Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed that the studio's long-awaited streaming service will feature all Star Wars movies produced after 2019, but none of the movies that came before. This news doesn't come as much of a surprise, since Disney sold the streaming rights to the first six movies to Turner Broadcasting in 2016, for $275 million, which remains in effect until 2024. Disney has been trying to re-obtain those Star Wars rights from Turner, but talks have reportedly stalled after Turner rejected Disney's initial inquiry.
That deal with Turner, which was made before Disney's plans for their own streaming service were developed, does not include any of the films Disney has produced. These include 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 2016's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, 2017's Star Wars: The Last Jedi, this year's Solo: A Star Wars Story, or the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX, which recently started production. However, Disney still has a deal in place with Netflix for the streaming rights to all of the Disney-era Star Wars movies, which will ultimately result in the Star Wars films split between three separate entities, once the Disney streaming service launches.
Disney CEO Bob Iger told Variety that the "marketing will make it clear" that any Star Wars movie released before 2019 will not be included on their streaming service, but added that, "Star Wars movies that come out in 2019 and later, you’ll find them there." While an exact launch date has not yet been confirmed, Iger did state that the service would launch sometime in late 2019. The launch could coincide with the theatrical release of Star Wars: Episode IX, currently slated for release in December 2019.
With well over a year until the currently-unnamed Disney streaming service is set to launch, there is still more than enough time for a surprise deal to be hammered out that puts all of these beloved movies under one roof, so to speak. Still, Turner is said to want much more value than what Disney is currently offering, and there is no indication yet if Disney is also trying to wrest the new movies back from Netflix too. While it's known where these future movies in a galaxy far, far away will ultimately land, there isn't much known about the studio's future Star Wars slate, aside from a reported Boba Fett movie in development with James Mangold.
Disney is also developing a new live-action TV series with Jon Favreau, which will reportedly cost upwards of $100 million for the 10-episode first season, for the streaming service. While this show, and future movies may be enough for most fans to hand over their money for a subscription, there may still be fans who will hold off until the entire franchise can be found in one place. Whether or not that will ever happen remains unclear, but it seems Disney is trying to make this a reality, as indicated by their recent talks with Turner. Whether this beloved galaxy finds one home or three in this new era of streaming, there will certainly be no shortage of demand for Star Wars.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019