The filmmakers behind Pixar’s latest animation Soul have said they are “hopeful” for the future of cinemas, after it was announced the movie will skip a theatrical release and head straight to Disney+.
News that the highly-anticipated film, about a jazz musician whose soul separates from his body, will be made available on the streaming service on Christmas Day came shortly after cinema chain Cineworld announced it is temporarily closing all its UK sites, while nearly a quarter of Vue cinemas will be shut three days a week.
The film will still be released in cinemas in international markets where the Disney+ is yet to launch.
Speaking following the film’s premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, where it screened in cinemas around the country, producer Dana Murray told the PA news agency: “I think that people love going to the theatre and having that communal experience in a theatre, I know I do. I know I miss it.
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“I think people crave that and I think people crave being together.
“We know that releasing it on Disney+, we think that the film is timely and people should see it now, and so the more time we sit with the news of it releasing on Disney +, I think we are really excited about it.
“But I won’t lie, we were processing, it was a gut punch, we thought we would be releasing in theatres in June and here we are entering the holiday season and this is still going on.
“But I am very hopeful for the future of the theatres, I don’t think people ever (will not want to), it’s like going to a play or a musical, that is never going to go away. People love that.”
Director Pete Docter added: “If you look internationally it’s very promising. Some of the countries that are coming on line, that are doing better than the United States in terms of getting health back, they are going back to theatres, so that is a promising sign even though it’s been rough.
“People do enjoy that group communal experience of watching characters on the screen.”
The film is co-directed and co-written by Kemp Powers, who also saw another of his movies premiere at the festival.
Powers penned the screenplay for One Night In Miami, adapted from his own play, telling a fictional account of a night when Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown gathered in a hotel room to to discuss their roles in the civil rights movement and the cultural upheaval of the times.
Discussing the unexpected similarities between the films, he said: “It says a lot about social responsibility artists have and it’s interesting, we are in a time when I think many people might seem to devalue art, but what I’ve been thinking in our recent times is that it’s never more proof of how powerful art is.
“I think art can be turned into a tool of propaganda, it can be weaponised, it can be used to divide us, and it can also be something that really brings us all together.”
Soul will be available on Disney+ on December 25.