Home Films Luca’s streaming numbers show why Pixar movies are moving to Disney+

Luca’s streaming numbers show why Pixar movies are moving to Disney+

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Luca was the most-streamed movie of 2022, and that success is a big reason future Pixar movies like Turning Red are heading straight to Disney+.

Recent figures released by Nielsen show just how successful Pixar’s streaming Lucas was for Disney+ and why more Pixar movies are going straight to the platform. The recent announcement that the next turn red would go straight to the streaming platform, Pixar’s third consecutive original film to do so, has seen Pixar fans and employees alike upset with the acclaimed studio’s perceived decrease in streaming original content. However, LucasDisney’s streaming success suggests that this decision was not due to a perceived weakness in hardware, but a strategic decision to support Disney’s goal of dominating streaming.

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Nielsen, the widely used TV ratings agency, recently released its annual survey of the most streamed films. Lucas, generally considered one of the best animated films of 2021, topped the list, being watched for a total of 10.6 billion minutes. The top four spots were also Disney+ animated films, including Raya and the last dragon, Moana, and Frozen II. This is all the more impressive since Disney+ has fewer subscribers than Netflix. While Nielsen’s numbers have limitations, they’re the most reliable and likely more credible third-party measurement service than streaming services’ self-reported numbers.


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The ultimate goal of Disney+ is to surpass Netflix, and Lucas topping the movie list is a big hit in that regard. Release of future Pixar films like TowerRed on the service is a way to continue this trend and satisfy subscribers. With theatrical releases still an uncertain prospect due to COVID-19, a high-profile streaming-exclusive Pixar release that could gain new subscribers could be more valuable to Disney, which helps explain why Pixar Originals are moving to Disney+.


Luca and Toy Story in Pixar movies.

The streaming format also perfectly matches the way kids consume movies. As any parent will admit, kids love to watch the same movie or video over and over again, which means a movie like Lucas can rack up significantly more streaming minutes than an adult-oriented movie with the same number of unique viewers. It’s also one of Disney+’s biggest selling points, giving parents something that can reliably keep their kids occupied. Release Pixar movies like Lucas and turn red directly to Disney+ makes them instantly reusable for kids.


Bypassing theaters and going straight to Disney+ could also give Pixar more flexibility when it comes to introducing original ideas. As with big-budget action movies, the high cost of moving pictures means that studios are often risk-averse and rely on established franchises and formulas. Seven of the 11 Pixar films released in the 2010s were sequels or prequels, and upcoming projects like the toy story spin off Light year suggest that the trend may continue. Lucas was in some ways an anomaly for recent Pixar, telling a smaller-scale, slower-paced story unrelated to previous hits, but its streaming numbers suggest such a story can be a hit on Disney+. Moving to more Disney+ releases could allow Pixar to explore original ideas and perhaps break out of what has become an established formula.


None of this is to say fans or Pixar employees shouldn’t be upset that they can’t see turn red or other future Pixar movies on the big screen. The ideal release for viewers would be a simultaneous theatrical and streaming release, though mixed results for 2021 simultaneous releases may make Disney reluctant to pursue such a strategy. But the massive streaming success of Lucas shows that Pixar movies being moved to Disney+ doesn’t suggest that Disney is neglecting or losing faith in the animation studio.

NEXT: Every Pixar Movie Release After Luca

  • Going Red (2022)Release date: March 11, 2022
  • Light year (2022)Release date: June 17, 2022

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