Several Pixar staffers spoke anonymously to Insider to criticize Disney’s decision to move some of the animation studio’s titles exclusively to the streaming platform Disney+. The first Pixar film to sidestep movie theaters was Pete Docter’s “Soul,” but many Pixar workers believed that was a one-time decision due to the pandemic shuttering theaters in 2020. However, Disney announced in March that Pixar’s upcoming “Luca” would also skip theaters and head straight to Disney+, despite theaters re-opening and the exhibition market slowly coming back to life. “Luca” will be available on Disney+ without the $29.99 premium fee used by “Mulan” and “Raya and the Last Dragon.”
“‘Luca’ doesn’t even have a premium price next to it,” one staffer told Insider. “Does it make it lesser? It’s hard to grasp.”
“We don’t want to be a title just on Disney Plus,” another staffer who is working on several upcoming Pixar movies added. “These movies are crafted for the big screen. We want you to watch these movies with no distractions, no looking at your phones.”
Several Pixar sources said Docter was not happy with Disney’s decision to move “Soul” onto Disney+ exclusively, although any fears about the transition were quelled by the movie performing well on streaming. One Pixar staffer said Disney “was over the moon about the numbers,” but other staffers expressed concern on Pixar success no longer being quantified by box office grosses. As a worker put it, “If these movies aren’t having $1 billion runs, does that hurt the company? You wonder that.”
Added a veteran animator at the studio, “Everyone is worried about keeping their jobs if our films aren’t seen by Disney as financially successful.”
Pixar just won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature with “Soul,” but that film was eligible for Oscars because the Academy permitted movies with planned theatrical release that moved to streaming or PVOD openings to compete for awards. It’s unclear at this time if the Academy will keep that rule for the 2022 Oscars. If they don’t and the “Luca” release goes forward as planned, it will not be eligible for Oscars. Despite backlash over exhibition, Pixar staffers said their process remains the same.
“There will not be a change on how we make the films,” one animator said. “That’s what’s important; the piece of art. That’s what matters.”
Head over to Insider’s website to read the full Pixar report.