The ongoing theatrical delays of basically every movie under the sun have wreaked havoc with nearly all productions. Anything that was still actively filming when the shutdowns hit has only now been able to slowly move forward. However, there have been some bright spots when the pandemic shutdown actually helped a movie. Frequently, this has come in the realm of post-production work, where the people doing CGI work and other digital effects actually had extra time to do the work, because it could all be done on computers at home. However, Pixar's Soul, made entirely inside computers, didn't have that luxury.
Soul was originally scheduled for a summer 2020 release before being pushed off to November, and is now set for a Christmas release. However, when I had a chance to talk to the animators and filmmakers of Soul recently, they explained that they basically had no choice but to finish the movie based on the previous deadline, because the Pixar machine never stops and there were other movies that these animators needed to be working on. As Animation Supervisor Bobby Podesta put it...
We finished on time, because there's other films that we're making. So we didn't suddenly get a free six months or anything.
While Soul no longer needed to be done by June, the other projects that Pixar has in its pipeline still have release dates that need to be hit. This meant that resources couldn't be spent on Soul beyond the original deadline. If everybody spends additional time on Soul that means less manpower for all the other movies that are currently in various states of production.
As far as what those other projects are, we only actually know about one of them. Luca will tell the story of a boy on the Italian Riviera who makes a friend who turns out to be a disguised sea monster. It's still set for release in the summer of 2021, though with so many movies now pushed back in 2021, the summer movie season next year is already starting to get crowded.
I also had the chance to talk the writers, producers, and directors of Soul, and I questioned the idea that the movie was truly done back in June. Animation is a very iterative process that can frequently see changes, even significant ones, up until very late in the process. I was surprised that the extra six months weren't taken to somehow make some final tweaks to the story or to polish up some animation that could have been improved. Producer Dana Murray joked that Soul had to wrap because there was no money left. Director Pete Docter, put it more bluntly...
Everybody's gone, they're working on the next one.
Everybody is working on the next one, and actually the next several. Release dates not only for Luca, but for three other still-untitled Pixar projects are on the calendar for the years to come. Soul is set to release in theaters on Christmas Day.