The Pixar film ‘Soul’ will skip cinemas and instead premiere on Disney+ on Christmas, sending one of the year’s last big movies straight to streaming.
The move, widely expected after the recent exodus of most major upcoming releases, marks one of the final dominos to fall in Hollywood’s disastrous cinema schedule.
Expectation had been high for ‘Soul,’ directed by Pete Docter, the filmmaker behind the critically-acclaimed ‘Up’ and ‘Inside Out.’ The film, about a middle school teacher with dreams of becoming a jazz musician, was originally to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Its theatrical release had been scheduled for November 20.
Following the exit of the James Bond film ‘No Time to Die’ from November, the next big movie on the calendar is Warner Bros’ ‘Wonder Woman 1984,’ currently set for release on Christmas Day.
On Thursday, the trade group of exhibitors, the National Association of Theatre Owners, said its #SaveYourCinema campaign has flooded US Congress with more than 300,000 letters. Filmmakers including Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and ‘Wonder Woman’ director Patty Jenkins have joined the campaign lobbying Congress to bring financial relief to theater owners.
Without aid, the organization said 69% of small and mid-sized movie theater companies will close or go bankrupt.
“The stark reality is that many movie theaters will not be able to open again if they don’t receive government help,” says Esther Baruh, director of government relations for the association. “This is as urgent as it gets.”
Earlier this week, Cinemark said it would again shutter the US and UK locations of its Regal cinemas, the country’s second-largest theater chain.
Disney has been hit hard by the pandemic. Last month, it moved ‘Mulan’- one of the year’s highly anticipated releases- to its streaming service of 60 million-plus subscribers but charged $30 for early access.
It recently announced that it would lay off 28,000 workers, most of them at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.