Why is every Pixar movie sent directly to Disney+?

As the world slowly but surely returns to some form of normalcy, cinematic releases are following suit.

Spider-Man: No Way Home brought people back to the cinema in droves, and it seemed like the days of early streaming releases were over, especially for entertainment giant Disney.

But, alas, this is not the case for a specific part of the Disney empire. Pixar’s next film, Turning Red, has been confirmed to get a Disney+ streaming release on March 11, 2022, with no plans for the film to hit theaters.

This is partly understandable given the global increase in cases of the Omicron variant. However, Disney didn’t even offer a dual movie and streaming release like it did for Black Widow. Instead, the film will only be available on the streaming service. Timing seems even less of a factor when you consider that Turning Red isn’t the first Pixar movie to skip theaters — the studio’s last two features, Soul and Luca, suffered the same fate.

The decision came as a shock to many Pixar employees, according to Insider. An anonymous staff member said, “We all thought ‘Turning Red’ would be our return to the big screen, and everyone at the studio was so excited that it was that particular movie. It was quite a blow.”

It’s even more striking when you consider that Disney gave theatrical releases to Encanto and Raya and the Last Dragon – both of which were created by Walt Disney Animation Studios, another in-house studio separate from Pixar. This begs the question: why does Disney treat Pixar films any differently than its other animated productions?


2021 has been a successful year for Disney+. The platform regularly hosted near-back-to-back Marvel shows, brought back a second season of The Mandalorian, and offered movies that weren’t otherwise accessible to people who couldn’t make it to the theaters.

But 2022 might be more of an uphill battle for Disney+. The next Marvel series won’t debut until March, and with lukewarm reception for The Book of Boba Fett and rising prices for other platforms looming on the horizon, Disney is no doubt looking for ways to entice subscribers to stay.

In a quote to Variety, Jeff Bock, media analyst at Exhibitor Relations, believes Pixar movies help keep subscribers from filming, saying, “The fact that they’ve done it with three movies in a row makes me wonder. believe it really helps.”

The same article also points out that it’s significantly more expensive for Disney to push a movie into theaters than it is to put it on the streaming service, with the studio’s average film costing around $100 million to promote.

With marketing costs so high, it’s vital that theatrical releases make their money. But, as The Washington Post points out, families with young children are less likely to go to the movies during the pandemic than adults.

Encanto only managed to pocket $200 million worldwide in theaters and then went to Disney+ after just a month. To give some perspective, previous Walt Disney Animation Studios films such as Moana and Coco managed between $500 million and $800 million before the pandemic.


Forbes notes that by sending these films to Disney+ early and making them available ‘for free’ (rather than Premier Access), the average watch time of these films increased, which could help generate and retain more viewership. subscriptions. This additional commitment to the streaming service may be worth more to Disney than the relatively meager box office returns its animated features are currently recouping.

In that case, it might not just be Pixar’s problem – Walt Disney Animation Studios’ next film, Strange World, might not make it to theaters either, especially if Turning Red succeeds on Disney+.

The icing on the cake is that Nielsen reports that Luca was the most streamed movie in the US last year – though it’s worth noting that this survey didn’t include HBO Max titles. Either way, the film still managed to beat out some stiff competition, proving there’s plenty of appetite for Pixar to stream.


Soul received similarly positive reception, with a source telling Insider, “Disney was ecstatic about the numbers,” when the film was initially released on Disney+. This release was largely out of necessity at the time, as many countries were in total lockdown and therefore cinemas were closed.

Pixar films also have the advantage of being evergreen films. It’s a safe and comfortable watch for a night curled up on the couch. They don’t need a giant IMAX screen or a revolutionary sound system to be enjoyed – they’re family fun movies for rainy days.

Plus, with the exception of the occasional sequel, they don’t require any prior knowledge of other movies to enjoy. That’s something that can’t be said for new releases from the MCU and Star Wars, two of Disney+’s other key properties.

With classics like Toy Story, Monsters Inc. and Up, it’s no wonder Pixar continues to attract the streaming service.

Streaming releases for movies have become rarer in 2022. With HBO Max now forgoing its new movie releases, Disney is one of the few services that still offers the ability to watch new movies from the comfort of home. , and this is something that can entice viewers to stay subscribed.

light year

So what does this mean for Pixar’s future on Disney+? It depends on three things: Turning Red’s reception, the subscriber trend on the platform, and the state of theaters during COVID.

The next Pixar film on the books is Lightyear, a spin-off from the wildly popular Toy Story franchise. Currently, the release is scheduled for June 17, 2022, but the release strategy has yet to be revealed.

With Chris Evans in the lead role and an action-packed plot, this Pixar movie would lend itself to a run at the movies. However, if Disney+ finds further streaming success with Turning Red, the argument for not making this film exclusive to the platform will be a tough sell.

What I’m watching this week

Queer Eye is back for a sixth season, and if you need heartwarming TV and a good shoutout, then The Fabulous Five has you covered. Karamo, Tan, Bobby, Antoni and Jonathan travel to Austin, Texas to transform other people’s lives.

Interestingly, this season got caught up in the whirlwind of the pandemic – but the show managed to go on, even with one of the guests caught in the middle.

You can watch Queer Eye season six on Netflix – subscriptions start from £5.99/$9.99 per month.

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