On June 16, Pixar will release its new feature animation film Elemental, directed by Peter Sohn (Film/Video BFA 99). 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.”
Watch the trailer above. Elemental will be out only in theaters on Friday, June 16.
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.