Disney just announced that Pixar’s new animated movie Soul will debut Christmas Day exclusively on Disney+ and that unlike Mulan, subscribers won’t have to pay extra to see it.
In international markets where Disney+ isn’t currently available or won’t be available before the end of the year, Soul will be released theatrically as originally intended, with releases dates to be announced soon.
Soul hails comes from Pete Docter, the Oscar-winning director behind Inside Out and Up, as well as his co-director/writer Kemp Powers, the playwright and screenwriter of Regina King‘s acclaimed drama One Night in Miami. The film features the voice talents of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Phylicia Rashad, Ahmir Questlove Thompson, Angela Bassett and Daveed Diggs.
Even cooler? Soul boasts original jazz music by globally renowned musician Jon Batiste and a score composed by Oscar winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network).
Soul introduces Joe Gardner (Foxx), a middle-school band teacher who gets the chance of a lifetime to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before — a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to Earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22 (Fey), who has never understood the appeal of the human experience. As Joe desperately tries to show 22 what’s great about living, he may just discover the answers to some of life’s most important questions, like what it is that makes you… you.
“We are thrilled to share Pixar’s spectacular and moving Soul with audiences direct to Disney+ in December,” said Disney CEO Bob Chapek. “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.”
“The world can be an exhausting and frustrating place — but it’s also full of unexpected joys, even in seemingly mundane things,” said Docter, who also serves as the chief creative officer of Pixar Animation Studios. “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.”
Soul was previously slated for theatrical release on Nov. 20 after being named an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. The ongoing pandemic has had a terrible effect on the box office, with many Regal Cinemas closing up shop by the end of the day, so it makes perfect sense that Disney would release a new Pixar movie on its streaming service in an effort to lure new subscribers.
Earlier this week, activist investor Daniel Loeb urged Disney to release more content on Disney+, fearing that if the studio continues to hold top titles (such as Marvel’s Black Widow) while waiting for the theatrical business to return to normal, it will never catch up to rival streamer Netflix. While some may read this move as a sign that Mulan didn’t perform well behind a $30 dollar paywall, I think that would be the wrong takeaway. Soul is a totally different movie aimed at a much younger audience, and I’m not surprised Disney isn’t asking families to shell out another $30 bucks on Christmas morning when most people’s finances are already tight due to the pandemic.
I can absolutely see Disney putting more movies behind such a paywall, but Soul seems like a holiday gift to its Disney+ subscribers, and I imagine there will be millions more of them by the time the ball drops on this miserable year and ushers in 2021. As for whether Black Widow is destined to debut on Disney+, well, you’ll have to click here.