Pixar’s animated film Soul will dodge a theatrical release and head straight to the Disney+ streaming service, the entertainment giant has said, in the latest blow to the beleaguered cinema industry.
The movie will arrive exclusively on Disney+ on Christmas Day, the company said, though it will be released theatrically in international markets where the service is yet to launch.
Those dates will be announced soon, Disney said. Soul – which features the voice talents of Jamie Foxx, Angela Bassett and Tina Fey – was supposed to arrive in cinemas in November.
It is the latest major Hollywood release to either go straight to digital platforms or delay its arrival into 2021 amid the ongoing uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
James Bond film No Time To Die shifted from November this year to next April, while sci-fi epic Dune was moved from this December to October 2021.
The dearth of new releases led to Cineworld cinemas to announce this week it was temporarily closing its sites in the UK and US. Rival chain Regal has also temporarily closed its doors, while other companies have shared their concerns.
Announcing Soul’s shift to its streaming platform, Disney said the pandemic had created “difficult” market conditions over the last six months, but had “provided an opportunity for innovation in approaches to content distribution”.
Disney+ already has more than 60 million subscribers around the world since launching in the US in November last year.
Disney had previously made its blockbuster Mulan remake available on the premium tier of Disney+.
Bob Chapek, The Walt Disney Company’s chief executive officer, said: “We are thrilled to share Pixar’s spectacular and moving Soul with audiences direct to Disney+ in December.
“A new original Pixar film is always a special occasion, and this truly heart-warming 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, directed by Pete Docter, follows a school music teacher – voiced by Foxx – who dreams of being a jazz performer. Before his chance of a lifetime, an accident causes his soul to be separated from his body.