‘Clouds’ Director Justin Baldoni Doesn’t Want People Risking Their Health to See Movies in Theaters

Madison Iseman, Sabrina Carpenter, Fin Argus, Neve Campbell, director Justin Baldoni and Tom Everett Scott arrives to the premiere of Disney+’s ‘Clouds’ at the Barker Hanger at the Santa Monica Airport in Santa Monica, California on October 12, 2020.
Michael Buckner/PMC

What started out pre-COVID-19 as a Warner Bros. theatrical teen inspirational drama, “Clouds,” became an early-acquisition feature film for Disney Plus, which begins streaming the movie on Oct. 16.

“Clouds” is based on the memoir of Laura Sobiech, whose son, Zach Sobiech, had a viral YouTube hit in late 2012 with “Clouds,” an easygoing, uplifting pop song that touched on the heavy themes of Zach’s mortality. Zach, 17, wrote and performed the song amid his battle with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer, which took his life in May 2013.

“Clouds” director Justin Baldoni co-financed “Clouds” with Warner Bros. under Baldoni’s production banner, Wayfarer Studios. When the film sat dormant earlier this year with theaters indefinitely closed or in flux, Baldoni says he bought the film’s portion owned by Warner Bros. and took “Clouds” to Disney, which bought distribution rights for Disney Plus.

“It was important to me, also as a studio owner and producer, to make the move from Warner Bros. to Disney with Warner Bros.’ love and support,” Baldoni told Variety at the drive-in premiere of “Clouds” on Monday night at Santa Monica’s Barker Hangar. “I didn’t want to wait and put this thing in theaters. This wasn’t a movie that I wanted anybody to risk their health for.”

Baldoni, who directed last year’s “Five Feet Apart” and starred in five seasons of “Jane the Virgin,” explained of the “Clouds” switch, “When Disney said that they wanted it, and it became their first-ever acquisition, I framed the email from Bob Iger. I think it was always meant to be. I believe that Zach has been guiding this process from the beginning. This movie was always supposed to be on Disney Plus. I just can’t imagine it ever going another way.”

Of Iger’s email, Baldoni said, “Bob said, ‘I can’t believe we didn’t make it. And congratulations. It’s a touching movie. We’d love to have it on our platform.’”

Neve Campbell, who plays Laura, agreed that Disney Plus is a perfect match for “Clouds.”

“I think Disney was really smart to pick up this film,” she told Variety. “I think it’s in keeping with what they’re trying to put out there into the world. This is a movie with a really positive message, good people, a good lesson and a great cast. I think they made a good choice. I’m just happy to be a part of the beginning of this, with Disney Plus.”

Campbell and Baldoni were joined at the premiere by cast members Fin Argus, Tom Everett Scott, Sabrina Carpenter and Madison Iseman. Guests included Jason Derulo, who had previously contributed to a musical tribute for Sobiech.