ream, who worked with Sohn on “The Good Dinosaur,” produces the film.
“Elemental” is set to release in theaters on June 16, 2023. The film will keep Pixar in theaters following the release of “Lightyear” earlier this year. Before the “Toy Story” spinoff, three consecutive Pixar movies – “Soul,” “Luca” and “Turning Red” – all premiered on Disney+.
Watch the “Elemental” trailer below.
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