Another movie release bites the dust.
“Soul,” the latest film from animation studio Pixar, is skipping theaters for Disney+, Disney announced on Thursday. The film, which includes the voice work of Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, will make its debut exclusively on the streaming service this Christmas.
The film is just the latest title to skip theaters – and the announcement couldn’t come at a worse time for the movie theater industry.
Theater chains, big and small, are struggling to bring in audiences while some like Regal have closed their doors entirely. And without “Soul” on the schedule, theaters are left without much to offer for the rest of the year. Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman 1984” is still set to hit theaters on Christmas, but there’s no guarantee that will actually happen.
“Soul” is also the latest film to skip theaters for a digital release.
Disney (DIS) announced in August that “Mulan,” one of the studio’s biggest films of 2020, would skip theaters for Disney (DIS)+. The film, which is a live action retelling of the 1998 animated film, was offered on the service via Premier Access which means it cost subscribers an extra $29.99 to watch it.
“Soul,” on the other hand, will be offered to all subscribers without the extra charge.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek said on Thursday that the company was thrilled to share “Soul” with audiences on Disney+.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Disney also noted that “Soul” will be released in theaters, but only in “markets where Disney+ isn’t currently or soon to be available.”
2020 has been an awful year for Disney. The company has been fighting battles on multiple fronts as coronavirus has hobbled its media empire. The outbreak has closed parks which led to massive layoffs and has also halted productions and delayed films.
However, Disney+ has thrived. The service, which is not even a year old yet, has racked up more than 60 million subscribers.
The service’s success has made it a focal point for activist investor Dan Loeb, who said this week that Disney should permanently suspend its $3 billion in annual dividend payments and invest that money back into Disney+.