Turning Red, Pixar’s latest feature film, will premiere exclusively on Disney+, the studio announced on Friday. It follows Soul and Luca as the third Pixar movie to skip a theatrical release. Disney had planned to debut Turning Red in theaters, but likely due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the US and much of the world, that won’t happen. What hasn’t changed is the release date: the film will still debut on March 11th as originally planned.
— Pixar (@Pixar) January 7, 2022
“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,” said Kareem Daniel, chairman of media and entertainment distribution for Disney.
The fact Turning Red won’t premiere on the silver screen is a shame because it marks the full-length directorial debut of one of Pixar’s most promising young talents, Domee Shi. She won an Academy Award in 2019 for her work on the short film Bao, which was shown alongside Incredibles 2 in theaters. Like Bao, Turning Red is set in Shi’s hometown of Toronto, Canada. It tells the story of Mei Lee (voiced by Rosalie Chiang), a teen who finds out she turns into a red panda when she gets too excited. Naturally, all sorts of hijinks ensue as a result. Did we mention the fabulous Sandra Oh is also in the movie? Yeah, it will be great.
The fact Turning Red won’t have a theatrical run is likely to significantly affect its earning potential. In turn, that could make Disney less willing to invest in diverse productions like Turning Red. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that families will at least have the opportunity to see the film from the safety of their homes.