Basically, Disney wants to alter the deal. And it’s hoping that American TV is praying it doesn’t want to alter it any further.
Back in 2016, when the idea of Disney setting up its own rival to Netflix was but a mere twinkle in Bob Iger’s massively wealthy eye, Disney capitalised on its acquisition of Lucasfilm and the Star Wars brand by selling the TV and online broadcast rights to every current Star Wars film to the US-based TV megacorporation Turner Broadcasting, a common extra revenue stream for movie studios. For $275 million (£211 million), Turner got the rights to exclusively air every Star Wars movie (save for A New Hope, which involved Turner negotiating a separate deal with Fox, who still own distribution rights for the movie, although not for long!), including Disney’s then-future productions, on both television and their own online services until 2024.
And then Disney decided it wanted its own streaming service, and turns out having your billions-of-dollars-earning sci-fi/fantasy franchise on such a service would be really nice as a motivator to get people to sign up to their hojillionth subscription service. But Turner is allegedly playing hardball to stop Disney reneging on their deal.
Bloomberg reports that initial offers from Disney about potentially getting the Star Wars rights back from Turner were met with resistance, because, after all, there’s still another six years left of what is a very lucrative deal for the network. Bloomberg alleges that “financial considerations and programming” would have to play a part in any deal in which Turner gives the Star Wars rights over earlier than 2024, and given that Disney has very recently proved that it’s willing to drop insane amounts of cash to get what it wants, it’s perhaps likely to assume that a future expensive deal will be made to ensure it can tout exclusive access to the galaxy far, far away when its streaming service launches next year.
If they don’t, it’s not like there won’t be any Star Wars on the still-untitled service, anyway. We know Clone Wars’ surprise farewell season will be airing there, as will Jon Favreau’s Star Wars show, along with the host of other potential Star Wars series that are apparently in the works. But this is just the first stage of negotiations—don’t be surprised if Disney gets all Padmé Amidala on this to ensure that they have all their Star Wars rights in place for next year. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? [h/t Syfy Wire]