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Pixar's 'Luca' Will Now Debut On Disney Plus This Summer


With the vaccine rollout picking up pace, there are signs that there might finally be light at the end of the tunnel. But things are not going to change overnight. All of which puts film distributors in a tricky spot, trying to ensure that movies are released while trying to maximise potential profits.

Cinemas reopening in New York and Los Angeles is an important step forward, but capacity is reduced by government mandate and people's confidence to return is still pretty low. It's not really that big a surprise that The Walt Disney Company has made yet more changes to their upcoming slate, pushing releases back, and giving live-action 101 Dalmations prequel Cruella and Marvel's Black Widow combined theatrical and Disney Plus Premiere Access releases.

Meanwhile, Pixar's next feature film Luca, due to arrive in June will now forgo a theatrical release entirely. As with its immediate predecessor Soul, the coming-of-age fantasy will now instead premiere exclusively on Disney Plus. And similarly, just as in the case of Soul it will be offered to all subscribers without any need to shell out for the premiere access fee ($30.00 in the US, £19.99 in the UK).

To the casual observer, it might seem that Disney's approach is inconsistent. They have been experimenting with their releases throughout the pandemic and it seems they have settled on the hybrid release approach for their highest-profile titles. And with consumer habits changing, it's likely that this strategy may stick around after the pandemic.

But isn't Pixar one of their highest-profile brands? Their films are not cheap, either so skipping cinemas seems to be leaving potential money on the table. However, it is notable that both recent Pixar titles are originals and could be said to be a 'harder sell' than a known brand or sequel. It's an interesting thing to consider- would they have made the same decision if it was a more obviously bankable flick like a Toy Story sequel? Disney describes it as "a special offering to kick off the summer season".

Luca is the feature debut of Enrico Casarosa, director of acclaimed Pixar short La Luna. Inspired by his own childhood in the Italian Riviera, it follows the unlikely friendship between a human boy and a sea monster that can take on human form. The film is written by Mike Jones (co-writer of Soul) and novelist and screenwriter Jesse Andrews (Me, Earl And The Dying Girl). It features the voices of Jacob Tremblay, Maya Rudolph, Jim Gaffigan and Jack Dylan Grazer.

Luca will now be released streaming to all Disney Plus subscribers worldwide on its originally planned theatrical release date of June 18. In markets where Disney Plus is not yet available, the film will still screen theatrically, with a release date to be announced.