The original trilogy, released between 1977 and 1983, as well as the prequel trilogy that came out from 1999 to 2005, will join the Disney streaming fold after being at Turner. Also destined for Disney+ is the JJ Abrams-directed Episode VII — The Force Awakens, spinoff Rogue One, and the upcoming franchise capper, the yet-unnamed Episode IX. Solo, the Han Solo spinoff that famously lost money when it was released in 2018 before migrating to Netflix, was not mentioned during Kennedy’s remarks.
Kennedy made the announcement during Disney’s Investor Day, as a raft of details about the company’s streaming plans were revealed. At the time she spoke, the pricing and launch date for the service had not been revealed.
The consolidation move is an eye-opener given Turner’s longtime control of several Star Wars installments. In 2016, the companies set a deal that included basic-cable rights to 10 Star Wars films. The value of that deal was estimated at $250 million over a seven-year term. Many Wall Street analysts had raised Turner’s stake in the franchise as a potential stumbling block for Disney. It had been rumored for months that Disney was trying to negotiate a deal with Turner to get the Star Wars movie titles back sooner in order to have them on Disney+.
With Disney hungry to consolidate the offering and avoid any embarrassment of not having a comprehensive offering, one viable scenario is that it made an attractive offer to AT&T-owned WarnerMedia. While WarnerMedia is preparing a streaming service of its own, it has opted to license certain titles such as the Warner Bros.-produced Friends. When contacted by Deadline, a WarnerMedia rep declined to comment.
“It’s remarkable to think that Episode IX will represent the culmination of what George Lucas began 40 years ago with the Skywalker saga,” Kennedy said. Characters from the films “populate a mythology that has impacted audiences throughout multiple generations.”