Everything We Know About Elemental, Pixar's Love Story Between Fire And Water

The wonderful folks at Pixar Animation are ready to unleash their 27th feature with the imaginative "Elemental." Drawing inspiration from director Peter Sohn's youth growing up as a second-generation immigrant in New York City, the film is a celebration of cultural and ethnic diversity, wrapped in a heartwarming romantic comedy. The story is said to be inspired by films like "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," "Moonstruck," and "Amélie," but is presented in a way that appeals to audiences of all ages.

"Elemental" is also one of Pixar's most ambitious films to date, with producer Denise Ream telling Total Film Magazine, "We knew it was going to be hard. We didn't know it was going to be as hard as it was." As all of the characters are different elements, they all move in entirely different ways. Considering the film showcases an entire city of different elemental folk interacting with one another, the film pushed Pixar to its creative and technical limits.

With the film just a few months away, here's everything you need to know about "Elemental" before it arrives in theaters.

Elemental release date and where you can watch it

If you're looking for something to do around Father's Day weekend, make a trip to see "Elemental" in the theaters on June 16, 2023. This is the first Pixar film since "Lightyear" to debut on the big screen, after the pandemic saw "Soul," "Luca," and "Turning Red" premiere on the Disney+ streaming service. While there's been no official date for when "Elemental" will be available to stream, Disney and Pixar tend to run 45-90 day theatrical windows before making their films available for digital purchase or streaming.

The release date is a risky move for Pixar and Walt Disney Studios, as "Elemental" will be competing against Wes Anderson's highly-anticipated "Asteroid City," the Lionsgate horror-comedy "The Blackening," and the DC superhero blockbuster "The Flash," which is already boasting positive reception from critics after a recent screening at CinemaCon.

Fortunately, the footage from "Elemental" shown to /Film's own Ethan Anderton at Pixar (which also played at CinemaCon 2023) was met with plenty of enthusiasm as well. 

What we know about the plot of Elemental

"Elemental" is another take on the Shakespearean star-crossed lovers' story, but because it's from Pixar, there's obviously going to be a lot of heart and probably some moments that will have us reaching for a box of Kleenex. The film is set in Element City, a place where fire, water, land, and air residents all live together in harmony, as long as the elements don't mix. No, this is not the opening narration of "Avatar: The Last Airbender," I swear.

The film centers on Ember, a feisty and fiery young woman from Firetown who befriends a "go-with-the-flow" water guy named Wade, and starts to question whether or not keeping the elements segregated is such a good idea. We've talked in depth on /Film about how the core of "Elemental" is not just a romantic comedy, but also a deeply personal tale about immigrants. The different areas of Element City were inspired by major metropolises across the globe, to highlight the beauty and wonderment found in different cultures, but without making the elements avatars (no pun intended) for any specific race or culture. But Ember and Wade are the heart of this story, and it's only a matter of time before we see if their love will truly conquer all, or if their differences have doomed them to stay apart.

What we know about the cast of Elemental

"Elemental" features voice performances from Leah Lewis ("Nancy Drew") as Ember Lumen, and Mamoudou Athie ("Jurassic World: Dominion") as Wade Ripple. The duo is joined by an impressive roster of talent, including Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek,") as Brook Ripple, Shila Ommi ("Tehran") as Cinder, Joe Pera ("Joe Pera Talks With You") as Fern, Wendi McLendon-Covey ("The Goldbergs") as Gale, Matthew Yang King ("Only Yesterday") as Alan Ripple, Ronnie del Carmen ("Inside Out") as Bernie, Mason Wertheimer ("Past My Bedtime") as Clod, and Innocent Ekakitie ("Ivy + Bean") as Polo Ripple.

What we know about the creative team behind Elemental

Pixar really brought in an impressive roster for "Elemental," boasting a phenomenal creative team of animation's finest. The film is directed by Peter Sohn, who directed the Pixar short "Partly Cloudy" and the feature film "The Good Dinosaur." Sohn has also lent his voice to a number of beloved animated characters, like Emile in "Ratatouille," Squishy in "Monsters University," and most recently, Sox in "Lightyear." The film was written by John Hoberg, Kat Likkel, and Brenda Hsueh.

"Elemental" is produced by Denise Ream ("The Good Dinosaur," "Cars 2") and executive produced by Pete Docter (director of "Up," "Inside Out," and "Soul"). The film will feature music by Thomas Newman, who has also scored beloved films like "WALL-E," "Finding Dory," as well as James Bond films "Skyfall" and "Spectre." Honestly, his musical resume is ridiculously impressive, but he's part of the musical Newman family dynasty (the same as composer Randy Newman) who are the most-nominated extended family at the Academy Awards with a whopping 95 nominations, all for music.

Watch the trailer for Elemental here

The trailer is a delightful introduction to the world of Element City, narrated by Ember as our unofficial tour guide to this gorgeous environment. Pixar has always produced some of the most beautiful animation in cinematic history, and "Elemental" is no different. The vibrancy of the colors is a sight to behold, but the inventive ways the film incorporates easily identifiable objects in our world into the world of Element City is truly impressive. For example, the citizens of Firetown use wheeled charcoal grills as strollers for their baby flames, and when the Water people do the wave at a sporting event, they literally make a wave.

It's obviously unwise to count chickens before they hatch, but it looks like Pixar has a winner on their hands with "Elemental."