At its Investors Day today, Disney announced that it would follow Warner Bros. in sending some of its films to a simultaneous theatrical and streaming release in 2021, starting with upcoming animated film Raya and the Last Dragon.
The studio released a first look back in October, showing off a film about a young woman who has to try and track down a dragon to save her home. The film is slated for a March 12th, 2021 release in theaters, and now, Disney says that the film will hit its streaming service at the same time.
The move comes as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, making theater-going an uncertain proposition. While 2020 was marked with closed theaters and pushed-back release dates, studios seem willing to move forward and release upcoming films through their new streaming channels. There are more films moving toward streamers entirely; Disney also announced that the upcoming live-action remakes of Pinocchio and Peter Pan will be Disney+ releases.
Last week, Warner Bros. announced that it was releasing all of its 2021 films in theaters and on HBO Max at the same time next year—a unique plan that’s not expected to go beyond into 2022. The move has been heavily criticized by studios, actors, and theaters.
Despite that, it looks as though Disney will do something similar by putting some of its upcoming films in theaters where it’s safe, and letting everyone else watch at home. Unlike Warner Bros., which said that it’ll be releasing the film to subscribers at no extra charge, Raya and the Last Dragon will follow Mulan‘s lead and cost subscribers an additional premium fee.