Disney+ Pixar's Soul (2020)

Jake Lipson

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Soul to move to spring or summer.
I hope so. Currently, Disney has June 18, 2021 reserved for an Untitled Pixar title. I'm sure that they know internally what it is and could probably meet that date if they wanted to do so. But, since they haven't formally announced what that film is yet, it would be really. easy to move Soul into that spot and just push every subsequent Pixar release back one slot. It's not like we would even really be aware of what is being delayed because as of right now they're just placeholders on dates.

Additionally, there's the box office failure of Onward to consider. Although the film itself is not at fault, the fact is that it lost lots of money for Disney because it has the misfortune of being the final big tentpole release before the virus shut everything down. I love that movie and I think it would have made more than it did if its theatrical run had been able to safely continue. But regardless of the reason, it became, by default, the lowest-grossing Pixar film ever by a wide margin because it was only able to play for two weeks before the closures started. Its second weekend was when people really started to think that going to a movie wasn't safe, so even that wasn't necessarily at the full strength that it would have been in a normal second weekend.

Pixar is, of course, a hugely important brand to Disney. So, if it were me, I would treat their next release very carefully, because they don't want to have two underperforming titles in a row from that studio. Personally, I would hold Soul until next June as I suggested above, in the hopes that there will be a vaccine by then and its attendance can be normal. But Disney isn't asking me what I think.

Disney also currently has March 12, 2021 reserved for Raya and the Last Dragon from Walt Disney Animation Studios. If they want to put out Soul sooner than June, it's also possible that Soul could slide into that spot and Raya could go later, but I would stick to the established pattern that audiences are clearly used to of having a Pixar film in June.

Wanting it to be delayed is also just a personal preference thing. I have never missed a single Pixar film in theaters; even their occasional clunkers, I always made it out. I even managed to see Onward twice before things got crazy. if Soul were to come out in theaters before I felt it was safe to return, it would break that habit, and I don't want that to happen. I would probably go see Mulan if it came out in a safe window, but if Mulan comes out before I think going to a movie is a good idea, I would be way less bothered to miss that on a big screen than Soul. Personally.
 

TravisR

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Disney also currently has March 12, 2021 reserved for Raya and the Last Dragon from Walt Disney Animation Studios. If they want to put out Soul sooner than June, it's also possible that Soul could slide into that spot and Raya could go later, but I would stick to the established pattern that audiences are clearly used to of having a Pixar film in June.
With no theatrical releases for at least 5 months this year, Disney is going to be moving alot of their movies otherwise there will be too many movies from every studio all crammed into a much too small window. Even Marvel can't sell two movies featuring Z-list characters in a few months.
 
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Jake Lipson

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Disney is going to be moving alot of their movies otherwise there will be too many movies from every studio all crammed into a much too small window.
I agree things are very much subject to change with the schedule for both this year and next year. But I think having a Pixar film stay next June is a safe bet. They have been using that time period so routinely now that I think general audiences have come to equate June with a new Pixar release, and Disney will want to maintain that continuity for the audience. Whether that film is Soul or the currently untitled one is another question, but I think it will be one of the two. Pixar in mid-June is like Marvel in the beginning of May. Audiences know something from that brand is coming in that slot. So getting back to that next year should be one of Disney's priorities, assuming the world is in a healthier place by then.
 
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Jake Lipson

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Some of the creators of Soul had a visual panel discussion yesterday during the at-home Essence Festival:

 
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Jake Lipson

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EW has a big interview with Jamie Foxx in which he talks a little bit about Soul along with a bunch of other stuff:

In the fall, Foxx (hopefully) returns to the big screen as the star of Soul (currently slated for Nov. 20). It is the first time a Pixar lead role has been Black. “You know what was crazy? It is. You know what was crazy? I didn’t know that,” he says. Directed by Pete Docter (Up, Inside Out) and co-directed by Kemp Powers, the film follows Joe Gardner, an aspiring jazz pianist. An untimely accident finds him in The Great Before, where he helps others prepare their souls for Earth. “It talks about the value of getting a second chance,” he says. This addition to his filmography earned Foxx cred with his 11-year-old, Anelise. “She was like, ‘Dad, you finally made it. You’re in a Pixar film!’” He giggles when asked about his animated alter ego: “Oh, man! That’s kind of me, in a sense; the pot belly and the skinny legs. My daughter was like, ‘They got you.’”
More about Foxx's other work at the link: https://ew.com/movies/jamie-foxx-project-power-heroes-issue/
 

Jake Lipson

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The Academy website posted an interview with director Pete Docter:

 

Jake Lipson

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Variety is reporting that Soul could land on Disney+. Maybe.


Variety said:
The studio is also exploring various release options for Pixar’s existential cartoon "Soul." The animated kids’ film is still scheduled to release on Nov. 20, but it is unlikely to move forward with those plans. The studio is even considering releasing it on Disney Plus.

A Disney insider disputed claims that “Soul” was moving to Disney Plus.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I’m sure two things are true here:
1. No one knows anything for sure because no decision has been made.
2. All options must be on the table.
 
