Disney+ vs. Theatrical Release. Since Spring 2020, the decision to release theatrical-quality features from Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios on the still-young streaming service was argued to be the best option from both a health and safety and financial standpoint.
But recently, as people’s confidence builds and movies like Spider-Man: No Way Home record pre-pandemic Box Office numbers and Pixar’s Turning Red suddenly gets diverted from cinemas to streaming, there is a growing concern that the decision to go “Straight-to-Streaming” is becoming a matter of quality.
Now, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ new Chief Creative Officer (CCO), Jennifer Lee, looks to set the record straight.
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“We do not separate Disney+ or theatrical as one is better than the other,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “We give the artists the same resources, the same support, the same commitment. COVID has prepared us for unpredictability. The opportunity you get with either Disney+ or theatrical, because it’s Disney, is that your film or your series can reach the world.”
For Lee, her decision to favor a streaming or theatrical release is still being affected by the enduring restrictions, protocols, and overall concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The Frozen writer and director seems to claim it to be a reactionary matter of business and accessibility and not a matter of the film’s quality.
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“It’s wonderful that families are coming back [to theaters], and it meant a lot that we could be in the theater, but we just don’t know,” Lee said of future theatrical releases. “We can’t compare to the past. I wish I understood exactly where everything was going. Maybe in a year we can revisit and we’ll know more. But I’m still processing.”
Disney fans have several animated and live-action films set for theatrical release in 2022, including Disney/Pixar’s Lightyear, and Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Only time will tell if all currently destined for the silver screen will make it there.
Disney/Pixar’s Turning Red is due to be released on Disney+ March 11, 2022.