Turning Red Pulled From TheatersThe Dark Herald
That is the trailer for Turning Red, and Pixar’s animators are doing exactly that.
This is Pixar’s third movie in a row to get pulled from theatrical distribution and dumped on Disney +. Soul and Luca both got jerked from theaters “due to Covid,” and were sent straight to streaming.
Now the pull and dump on Soul was understandable, there was genuine Corona panic when it was supposed to hit the big screen, (as opposed to the pretend panic we have now). But that wasn’t the case by the time Luca was supposed to launch.
And at this point, it is no reason to pull a movie at all. Spiderman has demonstrated that nobody cares about catching the Great Pestilence at theaters because Transformers Covid doesn’t need much of a viral load to give you the ten-day flu, it probably is spreading at grocery store lines now.
So why did Disney pull Turning Red?
The normal reason would be that it was testing badly and would have tanked at the box office, not earning back the promotional money spent on it. That is what Disney is more or less saying.
I’m calling BS on that one.
The theater owners wouldn’t be this pissed at Disney if Turning Red was a dud.
And any man who is genuinely familiar with female tastes can see that a big red, fluffy, cat-panda-teddybear thing is going to be a gigantic hit with little girls and wine-moms everywhere. After Pixar’s last two movies, this one is very low risk in terms of box office appeal. Sure, it’s Woke-washed but it looks cute enough to make money.
Besides, the reputable rumor mills all say it was tracking well.
Okay, so why pull it?
There are two reasons: business and politics.
Disney is still absolutely desperate for content for its flagship streaming service. In about 18 months there is going to be a flood of new shows on the service but for now it’s one new Marvel/Star Wars series every other month.
And nobody is watching them.
While the Book of Boba Fett appears to have tanked hard. Encanto is doing great business for Mickey the Great and Terrible. It’s currently the D+ flagship movie and We Don’t Talk About Bruno has become a novelty hit.
Since series TV has fallen on its face for them, Disney is going with what worked last, which is a CG animated movie it pulled from theaters.
Bob Chapek has been putting down rebellious vassals since taking the Mouse Throne. All of the division studio heads have given him major trouble. But he has one by one put down the revolts and brought them to heel. Kathleen Kennedy made her deal. Kevin Feige finally knelt and kissed the ring (although he is still holding a dagger behind his back). Now, it’s Pixar’s turn.
Pixar is in as bad a shape as the other two but its problems haven’t been as highly visible. The studio is based in the too-Woke-to-be-functional Bay Area and these days it shows. While it was once the king of computer animation, that was under the leadership of John Lasseter. And Lasseter (while a good California liberal) wasn’t anywhere near Woke enough for the new generation of animators he had hired. He wasn’t that interested in Representation and Inclusivity at the expense of entertainment and that was what the poisonous little vipers he had gathered to his breast wanted. The coup against him had Bob Iger’s blessing because he was all about kneecapping potential rivals for his job and Lasseter was the natural choice to take over for him *
The firing of John Lasseter proved to be a decapitation strike on Pixar. Pete Docter is now the CEO but he doesn’t have anyting close to the creative vision or leadership of John Lasseter. And speaking of the fallen king, Lasseter has been strip-mining the best talent out of his old company for his new gig at Skydance Animation. Pixar is at this point looking more like a Portland sit-in than a subsidiary of Disney. There have been frequent internal discussions by its employees as to how they can make Pixar an independent studio again. There is no way in hell for them to do, for the simple and obvious reason that they are wholly owned by Mickey the Great and Terrible. It’s a stupid idea but they can’t shut up about it.
The studio has gotten to do whatever it wanted to do since 2019 and for the most part it wanted to make “representative and inclusive art.”
Rather than money.
If I am being fair, neither Luca nor Soul was incompetent filmmaking but neither I nor (more importantly) my children were engaged with these films. There is nothing like Wall-E or the Incredibles anywhere on the horion. Like Marvel, Pixar has been prioritizing Progressive politics over money-making for years and Chapek has had enough.
In damaging Pixar’s theatrical revenue Budget-cut Bob has damaged Pixar’s ability to resist his will.
The big question I have is, does the Disney CEO want to bring this subsidiary back up to speed as a moneymaker for Disney? Or is he simply going to shut down Pixar, sell off Renderman, and roll all IPs and resources into Disney Animation in Burbank?
It comes down to the big question of, can Pixar become even a shadow of what it used to be?
My best guess is that getting control of Pixar and then turning it around will require a strongly creative leader in charge of Disney and my left big toenail has more creativity than Bob Chapek.
Turning Red is one more indication that Pixar is doomed.
*Iger was too worried about prince-candidates from the film side of things to pay attention to the Chairman of Parks and Experiences.