Successive delays of the film industry's would-be blockbusters has only made the dire circumstances of movie theatres more acute.

FILE PHOTO: A smartphone displays the
FILE PHOTO: A smartphone displays the "Disney+" logo in streaming service advert from March 24, 2020. (Reuters)

Walt Disney Co has said that Pixar's animated movie "Soul," which had been set to hit theatres in November, will instead debut on the Disney+ streaming service on Christmas Day.

"Soul" will play in cinemas only in markets where Disney+ is not currently available, or will not be soon, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

The move, widely expected after the recent exodus of most major upcoming releases, marks one of the final dominoes to fall in Hollywood's disastrous autumn. Following the exit of the James Bond film “No Time to Die” from November, the next big movie on the calendar is Warner Bros' “Wonder Woman 1984," currently set for December 25.

The successive delays of the film industry's would-be blockbusters has only made the dire circumstances of movie theatres more acute.

READ MORE: Release of Marvel's 'Black Widow' postponed to May 2021

60 million subscribers

Disney is testing new ways to release first-run movies while the coronavirus pandemic limits attendance at theatres, particularly in the United States. The company is trying to attract more customers to Disney+, which has signed up more than 60 million subscribers worldwide.

"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," Disney said in a statement.

Covid-hit industry

Earlier this week, Cinemark said it would again shutter the US and UK locations of its Regal cinemas, the country's second-largest theater chain.

On Thursday, the National Association of Theatre Owners, the trade group of exhibitors, said its #SaveYourCinema campaign has flooded Congress with more than 300,000 letters. Filmmakers including Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins have joined the campaign lobbying Congress to bring financial relief to theatre owners.

Without aid, the organisation said, 69 percent of small and mid-sized movie theatre companies will close or go bankrupt.

“The stark reality is that many movie theatres will not be able to open again if they don’t receive government help,” says Esther Baruh, director of government relations for the association. “This is as urgent as it gets."

READ MORE: Disney to lay off roughly 28,000 of its park employees

No extra payment

In September, Disney's action epic "Mulan" skipped theatres and went straight to Disney+. In that case, the company charged Disney+ subscribers an extra $30 to watch "Mulan."

"Soul," which tells the story of a middle school music teacher (Jamie Fox) with dreams of becoming a jazz musician, whose soul gets separated from his body, will be available to Disney+ customers starting December 25 without an extra payment beyond the monthly subscription price.

The film was originally to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Expectations had been high for “Soul,” directed by Pete Docter, Pixar’s chief creative officer and the filmmaker behind “Up” and “Inside Out.

Debut dates in markets where the movie will play in theatres will be announced later, Disney said.

READ MORE: Golden Globes delayed amid Covid-19 pandemic

Source: TRTWorld and agencies