Pixar’s ‘Soul’ to Skip US Theaters for Christmas Day Disney+ Debut

Expected Oscar contender will get theatrical release internationally where Disney+ isn’t available

Soul Disney Pixar
Disney Pixar

Disney is rerouting Pixar’s “Soul” to Disney+, where it will debut exclusively on the platform on Christmas Day. Unlike “Mulan,” “Soul” will be free of charge to all Disney+ subscribers.

In international markets where Disney+ isn’t currently or soon to be available, “Soul” will be released theatrically, with dates to be announced. “Soul” had been initially scheduled for a Nov. 20 release date.

“We are thrilled to share Pixar’s spectacular and moving ‘Soul’ with audiences direct to Disney+ in December,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek said. “A new original Pixar film is always a special occasion, and this truly heartwarming and humorous story about human connection and finding one’s place in the world will be a treat for families to enjoy together this holiday season.”

“Soul” is directed by Pete Docter and is written and co-directed by Kemp Powers along with producer Dana Murray. It’s the story of Joe Gardner, a middle school band teacher who gets his chance to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before — a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to Earth.

It stars Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Phylicia Rashad, Ahmir Questlove Thompson, Angela Bassett and Daveed Diggs.

“Soul” is the latest film that Disney has moved out of theaters for 2020 and follows other films like “The One and Only Ivan,” “Artemis Fowl,” “Hamilton” and “Mulan” to take up residence on Disney+. “Mulan,” which Disney was planning as one of its next tentpole films, cost $29.99 extra (Disney called this “Premiere Access”) for subscribers; the film becomes available for Disney+ subscribers in December.

Disney had left “Soul” in its November release slot when it moved more than a dozen other titles on its release slate, including the Marvel film “Black Widow,” into 2021 and beyond. The studio attempted some marketing for the film through ABC’s broadcast of the NBA Finals, but Cineworld’s decision to indefinitely close its 538 multiplexes — the second-largest U.S. chain — made the decision to move “Soul” inevitable.

Disney has moved its entire Marvel Studios slate out of 2020, including “Black Widow,” which is now dated to come out one year later than it was originally expected. The lone Marvel Studios produced property that will debut in 2020 will be the Disney+ original series, “WandaVision.”

The move of “Soul” continues the pain for theaters, which attempted to reopen in late August but have seen box office returns remain very low due to a combination of a lack of major film releases and a general lack of customer confidence in COVID-19 safety that has affected the economy as a whole. After “Mulan” was pulled from theatrical release by Disney, Warner Bros.’ “Tenet” remained as the sole major release, grossing just $45 million domestically as September’s overall revenue dropped 90% year-over-year.

Along with Warner Bros.’ decision to push “Dune” to late 2021, it is becoming more likely that studios are abandoning 2020 entirely.


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