Last week, Disney moved Pixar’s Soul from its November 20th domestic date to Disney +, where it will now be released on December 25th in the US and other global markets where the streaming service is available. Similar to Mulan, the decision has angered European exhibitors who are hungry for important new products.
The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), which represents the interests of trade associations and exhibitions in 38 countries in Europe and the neighboring regions, said today that the Soul counter “shocked and upset all cinema operators”.
In the statement (read in full below), UNIC writes: “Cinema operators have invested heavily to provide their audiences with the safest experience based on a promising schedule for new film releases. Once again they find a dealer who delivers another hit. “
Film review: Pixar’s ‘Soul’ evokes the high ambitions of the best studio
The organization emphasizes “compelling evidence” that when audiences returned they found the theatrical experience “both safe and enjoyable”. This is a refrain we’ve heard from the big chains like Cineworld, who felt compelled to temporarily close their UK locations last week due to a lack of new titles caused by the ongoing closings of major US markets.
UNIC continues today, “While cinemas will find it difficult to recover without new releases, so will our studio partners, whose decisions in such circumstances can cause irreparable damage to key markets, many of which are less well placed to produce their films assist if you decide to set them free. It is no exaggeration to say that it could be too late for many European cinemas when some studios decide that the moment is right for their films to be released. “
The Pete Docter-directed Soul was shown at the London Film Festival on Sunday night (read .’s review here) and will be shown at the Rome Film Festival on Thursday.
Soul will get a theatrical release in the offshore markets where Disney + is not available, particularly in Central Europe. The streaming service will launch in Latin America next month. For its part, Mulan made $ 67 million in the international markets where it was shown in theaters. About 61% of that came from China, where Pixar has a spotty record.
Here is the full statement from UNIC:
Brussels: October 12, 2020 – Following the decision of Walt Disney Studios to publish Pixar’s ‘Soul’ directly on their Disney + streaming platform, the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), which represents European cinema operators, has issued the following statement .
The decision by Walt Disney Studios to publish Soul directly on their Disney + streaming platform and to deprive many viewers across Europe of the opportunity to see it on the big screen shocked and dismayed all cinema operators.
The vast majority of cinemas across Europe and indeed many regions of the world are now open, offering audiences a safe and enjoyable return. Cinema operators have invested heavily in providing the safest possible experience for their audience based on a promising schedule for new film releases.
Once again, however, they find a dealer who delivers another hit. Choosing Soul is doubly frustrating for operators who anticipated its release after the film was previewed at a number of major European film festivals.
There is compelling evidence that upon return, the audience found the experience both safe and enjoyable. But it’s also clear that it’s the release of new films that makes the difference when it comes to getting people back on screen.
Across Europe, countless local releases have successfully shown in many cinemas since reopening, underscoring the fact that first titles are more important than ever.
UNIC would like to thank the sales partners who have been confirmed and continue to bring films to the cinema. Not only have they shown that they recognize the value of a theatrical release, but also that they support our shared vision of unity. This commitment to European cinema will not be forgotten.
Decisions to postpone titles, bypass cinemas and the value they create are utterly disappointing – and worrying – and will only delay the day the entire industry can move out of this crisis. It’s not just cinemas and audiences that are missing out – this situation must surely be deeply frustrating for the makers and talent who want to see their films on the big screen.
While cinemas will find it difficult to recover without new releases, so will our studio partners, whose decisions under such circumstances can cause irreparable damage to key markets. Many of them are less placed to support their films if they choose to release them.
It is no exaggeration to say that it could be too late for many European cinemas when some studios decide that the moment is right for their films to be released.