Disney’s Decision to Take Soul Straight to Streaming Gets Blasted by European Cinemas

Pixar and its parent company Disney have the brand recognition to provide the kind of content for cinema halls that can bring in large numbers of audiences. Their recent decision to have their latest movie Soul bypassing a theatrical release all together in favor of going straight to streaming on Disney+ was yet another piece of bad news for a theater industry on the brink of collapse. The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC) issued a statement condemning the Mouse Empire’s decision:

“The vast majority of cinemas across Europe and indeed many regions of the world are now open and able to offer a safe and enjoyable return for audiences. Cinema operators have invested massively in offering the safest possible experience to their audiences on the basis of a promising schedule of new film releases. Yet again, however, they find a distributor delivering another blow. The decision on ‘Soul’ is doubly frustrating for operators who were counting on the release after the film was previewed at a number of key European film festivals.”

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Before its planned theatrical release, Soul had its premiere at some major international film festivals, where the movie was greeted with overwhelmingly positive reviews. According to UNIC, Disney’s subsequent decision to take the streaming route for the movie is bad news not just for cinemas, but the audience and artists as well:

“Decisions to postpone titles, to bypass cinemas and the value they create are extremely disappointing – and concerning – and will only delay the day that the whole industry is able to put this crisis behind it. It is not only cinemas and audiences who are missing out – this situation must surely also be deeply frustrating for the creators and talents who want to see their films on the big screen.”

Now a Disney+ original, Soul tells the story of a high school music teacher Joe Gardner, whose dream of playing in the city’s best jazz club is shattered when he unexpectedly meets his demise. Stuck in a plane of existence where human souls are assigned their personalities before being born, Joe must find a way back to Earth by teaming up with a newborn soul that does not want to live. In the process, Joe comes to appreciate the true value of life with all its hopes and disappointments.

The Disney movie has the kind of entertainment value and positivity, not to mention Pixar’s world-class animation, that would have made it a treat to watch on the big screen. UNIC warned that the continued trend of major films taking the VOD route means many theater chains will be permanently closed before the current global emergency is over.

“While cinemas will struggle to recover without new releases, so in truth too will our studio partners, whose decisions in such circumstances risk causing irreparable damage to key markets, many of whom will be less well-placed to support their films when they do decide to release them. It is no exaggeration to say that by the time some studios decide the moment is right to release their films, it may be too late for many European cinemas.”

This story was first announced at Variety.

Neeraj Chand

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