Pixar CEO Jim Morris Says Their Animated Films Cost More Because They're American Made

Pixar CEO Jim Morris Says Their Animated Films Cost More Because They're American Made

Pixar CEO Jim Morris addresses Elemental's $200M production budget in comparison to recent films like Across the Spider-Verse ($100M) and Mutant Mayhem ($70M).

By MarkJulian - Aug 16, 2023 05:08 PM EST
Filed Under: Pixar
Source: Variety

Is Pixar having a problem making profitable films of late simply because they're starting off behind the 8-ball with high production budgets?

For instance, the studio's most recent release Elemental had a reported production budget of $200 million. Lightyear also cost $200 million to produce while Turning Red had a production budget of $175 million.

In comparison, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse only cost $100 million to create while Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem had a reported budget of just $70 million.

So why do Pixar films cost so much?

CEO Jim Morris stated that it's because all of the animation is done in-house in America, while most other animated films outsource their animation to Korean and Japanese studios.

Morris explained: 

"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. We hope to find a path to make that work. Elemental was particularly expensive because all the characters have visual effects. We had been getting the film costs down."

"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."

Going by Morris' remarks, it doesn't sound like the studio will be changing its stance anytime soon. However, Pixar does deserve some praise for keeping jobs in the States instead of cutting costs and using Asian animation studios. 

Recently, Morris stated that they were pleased with Elemental's longevity at the box office and how the film weathered the storm of its disastrous opening weekend numbers.

Yet looking at the production cost for Pixar's rivals, it's painfully obvious that the film would be better positioned to reach profitability by cutting costs with offshore animation. If Pixar and Disney Animation continue to struggle at the box office, it seems inevitable that a change in policy will at the very least, be discussed.

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