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Pixar's Pandemic Movies Are Finally Coming To Theaters

The studio's chief creative officer talks about shifts in audience behavior.


Pixar's recent streaming hits, including Soul, Turning Red, and Luca, are set for a nationwide theatrical release in 2024. Variety was first to report.

This move comes after each film's exclusive premieres on Disney+ during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tickets for these screenings go on sale from January 2, with Soul hitting theaters on January 12, followed by Turning Red on February 9, and Luca on March 22. Each film will feature its corresponding short film: Burrow, Kitbull, and For the Birds.

Pixar's decision to bring these movies to theaters signals a strategic shift in their release strategy. Pixar's Chief Creative Officer, Pete Docter speaking with Variety, acknowledged streaming's influence on audience habits as a "mixed blessing" that "trained" moviegoers to favor streaming over theatrical experiences.

"It's more expensive for a family of four to go to a theater when they know they can wait and it'll come out on the platform," Docter said. "We're trying to make sure people realize there's a great deal you're missing by not seeing it on the big screen. In the case of Elemental, it's a beautiful spectacle, there's detail everywhere. I think you feel it more and it's a better experience. There's the shared experience as well… there's something about the energy that comes from other people that makes the whole experience more vibrant and interesting."

Docter's observations follow Pixar's surprise success with Elemental, which started with the lowest opening weekend in the company's history but eventually reached nearly $500 million worldwide. This development also coincides with Pixar's broader return to theaters with upcoming releases, including Inside Out 2, set to premiere on June 14, 2024.

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