Pixar’s ‘Soul’ Could Be a Much Bigger Hit Now that Disney Has Pushed the Movie to the Fall

Pixar fans know the studio movies have soul. But now they won’t get to see Soul until later than expected.

For 25 years, Pixar has flourished as one of the most successful brands in family entertainment. Not only has the company made over 20 hits; those movies have been almost universally beloved by critics. Even before Disney purchased Lucasfilm, the two companies were changing Hollywood with films like Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo.

Now the studio has a new film, its 23rd, coming soon to theaters. Soul follows a musician (voiced by Jamie Foxx) on a quest to reunite his soul with his body. From the director of Up and Inside Out, the movie will be released on Nov. 20, 2020. But for a while, its release was very much up in the air.

Dan Scanlon and Kori Rae at the UK Premiere of 'Onward'
Dan Scanlon and Kori Rae at the UK Premiere of ‘Onward’ | Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney

Disney released Pixar’s ‘Onward’ to digital just weeks after theaters

Following the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Hollywood had to dramatically adjust its schedule. With movie theaters shut down nationwide, all the major studios pushed their spring and summer releases back. For its part, Disney moved hugely anticipated films like Mulan and Black Widow until later in the year, while others opted for a 2021 release.

Then there’s Onward. The Pixar film had only just released in theaters when the pandemic overtook the industry. Just two weeks after its release in theaters, Disney made the film available for digital purchase. Then it hit Disney+ in early April 2020.

Although Onward was already underperforming, its total box office gross — just over $100 million worldwide — was severely affected by the pandemic. Disney’s decision to release it digitally as well as Universal’s successful on-demand launch of Trolls: World Tour could have meant a similar fate for Soul if the studio had chosen another route.

Disney pushed its second 2020 Pixar movie, ‘Soul,’ to November

Alas, Disney has chosen not to go directly to digital with Soul. From a business perspective, that’s probably for the best. The studio is almost certainly looking at a long road ahead to recoup its investment on Onward. Plus, these unprecedented circumstances led Disney to send its $125 million Artemis Fowl movie straight to Disney+.

Soul actually held onto its June 19, 2020 release date for much longer than most summer movies. But as that date drew nearer, it has become clearer that Hollywood will almost certainly not be recovered by then. No one what the movie theater business will look like whenever the pandemic’s spread begins to wane.

Fortunately for Disney, the company had several key release dates staked out for its various upcoming projects. So, rather than squeeze Soul elsewhere, the studio has simply pushed animated film Raya and the Last Dragon — originally scheduled for November — to March 21, 2021 instead.

‘Soul’ could be a much bigger financial hit as a holiday release

In fact, Soul‘s new release date could actually make the movie an even bigger hit. Of course, factoring in the pandemic, this later date should allow much more time for the world to begin getting back to something resembling normalcy. But in addition to that, Soul now has a prime Thanksgiving release slot.

Rather than coming out amidst a crowded summer, Soul — which, it should be noted, had received little to no marketing hype before its release was pushed — could now be the breakout family hit of the holiday season. In many ways, its November release harkens back to classic Pixar as well.

The studio’s first four films — Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, and Monsters Inc. — were all released in November. It wasn’t until Finding Nemo in 2003 when Disney began to stake out late May and June release dates for its Pixar films. Since then, Pixar released only Coco and The Good Dinosaur at Thanksgiving. Expect Soul to do much bigger business this fall.