(RTTNews) – Disney and Pixar’s animated family film ‘Soul’, which was due to be released in November, is skipping theaters and heading for an exclusive Christmas premiere on streaming service Disney+.

In the countries where Disney Plus is not available, Soul will be released theatrically, but a date is yet to be announced.

In a tweet, Walt Disney Studios said “Disney and Pixar’s Soul will be streaming exclusively on Disney+ on December 25th.”

The movie will now be available to Disney Plus’ around 60.5 million subscribers. The streaming service costs $6.99 per month.

The decision on Disney’s much awaited film after Mulan comes as theaters are struggling to remain open amid new restrictions following increase in COVID-19 numbers in many areas. Soul was initially heading for a June release, but was rescheduled for November 20 in U.S. theaters due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, it is expected that Soul will not cost like Mulan, which was released on Disney Plus for an extra $30 for “premier access” video on-demand or VOD release.

In a statement, Disney said, “Over the last six months, marketplace conditions created by the ongoing pandemic, while difficult in so many ways, have also provided an opportunity for innovation in approaches to content distribution.”

Earlier this week, movie theater operator Cineworld announced its plans to temporarily suspend operations at all of its 536 Regal theatres in the US and Cineworld and Picturehouse theatres in the UK from October 8. The company then noted that studios have been reluctant to release their pipeline of new films, and without these, it cannot provide strong commercial films necessary for customers to consider coming back to theatres amid Covid-19.

Meanwhile, AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc., the biggest operator of cinemas in the U.S., recently said it expects 520 of its roughly 600 theaters

Tina Fey and Jamie Foxx voice characters in Disney Pixar’s “Soul.”

Disney

Disney’s “Soul” will no longer debut in theaters. The new Pixar animated feature will instead arrive on the company’s streaming service Disney+ on December 25.

“We are thrilled to share Pixar’s spectacular and moving ‘Soul’ with audiences direct to Disney+ in December,” said Bob Chapek, CEO of The Walt Disney Company. “A new original Pixar film is always a special occasion, and this truly heartwarming and humorous story about human connection and finding one’s place in the world will be a treat for families to enjoy together this holiday season.”  

The move comes as Cineworld, which owns Regal Cinemas, has closed more than 500 theaters in the U.S. . That loss has forced Disney and other studios to rethink their distribution strategies.

Unlike Disney’s “Mulan,” which skipped theaters to go to Disney+ in September, it appears that “Soul” will be free as part of the traditional streaming on-demand service.

The movement of “Soul” from the calendar is yet another blow to movie theaters. Major cinemas have struggled since reopening in August as attendance has been low and a number of Hollywood blockbusters have postponed into next year.

The delay of “Wonder Woman 1984,” “Black Widow,” “No Time to Die” and more have left a gaping hole in the theatrical calendar. And there are fears that even more films could be pushed in the coming weeks.

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