The new year started off like any other. The economy was strong. People were living their lives. The weather was milder than usual, and the thought of longer days and warmer weather was on the horizon. With every new season, there is usually a new film from the Disney production companies, and this year was not different. Pixar, a division of Disney, released Onward in theaters on March 6, 2020, but just as soon as it arrived, its life expectancy in the theaters was suddenly cut short by a new virus affecting people around the world! By mid-March, theaters were ordered to close. Disney made the business savvy decision that would put smiles on viewers’ faces and money in the pockets of the company. 

With the current pandemic, COVID-19, the effects on Onward in the box office along with other newly released movies have been greatly felt. “Given the current circumstances, we are pleased to release this fun, adventurous film to digital platforms early for audiences to enjoy from the comfort of their homes,” said Director Dan Scanlon and Producer Kori Rae in a statement released Friday. “After a disappointing box office showing for Disney’s Onward, which was made by its Pixar Animation Studios, the company announced it would release it to streaming services early. The film was released in theaters in early March–unfortunate timing, given the coronavirus’ spread and subsequent steps taken to control it, including shuttering theaters” (Rothman 2020). While the pandemic has affected this Disney movie’s profits in theaters, it has also affected the Disney franchise. “The company touches so many different areas, including networks, theme parks, and movies. But with so many places and sports shut down, people can’t go to its theme parks, watch live sports, or go to theaters to see its movies. ESPN is airing old games, for instance, but it’s not the same” (Rothman 2020). The decision to release Onward onto its digital streaming service Disney+ during this time of social distancing was brilliant. While COVID-19 has wreaked havoc with the economy, the pandemic has actually helped to increase the number of Disney+ subscribers from 6.5 million at the end of its fiscal first quarter in December 2019 to more than 28.6 million by the end of February 2020.

In addition to Onward, Disney also released Frozen 2 early. Disney is making smart moves by streaming newly released films earlier than expected. People are happy, and Disney’s profits for its new Disney+ will be happy too! 

So why did Disney make the decision to make Onward available so soon after its abrupt departure from theaters? It was a chance to entertain people on a global level and increase membership in its new streaming service. Christy Lemire states in her review of Onward, that this movie is “high-energy, pop-culture-heavy result that feels frantically eager to please, until it tries to yank at your heartstrings in the by-now familiar formula of Pixar Animation.” Onward is a great movie to share with your family and a great way to pass time during the pandemic.

The movie follows a 16-year old boy, Ian, who is voiced by Tom Holland. Shy and skinny, Ian was in his mom’s womb when his dad died, making it impossible to ever be able to meet his father. He hopes that when his son turns 16 it will inspire him to make friends and take chances. Ian makes a checklist of goals hoping that it will keep him inspired. He hopes that with his goals written down and ready to go he will be able to be like his father and confident making his 16th birthday the best one yet. Barley, voiced by Chris Pratt, who is Ian’s older brother, is a bit stunted and still living at home with their mom. Their mother reveals to the boys a secret that she was meant to hold onto until Ian’s 16th birthday: their father left them an ancient staff with a rare gem to place atop it. With those items, along with a few magical words, it would bring their father back to them for 24 hours. The catch was that they could only perform the spell once and they had to get it exactly right or else they would never see their father again. The spell doesn’t go exactly as planned for Ian and Barley; from the waist down with just a pair of khakis and shoes with whimsical purple socks the spell for their father to be able to spend 24 hours with them didn’t work. With the spell completed only half way, Ian and Barley must set off on a quest to see if there could possibly be a little more magic waiting for them. What happens next will warm your heart! Onward does not disappoint. It takes its audiences into another dimension that offers humor and adventure with a dose of family love. The pandemic has affected the lives of everyone at every age, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t able to spend quality time with our families and watch a Disney movie like Onward! This is a movie anyone can enjoy, and it doesn’t hurt to take our minds off of COVID-19 for a little while!

Onward © 2019 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

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