Cinemas ‘shocked and dismayed’ by Disney decision to launch Soul on streaming

Cinemas across Europe have expressed their outrage at the decision by Hollywood studio Disney to bypass a big-screen release for the new Pixar animation Soul and debut the film on their streaming platform Disney+.

The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC) released a statement saying the decision has “shocked and dismayed all cinema operators”.

The statement said: “The vast majority of cinemas across Europe and indeed many regions of the world are now open and able to offer a safe and enjoyable return for audiences. Cinema operators have invested massively in offering the safest possible experience to their audiences on the basis of a promising schedule of new film releases. Yet again, however, they find a distributor delivering another blow.”

Soul, which features Jamie Foxx as a jazz musician whose soul is separated from his body, is due to screen at the Rome film festival this week after it had its premiere on 10 October at the London film festival.

However, Disney appears to be following a similar model that it used to release its recent China-set adventure yarn Mulan, which was pulled from large-scale theatrical showings at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and instead was later released as a premium offering on Disney+. However, it appears Disney does not currently have plans to charge extra for Soul, which will be made available on 25 December.

But UNIC, whose president is the UK Cinema Association’s chief executive Phil Clapp, warned that Hollywood’s decisions “risk causing irreparable damage to key markets” and that when the studios want to release their blockbusters again, “it may be too late for many European cinemas”.

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