In recent years, some streaming services started debuting theatrical releases alongside their platforms. Disney+ premiered 15 films slated for theatrical releases, such as Hamilton, Mulan, Soul, Cruella, and Black Widow. This helped keep a lot of these movies from being missed or postponed. However, now audiences are more likely to wait for films to be available on streaming platforms over going to the big screen.
Last year, Forbes reported that 55 percent of audiences would rather watch a flick at home than in theaters. Of those polled, 50 percent said theater prices were too expensive.
In an interview with Variety, Pixars Creative Chief Officer Peter Docter said, “In the long run, there’s been a bit of a mixed blessing because we’ve trained audiences that these films will be available for you on Disney+. And it’s more expensive for a family of four to go to a theater when you know they can wait and it’ll come out on the platform.”
Home theater experiences are getting better at bringing the big screen feel to your living room, but Peter Docter says not all films can be viewed as the creators intended. Regarding the release of Soul, he said, “We looked at every frame. There’s so much detail and gorgeous imagery and work that was done that you can’t quite appreciate on a smaller screen.”
Pixar’s upcoming film Elemental is one Docter recommends seeing in theaters to truly capture the essence of the project from cinematography to the impactful music. “When you go to the theater, it’s this rich immersive experience, and you feel like you’re in the middle of the score.” The film premiered exclusively in theaters on June 16th.
Elemental is set in Element City with fire, water, land, and air residents living together. Ember is a fiery young gal whose friendship with “go-with-the-flow” Wade provides unique insight into how she views their world. And Peter Docter hopes the film will provide a fresh appreciation for the theatrical realm as well.
So far, Elemental has earned $29.5 million in U.S. theaters, significantly less than other Pixar releases. That’s not to say the movie itself isn’t up to par with Pixar’s other films, just that perhaps audiences have grown accustomed to waiting for the at-home experience. We’ll see what home audiences think when Elemental debuts on Disney+. When that will be has yet to be announced.
Which do you prefer: Heading out to the theater or waiting for streaming debuts?