A handful of Pixar animated films denied a theatrical release during the height of COVID-19 will see their moment on the silver screen at the start of the new year. Starting in January, Soul, Luca, and Turning Red will have staggered releases, joined by a fresh slate of short films by Pixar’s SparkShorts.
Soul opens in theaters on January 12 with the short film Burrow. Turning Red debuts on February 9 with Kitbull, followed by the premiere of Luca on March 22 with the short For the Birds. The movies will be released ahead of Inside Out 2, which debuts in theaters in June 2024.
Pixar’s Elio was scheduled to hit theaters in March 2024, but the project was pushed to 2025 due to the dual Hollywood strikes. This marks the fourth year in a row Pixar had to delay a film’s theatrical release.
In June, Pixar’s creative chief officer, Pete Doctor, told Variety that straight to Disney+ rollouts were “a mixed blessing” that has “trained audiences” to turn to streaming over theaters. In his professional opinion, the films are best watched on the big screen for the full experience, such as Elemental, which debuted in June. Doctor said he’s grateful the projects joined the Disney+ platform but insists audiences will miss the intricate details and atmospheric vibes only a theater can provide.
Although the films didn’t initially get a theatrical release, they did well with audiences. In 2020, Soul, starring Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey, was the first Pixar film to debut exclusively on Disney+ and became one of the top-ten films of the year, winning two Academy Awards.
Luca, starring Jacob Tremblay and Jack Dylan Grazer, followed suit in 2021 and was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the Golden Globe Awards and Academy Awards.
Turning Red, the first Pixar film directed by a woman, landed on Disney+ in 2022. Starring Rosalie Chiang and Sandra Oh, it grossed more than $20 million and was nominated for Best Animated Feature.