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Following Soul And Luca, Pixar Is Sending Yet Another Movie Straight To Disney+

Turning Red's giant red panda
(Image credit: Pixar)

It looks like a pattern is starting to settle in. Back in 2020, Disney decided to scrap the traditional theatrical release for Pixar’s Soul and instead drop it exclusively on Disney+ free of charge (as opposed to including it in the Premier Access tier). The studio then decided to repeat this release plan with last summer’s Luca, and now we can add a third Pixar movie to the lineup, as Turning Red is heading straight to the Mouse House’s streaming service.

Until today, the plan was for Turning Red to hit theaters on Friday, March 11, but instead, the latest Pixar movie will debut exclusively in homes worldwide on Disney+ that same day. International markets where Disney+ is not available will still screen the animated feature in theaters at yet-to-be-revealed dates. The official announcement about Turning Red’s changed release plan was accompanied by the below video.

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In its official statement, Disney attributed moving Turning Red to Disney+ due to both how successful Soul and Luca were on the platform, as well movie theaters continuing to struggle during these trying times (unless Spider-Man is involved). Here’s what Kareem Daniel, the Chairman of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, had to say:

Disney+ subscribers around the world enthusiastically embraced Pixar’s Academy Award-winning Soul and the critically-acclaimed Luca when they premiered exclusively on the service and we look forward to bringing them Pixar’s next incredible feature film Turning Red. 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.

This means that the last Pixar movie to have a normal theatrical release was Onward in March 2020. Even then, the Chris Pratt and Tom Holland-led movie only spent a few weeks on the big screen until the pandemic started shutting down movie theaters, resulting in it being put on Disney+ by early April. So really, Pixar-wise, it was Toy Story 4 back in summer 2019 that had the last solid big screen run.

With Turning Red now joining Soul and Luca as Disney+ exclusive releases, I’m curious if this will become the norm with Pixar movies. That may be truly clarified with Lightyear, which is slated to arrive this June. While those other three movies told original stories, Lightyear is delivering the origin story for the character that inspired one of the Toy Story franchise’s main protagonists. So because Lightyear is part of an already-established and incredibly popular property, if something prevents it from hitting theaters this summer as planned, will Disney move it to Disney+ too, or will it simply be delayed so it can still play on the big screen someday? We may get that answer in the coming months.

As for Turning Red, it follows Meilin "Mei" Lee, a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl who’s struggling with adolescence and trying to live up to her mother’s expectations. Oh, and she also has the misfortune of transforming into a giant red panda when she gets too excited or stressed. Turning Red’s voice cast includes Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Wai Ching Ho and Jordan Fisher, and the 25th Pixar movie was directed by Domee Shi, who previously helmed the Pixar short Bao. Shi also co-wrote the script with Julia Cho.

There’s only a little more than two months to go until Turning Red arrives on Disney+, but if you’re wondering about what other movies are on track to premiere this year, you’d be wise to look through our 2022 release schedule

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.