Disney raised some eyebrows recently after announcing theatrical releases in 2024 for three of its Pixar films – Soul (2020), Turning Red (2022), and Luca (2021).
However, with the availability of Disney+ and the company’s recent box office struggles, one can’t help but question the point behind bringing these films to theaters.
Disney Struggles to Get People to Theaters
Disney’s bet on theatrical releases comes at a time when the company is grappling with changing viewer habits and a significant decline in box office revenue. The decision to reintroduce Soul, Turning Red, and Luca to theaters seems counterintuitive, especially when these films have been readily available on Disney+ for several years.
The entertainment landscape underwent a seismic shift during the COVID-19 pandemic, with streaming services becoming the primary mode of content consumption. Disney+, with its vast library and exclusive content, emerged as a major player. However, despite this dominance, Disney’s recent box office performance raises doubts about the efficacy of theatrical releases.
A Changing Theatrical Landscape
Pixar‘s Elemental (2023) struggled at the box office, experiencing a lackluster opening weekend that left many questioning the once unassailable Pixar brand. While the film eventually found its footing and achieved modest success, it failed to reach the heights synonymous with Pixar’s legacy.
The tepid response to Elemental signals a broader trend – audiences may be more inclined to wait for the convenience of streaming rather than venturing to theaters.
Disney’s latest venture, Wish (2023), has fared even worse. With a budget of $200 million, the film has only managed to scrape together a paltry $40 million in its first two weeks.
This dismal performance underscores a stark reality. Disney, with its iconic franchises and extensive marketing machinery, is struggling to lure audiences back to theaters.
In the face of these challenges, the decision to re-release Soul, Turning Red, and Luca in theaters raises eyebrows. Are these theatrical releases relevant when the company can’t generate substantial box office revenue for its new content?
The films in question have already had successful runs on Disney+. Reintroducing them to theaters seems unnecessary, especially with a limited and niche audience who will take advantage of it.
Disney’s attempt to reignite interest in theaters by offering exclusive releases may not be the magic wand the company hopes for. Audiences have become picky about what they are willing to shell out money for at the cinema.
Pixar Films in Theaters
Nevertheless, you can purchase tickets for these films starting January 2, 2024. Soul will arrive first on January 12. Turning Red will follow on February 9, and Luca will finish the run when it releases on March 22. Each of these movies will also include their short films.
Pixar recently revealed a teaser trailer for Inside Out 2, the sequel to its hit film Inside Out (2015). The film will launch in summer 2024. Its other movie in development, Elio, was delayed because of the writer’s strike.
Placing Pixar films in theaters that have been readily available at homes for years is likely more effort than it is worth. Even beloved Pixar classics like Toy Story (1995), The Incredibles (2004), Monsters Inc. (2001), and Cars (2006) would likely be a fruitless endeavor returning to theaters nowadays.
With Disney struggling to bring people to its new releases, perhaps it should refocus its efforts instead of looking desperate to milk whatever it can out of its diehard fans.