With the shutting down of theaters the world over, Pixar's Onward got shafted at the box office. The film could only make around $104 million at the global stage before folding and going to streaming. During a chat, director for the film Dan Scanlon revealed his feelings towards Onward having to go to digital before getting a full run in theaters,
"Clearly, the right thing to do is for everyone to stay in and be safe and take care of themselves. That said, it's pretty great that folks are getting to see it online and that people are getting to have a little moment of joy, hopefully, or a little distraction with the film. And it's been really wonderful to hear on social media, how much they enjoyed the film, how much they enjoyed getting to watch it with their family. And that it did bring them some joy during this time."
Onward tells the story of two elf brothers, who set off on a journey across the land to find a way to bring their dead father back to life. In keeping with Pixar's commitment to using kid-friendly animation to explore darker themes and emotions, the movie does not shy away from addressing feelings of hurt, loss, regret, and guilt that the characters feel.
With a popular voice cast headed by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, the movie generated plenty of interest during the promotion stage. Upon release, it was praised by critics for being another solid, if not outstanding addition to the Pixar library of movies. While the movie was not able to live up to its box office potential, Scanlon clearly understands that the need of the hour is for families staying locked up in their homes to have something comforting to watch, which is where Onward can prove to be useful.
Disney, which owns Pixar, made an interesting decision to release the film for purchase online at the same time as making it free to view for subscribers to their Disney+ service. Clearly, the mouse empire is placing as much importance on getting new subscribers as making money at this early stage in their foray into online streaming. Predictably, reports have been coming in that the film is a popular choice among online viewers.
The shakeup of the film industry by the enforced lockdowns taking place the world over has made streaming the go-to choice for many major film studios. While some studios are still holding out hope for being able to release their films in theaters after a few months, the chances of that happening seem very slight at this stage.
When the lockdown ends, it will take some time for audiences to get over their fear of being in enclosed, crowded spaces, even for the chance to see Wonder Woman 1984 or Top Gun 2 on the big screen. But what is the theater's loss is streaming's gain, with many predicting that it will now permanently become the dominant medium of film distribution. This comes from CinemaBlend.
Disney+ may benefit from further delays with the studio's theatrical releases as more movies may be going directly to the streaming service in the future. This, according to former Disney CEO and current Executive Chairman Bob Iger. It was recently revealed that Artemis Fowl will debut on Disney+ sometime this year, skipping a theatrical release. As Iger explains, that may not be the only title to make the move from theatrical to streaming, but don't expect to see it happen with the studio's upcoming tentpole releases.
Given what's going on in the world right now, most movie theaters are shut down entirely and virtually all major releases through June have been delayed. Some have wondered if Disney might put movies like Black Widow or Mulan on Disney+ instead. While that won't be happening, Bob Iger isn't ruling out other movies making the shift. Here's what Iger had to say about it in a recent interview.
'There are some we've decided to put on Disney+. We already announced one, Artemis Fowl, that would have been released in theaters. Others we've simply delayed. In some cases we've moved things onto Disney+ faster than we would have. Frozen 2 was one of them, but Onward would be the biggest example. It was in theaters when this happened.'
'We moved to a pay-per-view period for a couple of weeks where people could buy it and own it. And then we ended up putting it on Disney+. In terms of movies going ahead after Artemis, there may be a few more that we end up putting directly onto Disney+, but for the most part a lot of the big tentpole Disney films, we'll simply wait for slots. In some cases we've announced new ones already, but later on in the calendar.'
There is a lot to unpack here. Black Widow and several other delayed movies were recently given new release dates as Disney reshuffled its 2020/2021 calendar. Black Widow and other big-budget tentpoles stand to make far more money in theaters, even with a relatively uncertain future ahead, than they could possibly generate via streaming. So putting movies like them directly on Disney+ doesn't make that much business sense.
In the meantime, taking riskier projects such as Artemis Fowl and giving Disney+ subscribers something flashy and exclusive is helpful. But what other movies might fit the bill for streaming debuts? The New Mutants perhaps? Whatever the case, as Bob Iger points out, the studio is content to wait until things return to normal. Disney, more than any other studio in Hollywood, is capable of raking in big dollars at the box office. So this truly isn't that surprising.
Other studios, on the other hand, may see value in doing a VOD/Digital release. Universal kicked that door wide open a couple of weeks back by putting recent releases such as The Invisible Man and The Hunt online. Trolls: World Tour, which was destined for theaters, will arrive digitally this month. Disney has not yet set a premiere date for Artemis Fowl, but it's...