Pixar Gives up on Disney+, Will Not Release More Movies

in Disney, Pixar

Bob Iger with a serious expression standing beside the iconic disney logo with a blue gradient background.

Credit: Inside the Magic

Pixar Animation Studios has had enough of Disney+ ruining its box office grosses and critical acclaim and will not be releasing any more feature films on the Mouse’s streaming platform.

The image features a large assortment of movie and TV show posters, forming a colorful background mosaic. In the center, prominently displayed, is the Disney+ logo, indicating that the platform offers a wide variety of content.
Credit: Inside the Magic

Disney+ Direct-to-Streaming

The advent of streaming media has thrown the entertainment industry into chaos on a scale arguably not seen since the introduction of sound films or home media like VHS and DVDs. The Walt Disney Company initially saw the growing popularity of streaming platforms like Netflix to be a nuisance, then competition, and finally a threat.

In 2019, Disney+ was launched to much fanfare and a rock-bottom subscription price of $6.99 a month for access to virtually every piece of media that the world’s premiere entertainment company had produced for decades, give or take a Song of the South (1946) or two.

The "Tar Baby" scene in Song of the South
Credit: Disney

Fast forward five years later, and things don’t look so great for Disney+. The platform still significantly lags behind Netflix in terms of both popularity and technology, which Disney CEO Bob Iger will readily admit.

In 2023 alone, the streaming service lost millions of subscribers and has been struggling to turn a profit; the initially low subscription price has been raised numerous times, ads are being pushed on viewers at every opportunity, and the company has resorted to teaming up with industry rivals like Warner Bros. Discovery to try to woo new customers.

Related: “Not a Profitable Business”: Bob Iger Reveals Future of Failing Disney+

According to Bob Iger, Disney+ was launched too fast, too soon, and cost the company billions. At the recent MoffettNathanson Media, Internet & Communications Conference, the Disney CEO said:

“As we got into the streaming business in a very, very aggressive way, we tried to tell too many stories. Basically, we invested too much, way ahead of possible returns. It’s what led to streaming ending up as a $4 billion loss.”

Joe Gardner holding 22's hand, Mei Lee posing with her panda form, Luca transforming human
Credit: Pixar

But aside from its own very significant operating losses, Disney+ may have cost the company a fortune in lost box office revenue. During the COVID-19 crisis, Disney released several Pixar movies direct-to-streaming on the platform, apparently banking on the idea that getting movies like Luca (2021), Turning Red (2022), and Lightyear (2022) in front of audiences at home was better than nothing.

“We Will Not Release Another Feature Film on Disney+”

Unfortunately, the perceived cumulative effect of releasing new Pixar animation directly on Disney+ was that it devalued the critically acclaimed studio. While Pixar ruled animation in the 2000s and 2010s, winning a staggering 11 Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and being nominated for literally dozens of others, it is currently struggling in the wake of some of its mostly poorly regarded releases to date.

In response to its company-wide financial doldrums, Disney has announced a wave of sequels to some of its own popular franchises. Pixar Animation Studios is currently scheduled to release Inside Out 2 and Toy Story 5 in the next two years, but its top executive has determined that Disney+ will not be part of their premieres (per Bloomberg).

Riley from 'Inside Out 2' with blonde hair, braces, and blue eyes, wearing a blue hoodie, holds a lacrosse stick while smiling excitedly. Behind them, another character is seen handling sports equipment, indicating a sporty environment that captures the essence of teenagehood.
Credit: Pixar Animation Studios

Related: Leaning Into Sequels, Disney Revives Two More Pixar Franchises

Pixar President Jim Morris says that new animated projects from his arm of the Disney beast will not rely on the streaming service and that more differentiation between feature films and series is necessary. He said:

“I hope that we will not release another feature film on Disney+. If we do more stuff for Disney+, it should be a series, and then that makes a clean demarcation between what we do for theaters and what we do for streaming.”

Notably, Pixar is currently developing streaming series directly for release on Disney+. Win or Lose will reportedly center on a middle school softball team, with each episode focused on a different character, while Dream Productions will be a spinoff of the Inside Out franchise focusing on (you guessed it) teenage Riley’s dreams.

Disney+ logo over Pixar logo with characters
Credit: Disney/Pixar

But Jim Morris is making it clear that Pixar considers feature films on Disney+ to be a losing proposition, and it is hard to argue with him about that. While COVID-19 threw the industry into uncharted waters, it cannot be denied that the bungled streaming rollout of Luca, Turning Red, Lightyear, Black Widow (2021), Cruella (2021), and Jungle Cruise (2021) hit Disney hard. As far as Pixar is concerned, Disney+ lost its privileges to premiere its movies.

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