A number of Pixar employees admitted they were disappointed to hear the company's latest film, Turning Red, will be released on Disney+ instead of in theaters this spring.
"It's safe to say that we're all feeling extremely disappointed," one Pixar staffer told Insider.com. "Until today we all thought Turning Red would be our return to the big screen, and everyone at the studio was so excited about it being this film in particular. It was quite a blow." Another staffer added, "Sucks, but I get it."
Disney announced last week that Turning Red will now premiere on Disney+ on March 11, with Chairman of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution Kareem Daniel sharing in a statement, "Disney+ subscribers around the world enthusiastically embraced Pixar's Academy Award-winning Soul and the critically-acclaimed Luca when they premiered exclusively on the service and we look forward to bringing them Pixar's next incredible feature film Turning Red."
Daniel continued, "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."
Despite Disney saying in June 2021 that no more Pixar titles would be sent directly to the streaming platform, Turning Red will mark the third Pixar film to go straight to Disney+. Like the two prior Pixar films that premiered on Disney+, Turning Red will be available to all subscribers at no additional charge, as opposed to the $29.99 Premier Access tier used for streaming premieres of Mulan, Cruella and Black Widow.
A third Pixar employee shared they are bummed the film won't be getting a true theatrical release, but understand the risk of sending the movie to theaters with the number of new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases on the rise around the world. Specifically, the staffer noted, "With Omicron infections so high, I haven't heard anyone say the decision to pivot to streaming is wrong."
Disney's decision to send Turning Red to streaming came about a week after it was revealed the streaming release of Black Widow, paired with consistent piracy of the film, cost Disney an estimated $600 million. Specifically, the film's box office reportedly dropped 68% in its second weekend of release and was pirated more than 20 million times by August 2021.
Turning Red marks the feature-length debut from Domee Shi, who helmed Pixar's 2018 Oscar-winning short Bao. The film follows a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl named Mei Lee who turns into a giant red panda whenever she's too excited or stressed out.
Turning Red arrives on Disney+ March 11.
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