The streaming release model is being considered for one of Disney’s new major films. Variety reports that Soul, the new Disney/Pixar animated film, is possibly going to forego a theatrical release and could be headed straight to Disney’s streaming service, Disney+.
This streaming release news is a part of some overall release schedule shuffling that Disney is considering. Along with moving Soul to Disney+, the Mouse House will also likely delay Black Widow once again. After Wonder Woman 1984 vacated its October release and moved to December, insiders are convinced Black Widow will have to make a similar move.
While that may not be the biggest surprise, Soul getting a streaming release is pretty seismic. Pixar is a prestigious studio for Disney and they always throw their support behind their features. Hearing that a Pixar film could shift straight to a Disney+ premiere only shows how much the distribution model is changing because of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Soul was being positioned as a potential awards darling for Disney/Pixar. Starring Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, the fantasy film follows a musician, Joe, who has lost his passion for music. He ends up being transported outside of his body and has to find his way back with the help of a newborn soul that is just discovering herself.
Originally scheduled to release in theaters on June 19, Soul was pulled from theaters because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on theaters shutting down. The Disney/Pixar feature was then rescheduled for a theatrical release on November 20. Now, with Disney deciding to release their tentpole film Mulan as a Premium Access offer on Disney+, it sounds like they might be considering the same fate for Soul.
The streaming release model is one that major studios are still trying to figure out, and Soul could be another canary in the coal mine for this method. If Disney saw enough of a return with their Mulan release (they won’t from the box office), they might ramp up the marketing spend for Soul in order to make folks aware that it is coming to Disney+.
But, will subscribers be willing to pay a Premium Access price for a movie like Soul? Mulan was an established property and story, and consumers like to spend money on what they think will be familiar. Could the original nature of Soul actually hurt its chances if it was a Premium Access release on Disney+? Or would Disney simply put Soul on their streaming platform without the Premium Access buy-in?
It’s all complicated and the streaming release model is one that is still being worked on. While it seems like the easiest and most convenient option for consumers, there is a bunch of behind-the-scenes dealing that has to be done for a new release film to make it to a streaming platform. Disney has an advantage with Soul since they own the film in its totality.
We’ll have to see if Disney bites the bullet and puts Soul on Disney+ before the end of the year. If it makes the best business sense for them to do so, you can bet they will get it taken care of. Too bad they aren’t considering the same thing with Black Widow.