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Disney and Pixar’s Onward is Now Available on Disney+ in Canada

April 3, 2020

By John Corrado

Despite only opening in theatres a mere four weeks ago on March 6th, Disney and Pixar’s Onward is now available to watch on Disney+ as of today in Canada and the United States, for anyone with a subscription to the streaming service. This move comes after the animated film was previously made available for early digital purchase on March 20th.

This is clearly an unprecedented move for a big theatrical release from a major studio like Disney, but we are also living in unprecedented times. With theatres shut down for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus pandemic, and social distancing measures in place to help stop the deadly spread of COVID-19, movie studios are adjusting to these strange new times and being forced to adapt.

In the case of Onward, the film was already not as much of a moneymaker as the studio had hoped in theatres, so a move like this was needed to both help recoup costs and allow people to still get a chance to see and enjoy the film while staying at home. I was lucky enough to see it twice in theatres before self-quarantine started, (once at one of the special early Leap Day screenings on February 29th and again at a press screening), and can personally recommend it.

The film follows two elf brothers, Ian (Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt), who set out on a magical quest through their suburban fantasy world in hopes of being reunited with their late father for one more day with the help of a spell. In my review of the film, which you can read right here, I called Onward an “entertaining and emotionally resonant animated adventure,” and I stand by that.

Today’s release of Onward on Disney+ also comes fresh off of the announcement that Artemis Fowl, which was previously slated for release in theatres on May 28th, will now be released exclusively on the streaming service sometime this summer. The global pandemic has forced all studios to rework their entire release calendars, with Disney also cancelling last week’s theatrical release of Mulan and pushing it back to the (rather optimistic) date of July 24th, while shifting Marvel’s Black Widow away from its May 1st release date and rescheduling it to November 6th.

With Mulan now set for July, Disney’s Jungle Cruise has been pushed back a year to summer of 2021, with a bunch of other movies currently being shifted to make room for the ones being delayed. Aside from Artemis Fowl, Disney is still planning traditional theatrical releases for all of these movies, but it’s anyone’s guess how things will change in the next few months. As of now, Pixar’s Soul, the animation giant’s second movie set to come out this year, is still keeping its original theatrical release date of June 19th, but it seems likely that it could get pushed back at this point.

Giving Onward an early streaming release is the right move considering the circumstances, offering families and Pixar fans something new to watch while staying at home. My only hope is that Onward will still get a physical release on Blu-ray down the line, which I will admit is mainly for personal reasons so I can add it to my shelf alongside Pixar’s 21 other films. For now, though, I might just watch it again on Disney+ while I’m stuck at home…

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