Late last year, movie studios seemed set on returning to theatrical premieres for all movies for the first time since the pandemic started, but now Disney has announced a change of plans for an upcoming family flick, Pixar’s Turning Red. Instead of coming to theaters on March 11th, now it “will premiere exclusively in homes worldwide” on Disney Plus, but still on March 11th.
There’s no plan for a Premier Access video-on-demand setup like the company arranged for Mulan. Instead, it will be available to all subscribers in the same way that Pixar’s last two animated features, Soul and Luca, were (the Disney Animation production Encanto premiered in theaters for Thanksgiving, with a 30-day run that saw it arrive on Disney Plus in time for Christmas).
Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution chairman Kareem Daniel was seen announcing theatrical releases for many 2021 movies in September, but in a statement about Turning Red, he now says, “Given the delayed box office recovery, particularly for family films, flexibility remains at the core of our distribution decisions as we prioritize delivering the unparalleled content of The Walt Disney Company to audiences around the world.”
While Spider-Man: No Way Home broke box office records less than a month ago, a spike in COVID-19 cases driven by the omicron variant and lackluster performances by non-Spider-Man flicks could push certain films back to streaming premieres. Or they could be pushed into another set of extended delays, like Sony Pictures’ Morbius, which recently adjusted its release date from January 28th to April 1st.