Pixar Exec Pete Docter Shares Thoughts on Soul and Luca's Disney+ Releases

The past year has brought some major changes to the world of blockbuster movies, as the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench in a lot of the conventional theatrical experience. As studios have learned to adapt to the changing marketplace, a number of major titles have found their way to streaming services, including two recent releases from Pixar. After the studio's Soul was released free for subscribers on Disney+ last Christmas, the streaming service confirmed that the upcoming film Luca would also be released on that platform, instead of as a theatrical release. That decision definitely surprised many in the industry — and Pixar Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter recently spoke about the decision in an interview with DiscussingFilm.

"Well, for those of us who’ve been around for a while, this is our first film that did not have a direct theatrical release," Docter revealed. "I would be lying if I said we were thrilled about that. I think there is something big and monumental about a theatrical release, going to these big buildings with a bunch of strangers to see it on the big screen. That’s the way we’ve made it; we finalized every frame on a big screen. So to kind of skip that and know that people are gonna be watching on their iPhones or whatever? I hope they’re not watching on their iPhones. I hope they at least put it on a TV with some good sound because the people who worked on the film, you know, there’s such amazing stuff in there."

"In terms of the actual release, I think there are details in terms of where you advertise and how you get the word out, but to me it almost felt like the audience was bigger on Soul," Docter added. "Part of it might be where we are in time; we’re all stuck locked up at home. So for everybody, in the privacy of their own homes, to have suddenly seen the film within a weekend or two weeks or whatever, that was pretty mind blowing. Whereas theatrically, it seems like it’s a little bit of a longer [wait]. Sometimes there’s months before I hear from friends who are like, “Oh, finally saw your film!” whereas [with Soul] it was all pretty quick.

Luca tells the story of a young boy and his friend who appear completely human and normal when they're out of the water, but they are really mysterious sea creatures. Their lives begin to change when they befriend a young girl on the surface. The film is directed by Enrico Casarosa with a script from Jesse Andrews and Mike Jones. The all-star vocal ensemble includes Jacob Tremblay, Maya Rudolph, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Marco Barricelli, and Jim Gaffigan.

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Luca is set to debut on June 18th. If you haven't signed up for Disney+ yet, you can try it out here.

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