Disney has decided to go digital for one of its most anticipated films of the year.
The studio announced that Soul, the latest film from animation house Pixar, will be skipping its theatrical release in favor of streaming on Disney+. The film will make its debut exclusively on the streaming service on Christmas day.
Soul is the latest in a long-line of movies choosing to release digitally amid the coronavirus pandemic that has put the movie theater industry in dire straits financially.
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European cinema operators have criticized Disney’s decision to release the film digitally. They say the decision has deprived many audiences across the continent of watching the movie.
A statement the International Union of Cinemas told Deadline, which represents European cinema operators said: “The vast majority of cinemas across Europe and indeed many regions of the world are now open and able to offer a safe and enjoyable return for audiences. Cinema operators have invested massively in offering the safest possible experience to their audiences on the basis of a promising schedule of new film releases.”
Disney also released Mulan, one of the studio’s biggest films of 2020, on Disney+. The action film, which is a live action retelling of the 1998 animated movie, was offered on the service via Premier Access which means it cost subscribers an extra $29.99 to watch.
However, Soul would be offered without an additional charge. Disney CEO Bob Chapek remains optimistic about the release regardless.
“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,” Chapek said in a statement.
Disney’s Soul has been praised for its diverse cast, which includes Jamie Foxx, Daveed Diggs, Alice Braga, Angela Bassett and Phylicia Rashad.