Another Disney film slated for a theatrical release is instead switching to the company’s streaming service, Disney +.
Soul, a jazz animated film by Pixar with the voices of Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, will premiere directly on the streaming service on December 25, the streamer said Thursday night. The film was originally slated to hit theaters on Nov. 20, but has been postponed as theaters have largely remained closed due to both the pandemic and the studios’ decision to either delay or cancel theatrical releases altogether as consumers are largely stayed away from going to the cinema during Covid-19.
“We are very excited to be sharing Pixar’s spectacular and moving soul directly with Disney + in December,” said Bob Chapek, Disney CEO, in a statement. “A new original Pixar movie is always a special occasion, and this truly heartwarming and humorous story of connecting people and finding a place in the world will be a pleasure for families to enjoy this holiday season together.”
The film will also premiere in some markets around the world where Disney + is not yet available.
Unlike the live-action remake of Mulan, which Disney made available to existing Disney + subscribers for rent for $ 29.99 as part of a special Premier Access tier in September, Soul will not carry an additional premium price. The company has not publicly commented on the success of its premium video pandemic experiment, but its Soul Move seems to suggest that the Premier Access offering is not interested in replicating.
While Mulan was watched for 525 million minutes in the first three days on Disney +, Nielsen estimates that Disney has not released any further information about Mulan’s success on the streaming service, so many have suggested that it was nowhere near as lucrative as the company hoped. (The company is expected to share more with investors during its quarterly earnings call on November 12th.)
The release of Soul will serve to bolster Disney + ‘s library during the holiday season as many subscribers seek to renew their annual subscriptions to the service launched in November 2019. The company already has its most successful original series, The Mandalorian, for a release in late October, which means there will be new episodes on the service weekly through early December. The new Marvel original WandaVision is also slated to go into service in December.
Soul is the fourth planned theatrical release that Disney + switched directly to its burgeoning streaming service, which topped 60.5 million subscribers worldwide this summer. In addition to Mulan, Disney switched its live-action Artemis Fowl, slated for a theatrical debut on May 29, straight to the streamer in June. After that, the animated film The One and Only Ivan, slated to hit theaters on August 14, landed directly on Disney + on August 21.
Disney also chose to bring Hamilton’s original filmed Broadway production directly to Disney + on July 3, more than a year before its scheduled 2021 theatrical release.
The company has also accelerated the Disney + debuts of several films to bolster the streamer’s library amid the pandemic. Frozen II landed on the streamer three months ahead of schedule in the early days of the pandemic, and Onward, which premiered in early March when the pandemic hit at full force, was moved to Disney + by April 3.
Soul, directed by Pete Docter, the director of Inside Out and Up, follows Joe Gardner (Foxx), a band teacher and middle school jazz musician, who ends up in The Great Before where he meets 22 (Fey), a soul Gardner talks about must teach attraction to be human. Featuring original jazz music by Jon Batiste, the film also features the voices of Phylicia Rashad, Ahmir Questlove Thompson, Angela Bassett and Daveed Diggs.
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