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Jake Lipson

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I didn't bite on Mulan because I think that movie looks terrible, but if Soul were to drop on Disney+ with the same premium pricing model, I would get that as soon as possible. Absolutely. And then I would probably also buy it on Blu-ray when that release happens, so they'd get me to double dip (sort of.)

The other thing is that Disney's animated slate is already pretty full up. They've previously announced another Pixar film, Luca, for release in June 2021. They also have the Walt Disney Animation Studios title Raya and the Last Dragon penciled in for March 2021. That title was originally intended to occupy the Thanksgiving 2020 slot before Soul had to slide there from June. Then there is another untitled Disney Animation title slated for Thanksgiving 2021. So if Soul were to be moved to another theatrical date, that entire slate would likely move around as well to accommodate that. If they want to maintain the upcoming slate as-is, putting this one on Disney+ might be easier.
 
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Josh Steinberg

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At a certain point, it’s not financially viable to have multiple $200+ million productions sitting on the shelf waiting. And creatively, it’s not ideal to have years of completed projects being bottlenecked by one or two films.

All of this is unprecedented but I can’t imagine a scenario where Disney lets the bottlenecking get so bad where fully completed films have to wait two or three years before they can be released.
 
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Jake Lipson

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I would hate to see a Pixar movie not get a theatrical release
I agree. However, it would be in good company, sort of. Onward had one, but it was only two weeks. Most people I know of found that on Disney+ anyway, so this wouldn't be the first time that the majority of audiences saw a new Pixar film there. If they did the premier access thing again, I think it would easily double whatever Mulan has done on the basis of Pixar being a stronger brand and (presumably) better reviews.
 
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Jake Lipson

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Although Disney pushed back almost all of their other big theatrical titles this morning, including Black Widow, they are still claiming that Soul will stay as a theatrical release on November 20.


We'll see about that.
 

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Although Disney pushed back almost all of their other big theatrical titles this morning, including Black Widow, they are still claiming that Soul will stay as a theatrical release on November 20.


We'll see about that.
Translation: Disney +.
 
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Jake Lipson

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The only thing I can think about this is that Disney hasn't decided what to do with Soul yet. If they knew it was moving and/or if they knew it was going to go to Disney+, there is really no reason I can think of to withhold it from the release date changes announced this morning. I do know that if it went to Disney+, they would get $30 from my family for it, which they didn't for Mulan. They couldn't take that money fast enough if it was for Soul.

I would think that protecting this film would be a priority, because Onward was a casualty of the pandemic. Only playing for two weeks before theaters closed clearly impacted its ability to be profitable. Its worldwide gross of $129 million obviously puts it at a total loss. The $15 million it is estimated to have earned In video sales aren't enough to make up for that either.


Disney does not want to be seen as having two major losses in a row from Pixar, so I would be very careful what I do here if I were them.
 

Jake Lipson

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This tweet from the official Disney Movie Insiders account mentions the short film that will be playing with Soul "in theaters before Soul on November 20."


Now, on the one hand it is good to know that a Pixar short will accompany this film. That has not been the case for the last two releases, since Toy Story 4 didn't have anything and Onward was accompanied by a Simpsons short rather than a Pixar one. Of course, there have been new shorts for Disney+, but I have missed having them accompany the features.

But the insistence that it is staying theatrical at this point is absurd.

Also, The Art of Soul behind-the-scenes book is preordering at Amazon with a listed release date of October 20. It was going to come out earlier this year but got pushed back in order to be closer to the new release date. It would seem that if the movie gets pushed again, they would want to push the book as well as they did before, and there's not very much time for them to do that

It seems nuts to me that they are actually still promoting this as an exclusive theatrical release right now. If for some strange reason it actually comes out as currently scheduled, it will have to be the only Pixar film I've ever skipped theatrically, and that would really suck.
 
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Jake Lipson

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Well, there it is.

Soul is moving to Disney+ for a Christmas Day launch in lieu of its originally scheduled theatrical release. Incidentally, there is no mention of an extra fee as was the case with Mulan. So it seems like it's just going to be included with the normal subscription price.

I'm certainly not complaining about that at all but am pleasantly surprised. I would have paid extra for this one. I suppose they want to use it to lure new subscribers, which it probably will, rather than getting extra money from existing ones. That's a good call.


Pete Docter said:
“The world can be an exhausting and frustrating place – but it’s also full of unexpected joys, even in seemingly mundane things,” Docter said in a statement. “‘Soul’ investigates what’s really important in our lives, a question we’re all asking these days. I hope it will bring some humor and fun to people at a time when everyone can surely use that.”
Bob Chapek said:
“We are thrilled to share Pixar’s spectacular and moving ‘Soul’ with audiences direct to Disney+ in December,” said Bob Chapek, chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company. “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.”
It is a little bit sad that this will be the first Pixar film to skip theaters. But under the circumstances, I think this is the right choice. I prefer it skipping theatrical and going where I can see it rather than it going theatrical and me having to skip it.
 
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