Analysis: Why Is Disney Releasing 'Turning Red' In Just One Hollywood Movie Theater?

On March 11, Walt Disney Co. DIS will be releasing the latest Pixar animated feature “Turning Red” on its Disney+ streaming service. This marks the third consecutive Pixar production that was steered away from theatrical release and straight to a streaming premiere.

However, the company has arranged for a one-week theatrical release for “Turning Red” at Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre, beginning March 11. Why is Disney dropping “Turning Red” into a single theater rather than providing it with a nationwide release?

The Reasoning: In order for a feature film to be eligible for the Academy Awards, it needs to have been given at least a one-week theatrical engagement in a Los Angeles-area cinema. It doesn’t matter if the film doesn't play in any other market, as long as that minimum requirement is met.

Other film award-giving entities including the Golden Globes, the film industry’s professional guilds and many critics organizations, also follow the Academy Award guidelines for eligibility. The one catch in the case of a streaming title like "Turning Red" is that the theatrical engagement cannot occur after a film is first shown in a small screen format; films that premiere on television or streaming before they turn up on a big screen are disqualified from Oscar consideration.

Thus, “Turning Red” will be eligible for the film awards honoring the titles released during 2022.

See Also: Disney Explores Cheaper, Ad Supported Tier Of Disney+ Streaming Service

The Results: Last year, Disney booked the Pixar feature “Luca” for a one-week engagement at a Los Angeles-area cinema while presenting it to U.S. audiences via Disney+. “Luca” is among the five nominees for this year’s Academy Award competition in the Best Animated Feature category., Inc. AMZN followed a similar strategy with a one-week Los Angeles-area theatrical engagement for “Coming 2 America” while the film reached most Americans via Amazon Prime — the Eddie Murphy comedy is a contender for this year’s Best Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar. MGM/United Artists Releasing also took that approach for its musical “Cyrano,” with a one-week Los Angeles run in mid-December prior to its late February theatrical release — the film is now a contender for the Best Costume Design Oscar.

This is hardly a new strategy, and perhaps the most famous example of the one-week-in-Los-Angeles strategy involved the 1978 Universal Pictures release of “The Deer Hunter,” which played in a single theater in Los Angeles and in a single New York cinema in mid-December of that year. The New York engagement was designed for both the East Coast-based members of the Academy and for the prestigious New York Film Critics Circle, which gave the film its Best Picture honors.

The film went into a limited release in January 1979, followed by a national rollout in late February 1979 after it won five Oscars including Best Picture.

Photo: "Turning Red," courtesy of Disney+

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