Which Star Wars movies will be available on Disney+ at launch and which ones will be added at a later date? After George Lucas' original and prequel trilogies established Star Wars as arguably the biggest movie franchise of all time, Disney swooped in to purchase Lucasfilm and the Star Wars rights in October of 2012. Since then, the Mouse House has put its own stamp on the property, releasing a sequel trilogy, launching standalone spinoffs and reworking (or, indeed, erasing) the Star Wars expanded universe.
Disney is set to debut its own in-house streaming platform on November 12th and the Star Wars franchise will form a significant part of the initial batch of available content. Most notably, one of the original Disney+ productions will be Jon Favreau's The Mandalorian; a bounty-hunter series that derives from the ill-fated Boba Fett movie. This highly-anticipated, groundbreaking series is arguably Disney+'s biggest day-one draw in terms of fresh material.
The good news for Star Wars fans is that, between the various movies and TV shows available from the get-go, there will be plenty of content coming from the galaxy far, far away when subscribers first log on. However, there are also a handful of glaring omissions missing from the roster. When will Disney+ find balance in the Force, and complete its Star Wars collection?
Which Star Wars Films Are Available On Disney+ At Launch?
Unlike Disney+'s selection of Marvel content, the Star Wars franchise is very well represented in the streaming service's opening lineup. The entire original trilogy will be available, meaning fans can relive A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Since rumors of Disney releasing the unaltered 1970s/1980s theatrical cuts of these classics remain abound, it's not absolutely confirmed which versions of the original trilogy will be uploaded, but the 2015 re-release looks incredibly likely. This is the only edit presided over by Disney and is virtually unchanged from the 2011 edit. Star Wars purists will continue campaigning for the release of the original cut, free from George Lucas' meddling.
With the Star Wars prequel trilogy gaining a more positive reevaluation in 2019, it's fortunate that The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith will also be included on Disney+, allowing the prequel love to continue into the next decade. For those interested in more modern fare, J. J. Abrams' The Force Awakens will be included among the initial Star Wars titles. Lastly, Disney's first Star Wars spinoff movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, will also be available. Despite a troubled production, the prequel was well-received by fans and critics.
Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
The most recent entry into the main Star Wars series proved to be a highly divisive affair, as Rian Johnson took the franchise in a bold, new direction. While many fans enjoyed the fresh elements added in The Last Jedi, others didn't appreciate the non-traditional approach, including Mark Hamill, who was famously skeptical about Luke Skywalker's arc in the movie.
Unfortunately, The Force Awakens will be the sole Disney+ inclusion from the current trilogy, with The Last Jedi currently absent from the listed content. While disappointing, this omission is in keeping with the Disney+ release schedule as a whole, which doesn't include many major movies released theatrically within the past two years. Premiering in December 2017, The Last Jedi just about falls into this category, but this apparent two-year cutoff period isn't just a self-imposed limit from Disney. The Last Jedi is actually still subject to a streaming agreement between Disney and Netflix.
The Last Jedi dropped on Netflix in June 2018 and although the specifics of these deals aren't always in the public domain, the terms between Disney and Netflix are reported to last for a period of 18 months. This means that The Last Jedi should arrive on Disney+ in December 2019 at the earliest, although early 2020 may be preferable to avoid clashing with the theatrical release of The Rise of Skywalker. Furthermore, Disney have confirmed that ALL Star Wars movies will be available on the service within a year of launch - by November 2020.
It might seem odd from an outside perspective that both The Last Jedi and Solo, two of the most fan-splitting entries in Disney's Star Wars canon, are both absent from Disney+'s launch roster, however, this is merely a coincidence. Solo was plagued with even more behind-the-scenes upheaval than Rogue One, but was unable to garner as positive a response, attracting lukewarm reviews and disappointing box office takings. These issues effectively put the brakes on plans for future spinoffs featuring Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Like The Last Jedi, Han Solo's standalone spinoff venture is currently subject to a streaming arrangement with Netflix but, since it premiered in theaters more recently, will likely take longer to work its way onto Disney's own platform. Solo's theatrical release came in May 2018, and the film skidded onto Netflix the following January. Assuming Han and Chewie's deal is a similar length to that of The Last Jedi, Solo's tenure on Netflix (or the "Dark Side" as Disney presumably now calls it) should come to an end in mid-2020. If Disney's claim that all Star Wars movies will be available to stream within a year can be trusted, Solo will be added to Disney+ in 2020, sometime between June and November.
Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise Of Skywalker (2019)
The long-awaited final installment in the Star Wars sequel trilogy is set for release on December 19th, 2019 and will obviously not be included on Disney+ either at launch, or in the immediate aftermath. Fortunately, The Rise of Skywalker will at least be free of any restrictive contracts with competing streaming networks, and can move directly to Disney+ instead of being featured elsewhere first, speeding up the process considerably. Once Disney+ launches, plans for future releases will reportedly be structured so that movies make their streaming debut approximately 4 months after releasing on home media.
For The Rise of Skywalker, this would mean a December 2019 theatrical premiere, a home media release in March 2020 (based on the time frame used by The Last Jedi) and a Disney+ appearance in July. Once again, this would adhere to Disney's promise of adding every Star Wars film to its platform within a year of launch, but would also mean that The Rise of Skywalker and Solo may be added in relatively quick succession.
After the departure of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss from the franchise, the future of Star Wars remains fairly uncertain at present, with Kevin Feige's project still active and Rian Johnson possibly still involved somewhere along the way. Whatever lies ahead for Star Wars, however, at least Disney+ will host the entire epic saga and all of its spinoffs in one place.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019