Disney+ has refreshed its home-page look for the first time since launching last November, paying tribute to conceptual designer and illustrator Ralph McQuarrie’s classic Star Wars images.
The promotion, which took effect Friday morning, as a leadup to May 4 (as in, “May the Fourth be with you”). The annual celebration of the saga this year will also include the streaming debut of the ninth and final installment in the main George Lucas-derived franchise, The Rise of Skywalker.
The on-demand and streaming debut of last December’s release was accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen a surge in streaming viewership. Disney now has streaming rights to the full Star Wars catalog, including spinoffs and animated projects, and has begun mining it for new originals like The Mandalorian, the flagship show for Disney+.
McQuarrie, who died in 2012, also gained fame for his work on Battlestar Galactica, E.T. and Cocoon. Early in his career, he secured his place in the sci-fi annals with a painting of droids in the desert in 1975, which was two years before the first Star Wars film was released. On Disney+, that painting will be prominently positioned in a new feature enabling viewers to navigate to a dedicated brand page directly from a home-page carousel image. The brand page also has an adaption of character art from a 2019 commemorative mural by Jason Palmer and other artists.
On May 4, the takeover will continue, with artwork for each film and series updated to feature its original concept paintings.
Disney has been laying the groundwork for the past couple of years for its direct-to-consumer streaming efforts, reclaiming films like the Star Wars franchise and Pixar’s catalog from Netflix. Disney+ has surpassed 50 million subscribers, the company recently announced, and has been rolling out internationally. The company is expected to provide more updates on the service next week when it reports quarterly earnings.
Here are some more of the McQuarrie images featured on Disney+: