Pixar's new film Soul has had a somewhat unusual path to the public, as the movie was originally planned for a theatrical release, but domestically ended up getting shifted over to Disney+. That hasn't stopped the accolades from coming in. Many are calling it one of Pixar's best films. Of course, when we look back at box office receipts in the future, Soul will find itself significantly lacking. At least, that will be the case domestically. In China, the film is doing remarkably well and is on the verge of being the second highest grossing Pixar film ever in the nation, taking over the spot currently held by Incredibles 2.
The thing about China is that, for reasons that are not entirely clear, Pixar films don't do as well in the middle kingdom as your average western blockbuster tends to do. Disney often banks on Chinese box office when it comes to financial success for theatrical releases, but with Pixar it rarely happens. The only exception to date has been Coco, which is currently the top grossing Pixar film in the nation, which brought in just short of $190 million. By comparison, the current number two is Incredibles 2, which stands at $51 million.
According to DisInsider, Soul opened in China at $5.5 million, which is about twice what the previous Pixar film, Onward did. It now sits at about $25.7 million following positive word of mouth, which puts estimates for the film's total Chinese take at around $60 million. a solid showing for a Pixar movie in China, and in fact the second best in studio history.
If anything, it's a bittersweet record considering the fact that, while China is certainly a major box office location, if the movie is doing better than average there, the movie likely would have done really well at the domestic box office as well. Considering the popular buzz surrounding Soul, it seems that this would have been a major hit, and while many people may have subscribed to Disney+ in order to watch Soul, it's probably not in the same numbers that people would have gone to the theater, were that a safe option at this time.
Still, at this point basically every studio is likely happy with whatever success they are seeing in theaters. In some countries theaters are largely open and even in the U.S. we're seeing simultaneous releases in theaters and on streaming services as a way to grab as much of the potential audience as possible, one way or the other. Hopefully, with a vaccine on the way theatrical releases will start to become the norm again across the world
Soul will, unfortunately be one of those movies with a asterisk by its box office numbers, along with so many other films. In the end, the critical acclaim will likely be enough for the filmmakers.