Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios will release the new feature animation film “Elemental” on June 16. The film is directed by California Institute of the Arts alum Peter Sohn (Film/Video BFA 1999). Sohn, who previously directed The “Good Dinosaur” and “Partly Cloudy,” is also credited with co-writing the story for the new film.
“Elemental” follows the story of Ember Lumen and Wade Ripple as they navigate Element City. In this world, the anthropomorphic elements of earth, water, air, and fire live together. However, there is one rule they must all abide by: “Elements cannot mix.” Despite this, the fiery young Ember, voiced by Leah Lewis, and go-with-the-flow Wade, voiced by Mamoudou Athie, are brought together and journey to see how much they have in common.
In an interview with Cartoon Brew, Sohn said the film’s premise, whether water and fire could ever connect, was inspired by his own childhood in New York.
“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.”
Honoring his parents who passed away during the making of the film was also central to Sohn’s process. He told The Hollywood Reporter that the movie is about “thanking your parents and understanding their sacrifices.”
“Elemental” will be shown only in theaters when it is released on Friday, June 16. The film will be distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is rated PG.
Since his time at CalArts, Sohn has worked in the animation world in many capacities, including as a voice actor, director, animator, storyboard artist, production designer, senior creative team member, writer, producer and cinematographer.
Sohn joined Pixar Animation Studios in 2000, working on films like “Finding Nemo” (2003), “The Incredibles” (2004) and “WALL-E” (2008) in the creative departments.
He has also lent his voice to characters like Emile in “Ratatouille” (2007), Scott “Squishy” Squibbles in “Monsters University” (2013), SOX in “Lightyear” (2022) and Ciccio in “Luca” (2021), among numerous others.
Sohn also worked with Warner Bros. on “The Iron Giant” (1999) and with Disney TV prior to joining Pixar.