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Pixar's Elemental - What We Know So Far

We're soon set to go on a secret mission in uncharted space with Chris Evans as a new (and yet kind of old) space ranger in "Lightyear," but after that, Pixar is set to bring us back down to earth ... while making sure to throw in some wind, fire, and water for good measure, while they're at it. Adding to their long line of pixelated pairings from the likes of "Toy Story," "Monsters Inc.," and "Finding Nemo," the studio with the most famous desk lamp in the Hollywood has announced a brand new project called "Elemental" that will focus on a unique double-act that is quite literally a force to be reckoned with.

So just what is the next potential hit on Pixar's hands? And why could some of its essential ingredients check the boxes for fans of properties like "Zootopia" and "Avatar: The Last Airbender" (the series, not the film, don't panic) in equal measure?

What's the story with Elemental?

Pixar has spent decades showing relationships between friends-in-the-making go hot and cold, but with "Elemental," it'll be an issue that will become far more literal. As per the official press release from the studio, "the film journeys alongside an unlikely pair, Ember and Wade, in a city where fire-, water-, land- and air-residents live together. The fiery young woman and the go-with-the-flow guy are about to discover something elemental: how much they actually have in common."

A concept image of the characters and their world has also been released, which shows Ember and Wade's design, perfectly backing up their clashing personalities. While not appearing to be as hot-headed as, say, Anger from "Inside Out," Ember looks like a fiery office worker opposite Wade's chilled guy with his watery head in the clouds. There's also our first glimpse of what other element-based characters from different areas look like, with Earth-based folk looking like huggable trees and what might be air-based inhabitants resembling souls from well, "Soul." 

It's clear that Pixar is in the stages of creating another beautiful world to send us around in. What's even more exciting is who will be giving us the tour.

Who is directing Elemental?

When it comes to making characters that bring fire and water to life, it's a job that Pixar shouldn't have much issue with, given the stunning CGI magic they've delivered over the years. One particular entry in the studio's pantheon of hits that constructed a photo-realistic world crammed with dusty landscapes and heavy water currents was "The Good Dinosaur." While not receiving as much critical acclaim as some of Pixar's other films (it stands at the bottom half of rankings on Rotten Tomatoes), it was a great effort from director Peter Sohn that has aged well. Sohn is also the director who helmed the tremendous short, "Partly Cloudy."

And now, Sohn will be sending us around this world, as well. However, what'll add even more depth to the world of "Elemental" is how much of Sohn's own life will be fed into it.

In the newest press release, Sohn explained how the film was inspired by his younger years growing up in New York. "My parents emigrated from Korea in the early 1970s and built a bustling grocery store in the Bronx," he 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.'"

When and where will we see Elemental?

Marked as the 27th film in Pixar's long legendary list of movies, "Elemental" is currently slated for release on June 16, 2023, just over a year from the film's announcement. 

Given this lengthy amount of time, there are hopes that — following this year's "Lightyear" — it will get the studio back into the swing of heading somewhere we've not seen a Pixar film in a while, and that's the movie theater.

With the pandemic still affecting the box office and its schedule lately, Pixar — as revered as it may be — is still overcoming the COVID-influenced hurdles of getting people into theaters. "Turning Red," while met with a positive response critical response (and a watercooler controversy that may be exactly what Pixar needed) was pulled from theaters and streamed on Disney+ instead, like "Luca" and "Soul" before it. Presuming that "Lightyear" pulls through as the first theatrical Pixar release since the start of the pandemic — which it should, at this point, now that movie-going is finally making a comeback — Pixar fans will be able to see "Elemental" next summer.