Citing the uncertainty of the omicron variant, Pixar’s Turning Red won’t make its debut in theaters as originally planned, but will instead premiere on Disney+.
Collider reports Disney made the announcement Friday.
“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,” chairman of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution Kareem Daniel said in a statement.
Turning Red will open on March 11, the same day it had been scheduled to open in theaters. It will be offered for free to Disney + subscribers similar to the pandemic releases of two other Pixar films, Soul and Luca.
Directed by Domee Shi who directed the Pixar short Bao, the animated Turning Red evolves around a girl who turns into a red panda when stressed. It stars child actress Rosalie Chiang as the girl Mei Lee and Sandra Oh as her mother.
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan plays one of Mei Lee’s best friends, Priya.
It also introduces Pixar’s first Sikh character, a security guard.
Other voice actors include Wai Ching Ho, Ava Morse, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Hyein Park, Tristan Allerick Chen, Addie Chandler, Jordan Fisher, James Hong, Lori Tan Chinn, Lillian Lim, Mia Tagano, Sherry Cola, Sasha Roiz, and Lily Sanfelippo.
The decision to go straight to Disney + also follows the opening in theaters of another Disney animated film, Encanto. It’s the highest-grossing animated film of the year, earning $207 million globally since its Thanksgiving weekend opening. That, however, pales to the $477 million earned by Frozen II in the US in 2019 and the $434 million made by Toy Story 4, according to Business Insider.
Friday’s announcement is a disappointment to the folks at Pixar who were anticipating their first theatrical release since the pandemic, reports Screenrant. Pixar employees have said not releasing in theaters or even through Disney + premier access sends a message that Pixar is not valued in the company. Yet Pixar is one of Disney’s biggest brands.
The Disney films Mulan, Jungle Cruise, and Black Widow have all been released via Premier Access which charges an additional fee of $30 to subscribers.
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