On October 12, Disney announced that the theatrical experience — something that film fans have compared to church and other holy rites — was actually an agnostic one. A new Media and Entertainment Division now oversees distribution of all Disney content, and makes cold-blooded determinations as to where audiences will find it. If it finds more people (and money) on streaming platforms, then that’s where it goes. Case in point: The universally adored “Soul,” a Pixar film that could also be a Best Picture contender, will debut on Disney+ December 25.
For a century, theaters were the most efficient way for studios to initially exhibit and market films: It brought the titles maximum attention, and set them up for future revenue streams. Theatrical exhibition also demands enormous marketing expense, and locks studios into 75-90 days of exclusivity when customers would prefer home access sooner. Other issues: Studios must share half