Disney is rumored to be in talks with Netflix to stream Star Wars films in an attempt to build brand awareness for The Force Awakens, as film industry experts predict a strong opening for the film, which comes to box offices December 18.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Walt Disney Co. is currently in talks to stream five Star Wars films on Netflix in Latin America ahead of the film’s opening in an effort to increase recognition of the franchise in the region, which has seen increased theater construction and audience participation since the most recent Star Wars live action film was released in 2005.
“Disney’s highest priority is boosting awareness of the franchise ahead of the debut of The Force Awakens in order to sell tickets and associated consumer products.”
This part of the Latin American deal reportedly would not include the original Star Wars film, which was released in 1977, because it is owned by Twentieth Century Fox, but would include the other five films already released in the series, which Disney purchased from Lucasfilm Ltd. for $2 billion in 2012.
Still, last Monday saw Disney and Fox teaming up to ink a new deal with Tencent Holdings, Ltd. that will make all six of the existing Star Wars films available to stream online in China. The move aims to increase awareness of the franchise throughout the region, which has also experienced significant growth in its movie market over the last ten years.
Although Disney did not confirm or deny that it was in talks to stream Star Wars online, the International Business Times reported that Netflix had issued a nonspecific reply to the press, stating with ambiguity that “there are no official plans to bring Star Wars to Netflix.”
This denial came despite the fact that streaming website Extreamist uncovered convincing evidence that all six Star Wars movies have dedicated placeholder pages that are ready and waiting on Netflix for all subscribers to enjoy once the titles are uploaded to the site. Still, because demand for Star Wars is already high and a robust market already exists to buy the films in the U.S. and Europe, many believe Disney is unlikely to make them available for streaming in these regions anytime soon.
Here’s a screenshot from a personal Netflix account showing the page for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, just in case they are deleted or hidden from view at some point.
In addition, Cinema Blend reported that Netflix and Disney signed a contract back in 2012, scheduled to go into effect in 2016, that will “inevitably see titles like Star Wars: Rogue One, Star Wars: Episode VIII and more hosted on Netflix in the future.” Of course, sales of Star Wars movies and merchandise will undoubtedly increase over the holiday season due to the Netflix denial, providing a potential motive behind the secrecy.
As for the impending release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Forbes film industry contributor Scott Mendelson reported this week that a debut of between $125 and $150 million wouldn’t shock him, despite the fact that these numbers are higher than what’s “normal” for films that are released in December.
[Photo from Wikimedia]