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Turning Red Just Smashed An Important Record On Disney+

Pixar Animation Studios is still going strong, making relatable films more than 20 years down the road. The studio's 25th feature film, "Turning Red," premiered exclusively on Disney+ on March 11 and is, so far, enjoying overall positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes reveals that critics have given the film a 95% rating, while 72% of audiences liked it, too. The new movie follows middle schooler Meilin "Mei" Lee, a Toronto tween who discovers that she turns into a giant red panda when she experiences particularly strong emotions. "Turning Red" is the feature directorial debut of longtime Pixar creative Domee Shi, who won an Academy Award for her 2018 animated short film "Bao" as the first woman to direct a Pixar short and the first woman of color to win the award (via Vox).

Shi pitched "Turning Red" to Pixar based on her own experiences with adolescence. She told ScreenRant that when she pitched three feature film ideas to the studio, the one that grew into her first feature-length project was "the most personal, and, I think, the weirdest one." The metaphors for puberty at play in "Turning Red" are clear from the outset, even while the film's logic involves an entire family lineage of people able to turn into red pandas. The new movie seems a worthy addition to Pixar's filmography, and according to Disney, viewership response to the film's release on Disney+ marked a milestone for the company.

Turning Red is the top Disney+ film release to date, according to Disney

On Wednesday, the official Pixar "Turning Red" Twitter account shared that Pixar's 25th feature film is the number one Disney+ film release globally. According to the announcement, this metric is based on the total number of hours people spent watching the film around the world in the three days after its March 11 release. 

Unfortunately, due to Disney's unwillingness to share viewership data for its streaming service, it's hard to know exactly what number tipped "Turning Red" into a record-breaking release for the platform; we likely won't know until the day comes when they decide to share this information (via The Verge). Similarly, it's unclear what previous, high-ranking release "Turning Red" had to surpass to reach this feat.

Pixar's three most recent films — "Turning Red," "Luca," and "Soul" — are among the new titles whose release plans were changed by the House of Mouse in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with "Raya and the Last Dragon," "Black Widow," "Cruella," and the live-action "Mulan" remake also included in this group (via Deadline). A filmed performance of the immensely popular musical "Hamilton" premiered as a film on Disney+ in 2020 following earlier plans to release it in theaters, but it's unclear whether that would count as an original Disney+ film release, too. Until Disney decides to make any of their datapoints public, it's hard to say exactly what the "Turning Red" announcement means, but clearly, Pixar's newest effort has found a significant audience.