As Disney brings us new Star Wars, it can’t stream the originals until 2024
A little under a year ago, news broke that Disney was planning its own streaming service for a 2019 launch. The logic from Disney’s perspective is hard to avoid: why let someone else get rich streaming its content? Between Disney’s vast back catalog of animated features plus the Star Wars and Marvel franchises, it’s got a lot of greatest hits, after all. A month later it was therefore no surprise when it revealed it would not renew a deal with Netflix that has allowed the latter to stream some of the biggest blockbusters of the decade.
But there’s a snag to this plan, as is often the case when intellectual property is at stake. On Thursday afternoon, Bloomberg reported that in 2016, when Disney sold the TV broadcast rights for the original Star Wars films to Turner Broadcasting, it also sold it the streaming rights. Until 2024. And the AT&T-owned broadcaster has no desire to give them back early—at least not at a price that the House of Mouse considers palatable.
That’s somewhat of a blow for Disney. The Star Wars franchise features heavily in what we know so far about its plans for the streaming service, with live action and animated series already in the works. But for the first five years of its existence, it won’t be able to stream any of the first six Star Wars films themselves.