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Disney’s Soul Will Debut on Disney+ Instead of in Movie Theaters


Another Disney movie that had been scheduled for a theatrical release is moving to the company’s streaming service, Disney+, instead.

Soul, a jazz-themed animated film from Pixar featuring the voices of Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, will premiere directly on the streaming service on Dec. 25, the streamer said Thursday evening. The film was originally planned for a Nov. 20 theatrical release, but was moved as theaters have remained mostly closed, due both to the pandemic and because of the decisions from studios to either delay theatrical releases or cancel them entirely as consumers have largely stayed away from moviegoing during Covid-19.  

“We are thrilled to share Pixar’s spectacular and moving Soul with audiences direct to Disney+ in December,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek said in a statement. “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.”

The film will also premiere theatrically in some markets around the world where Disney+ is not yet available.

Unlike the live-action remake of Mulan, which Disney made available to rent for $29.99 to existing Disney+ subscribers in September as part of a special Premier Access tier, Soul will not carry an additional premium price tag. The company hasn’t publicly commented on the success of its premium video pandemic experiment, but its Soul move seems to indicate that the Premier Access offering is not something the company is interested in replicating.

While Mulan was viewed for 525 million minutes in its first three days on Disney+, according to estimates from Nielsen, Disney has not shared more information about the success of Mulan on the streaming service, leaving many to suspect that it was not nearly as lucrative as the company hoped. (The company is expected to share more during its quarterly earnings call with investors on Nov. 12.)

The release of Soul will serve to bolster Disney+’s library around the holiday season as many subscribers look to renew their annual subscriptions to the service, which rolled out in November 2019. The company has already set its most successful original series, The Mandalorian, for a late October release, meaning it will have weekly new episodes on the service through early December. New Marvel original WandaVision is also slated to land on the service in December.

Soul is the fourth scheduled theatrical release that Disney+ has moved straight to its burgeoning streaming service, which surpassed 60.5 million subscribers globally this summer. In additional to Mulan, Disney switched its live action Artemis Fowl, which had been planned for a May 29 theatrical debut, straight to the streamer in June. After that, animated film The One and Only Ivan, planned for an Aug. 14 theatrical release, landed straight on Disney+ on Aug. 21.

Disney also opted to take the filmed original Broadway production of Hamilton straight to Disney+ on July 3, more than a year before its planned 2021 theatrical release.

The company has also sped up the Disney+ debuts of several films to bolster the streamer’s library amid the pandemic. Frozen II landed on the streamer three months earlier than planned in the earlier days of the pandemic, and Onward, which premiered in early March just as the pandemic began to hit in full force, was moved to Disney+ by April 3.

Soul, from Inside Out and Up director Pete Docter, follows Joe Gardner (Foxx), a middle school band teacher and jazz musician who ends up in The Great Before, where he meets 22 (Fey), a soul who Gardner must teach about the appeal of being human. The film, which features original jazz music from Jon Batiste, also stars the voices of Phylicia Rashad, Ahmir Questlove Thompson, Angela Bassett and Daveed Diggs.


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