The Force may not be with Disney when it comes to the broadcast rights for the Star Wars live-action movies. Which means that Disney’s upcoming streaming service may launch without any live-action Star Wars films.
In a 2016 deal that was inked before Disney planned its streaming service, AT&T owned Turner Broadcasting (TBS, TNT) currently has exclusive broadcast and streaming rights to all of the live-action Star Wars films through 2024.
And they may not be so eager to hand them back to Disney.
The “Star Wars’’ films are among the highest grossing in Hollywood, and content from the space saga figures to be a bedrock part of a new Disney streaming service that’s expected to debut next year. The company has said the service will include a catalog of movies and TV shows, as well as new, original programming such as a “Star Wars” TV series. It also wants the freedom to offer “Star Wars” movies on the service at will, one person said.
Disney sold certain rights to Turner in 2016, before it completed plans for the streaming service. The company has released four new Star Wars films since it acquired LucasFilm in 2012, and plans to release another in December 2019. Turner paid about $275 million for the six Star Wars movies released between 1977 and 2005, plus the newer titles.
In anticipation of the upcoming “Streaming War,” Disney has already terminated its contract with Netflix, which expires at the end of the year. It is expected that all Disney media will be exclusive to the upcoming Disney-owned streaming service.
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