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Pixar’s ‘Turning Red’ Comes Home for Canadian Premiere in Toronto

From Left: Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Domee Shi, and Lindsey Collins. George Pimentel / Disney.

After having its world premiere March 2 at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, Pixar’s 25th feature film, Turning Red, brought its star power to Toronto on Tuesday night for what can only be described as an epic homecoming.

Taking over the five-storey TIFF Bell Lightbox (the year-round home of the Toronto International Film Festival), the film was introduced by some of its major talent: director Domee Shi; producer Lindsey Collins; and stars Rosalie Chiang (voice of Mei), Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (Priya), and Sandra Oh (Ming).

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in a pre-recorded video message. Author’s photo.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau genuinely surprised the talent with a pre-recorded message congratulating them on the occasion. To which someone on stage chimed in to Shi: ‘Now your parents know what you do.’

Talent reaction to the PM’s message. George Pimentel / Disney.

Shi’s parents, Shi Le and Ningsha Zhong, and her aunt and uncle were in the audience to watch the film for the first time—thumbs up all around. Speaking with her dad before the show, he agreed that they are indeed over the moon. (Well yeah.)

The film was followed by a Q&A with TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey, who shared his enthusiasm for Toronto finally playing itself in a major release after decades of doubling for other cities on screen.

TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey. George Pimentel / Disney.

Turning Red was—cliché or not—even better the second time around, in no small part because of the big screen presentation.

The logic behind sending the film straight to streaming on Disney+ may be understandable, but as I wrote in my review, it’s unfortunate that most won’t get to experience it at this level anytime soon.

(There is an extremely limited engagement in three U.S. cinemas beginning Friday: the El Capitan; the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland; and the AMC Empire 25 in New York City.)

On the bright side, home theatres are better than ever. And after some difficult days of social isolation watching a movie at home with friends is certainly a treat. (Affordable too. Disney+ continues to offer excellent value compared with other stream.)

Still, I know I’ll feel compelled to offer a hearty Canadian apology when telling folks I saw Turning Red on the silver screen. Sorry. Sorry.

Turning Red streams on Disney+ beginning this Friday, March 11, 2022.