This past Friday, Disney announced that the upcoming Pixar animated movie, “Turning Red”, will be coming to Disney+ on Friday 11th March 2022.
In the statement from Disney’s Media & Entertainment Distribution chairman Kareem Daniel, explained why the move was happening:
“Disney+ subscribers around the world enthusiastically embraced Pixar’s Academy Award-winning ‘Soul’ and the critically-acclaimed “Luca” when they premiered exclusively on the service and we look forward to bringing them Pixar’s next incredible feature film ‘Turning Red’. Given the delayed box office recovery, particularly for family films, flexibility remains at the core of our distribution decisions as we prioritize delivering the unparalleled content of The Walt Disney Company to audiences around the world.”
With the pandemic still causing significant problems worldwide, with cinemas closed in many countries or having local restrictions. Confidence in going to cinemas isn’t where the studios expected it to be. After the massive success of “Spider-Man: No Way Home”, even Sony got cold feet with its next Marvel film, moving “Morbius” back a few months until April, with many other studios delaying films.
Unlike many other studios, Disney hasn’t publicly committed to a 45-day theatrical release window for the rest of 2022. Instead, they are making decisions about releases on a case by case basis. While we all had hoped the pandemic would be behind us, it’s still causing problems.
Disney had several options with the release of “Turning Red”, including just sticking to the original plan would probably have caused the film to massively underperform at the box office, as fewer people would have seen it, which would have resulted in it being branded a failure.
Premier Access has proven to be a major problem for piracy, since a 4K version of the film is available within hours of its release, and this hits both Disney+ subscriptions and box office numbers.
Delaying the film would have caused more problems with scheduling, as so many movies are being released in 2022, due to all the previous delays from not just Disney, but other studios, along with Disney’s animated films being impacted much less than live-action films, since work can still be done from home.
The other big issue is that Disney+ needs original content, since all of the production studios aren’t fully fired up making content for Disney+ yet, due to all the delays from the pandemic taking its toll on Disney’s scheduling.
This will mark the third Pixar film in a row that has been released directly onto Disney+—leading to an interesting reaction from many fans.
On the one hand, many Disney+ subscribers are excited that the next film will be available to them at home, without having to spend any more money, plus all the other benefits of watching from home.
But there was also a backlash with the decision, from a few different angles. Cinema fans were upset that Disney had pulled another film from theatre chains and believe that watching movies on the big screen is the best way of watching films. Or that studios are just being greedy and are trying to put cinemas out of business.
Another common comment from Pixar fans, was about how Pixar staff were reported to have been upset that all of their latest films are going straight to Disney+. While both films from Walt Disney Animation Studios, “Encanto” and “Raya And The Last Dragon”, got cinema releases, none of Pixar’s recent films have done.
This might have an impact on those who helped create those films and feel that Pixar is playing second fiddle to Disney’s other animated studio. But with “Turning Red” heading to directly to Disney+, their work will be seen by a much larger audience.
One of the things that the pandemic has shown us is that film releases are changing. Theatrical releases aren’t the same as they used to be. Older cinema-goers aren’t returning to pre-pandemic levels. Families aren’t going to cinemas in the same way. Plus there are lots of other issues, such as cinema ticket prices, parking, other people disrupting films through talking or using their phones, food prices etc. etc.
Over the years, people have been going to the cinema much less. People are watching more movies at home. With many of us having huge TV’s with sound systems at home, it’s just not the same as it used to be.
While many in Hollywood often view success in terms of box office numbers, that’s not the only way of measuring success.
The last two Pixar releases, “Soul” and “Luca”, have been massive successes for Disney+. They’ve been some of the most-watched films of the last year, across all streaming services. Millions of fans around the world have watched these films, with some kids watching them over and over again.
That doesn’t consider merchandise sales and the long-term impact these films have had on people, which Disney can take advantage of in its theme parks, cruise ships, and sequels.
Plus how many more people will either subscribe to Disney+ in March to watch the film and more importantly, how many people won’t cancel their subscription, because they want to watch “Turning Red”. This is why Disney+ needs a steady flow of content, to keep subscribers engaged and retained.
“Encanto” was released in cinemas for Thanksgiving, pulling in around $200 million at the box office over its 4-week run. But once the film hit Disney+ on Christmas Eve, the film went on to reach an even bigger audience, and the social buzz around the film has gone through the roof.
In an ideal world, “Turning Red” would have been released like “Encanto”, with a short theatrical exclusive run, which would have pleased almost everyone. But the shift to becoming a Disney+ exclusive doesn’t mean that it’s a “straight to video” movie. That’s an old and out of date way of looking at streaming services.
While Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm have transitioned into making different content for Disney+, which go alongside their film projects, Pixar hasn’t been able to do that in the same way. But “Luca”, “Soul”, and even “Onward” have been massive successes for Disney+, and that shouldn’t be underestimated.
Pixar is a major core brand of Disney+. Its content is valued by not just the Walt Disney Company, but more importantly, by fans around the world. When millions of people are sitting around their TV’s on March 11th to watch “Turning Red”, I doubt many will be thinking about how they are watching the film and instead, are just enjoying the latest Pixar film, with smiles on their faces and having a great time, without having to worry about the pandemic! Which is all that matters!
What do you think?
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.