Thanksgiving Week just got a lot more grim at the box office as Disney on Thursday moved its bit Pixar movie Soul to Disney+, where it will now be released on December 25. It had been set for a November 20 release in domestic theaters. Disney will not charge its streaming subscribers an extra $29.99 to see Soul, rather the movie will simply become available on the service to its 60 million subscribers, just like the studio did with Artemis Fowl and Hamilton over the summer.
The Soul release date move was expected following the departure of MGM’s No Time to Die from that same November day. However, Disney wasn’t certain that it was moving the film to Disney+. This now leaves Universal and Dreamworks Animation’s Croods: A New Age as the sole Thanksgiving theatrical wide entry on Nov. 25. That animated feature is expected to have a short theatrical window, heading into PVOD by Christmas.
The move is similar to what Disney did with Mulan, which had been set for a global release in March before the coronavirus pandemic lockdown forced it to delay its theatrical release several times. It finally was released on Disney+ on September 4 in the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia and the major European markets where the streamer is available at the price of $29.99. Disney never released any rental or gross figures regarding Mulan‘s success on Disney+; the assumption by rivals in the industry was that it wasn’t that great given the fact that the movie’s actual free December drop date was announced during the Niki Caro-directed pic’s first weekend. Nielsen reported that Mulan made its top ten streaming list for the week of Aug. 31-Sept. 6 in the No. 10 spot with 525 million minutes viewed. By comparison, Netflix’s Cobra Kai was No. 1 that week with 2.17 billion minutes viewed.
Soul will get a theatrical release in those foreign territories where Disney+ isn’t available. The streaming service is launching in Latin America next month. In those markets where Disney doesn’t have a streaming service, Mulan has made just over $67M during the pandemic.
“We are thrilled to share Pixar’s spectacular and moving Soul with audiences direct to Disney+ in December,” said Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “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 world can be an exhausting and frustrating place – but it’s also full of unexpected joys, even in seemingly mundane things,” said Pete Docter, director of Soul and Chief Creative Officer of Pixar Animation Studios. “Soul investigates what’s really important in our lives, a question we’re all asking these days. I hope it will bring some humor and fun to people at a time when everyone can surely use that.”
With the unpredictability of the box office now, especially with Regal closed stateside, and Disneyland still closed, Disney+ is the studio’s lifeblood.