Disney has no plans to release Star Wars movies directly to Disney+

Ever since Disney announced plans for their own streaming service that would include new content, people have wondered whether there would be the possibility of releasing a new Star Wars film direct to this streaming service, which will be named Disney+ and will debut in late 2019.

The answer to that, however, is no.  Disney has no plans for releasing a new Star Wars films directly to this platform, as those films are too much of a big deal.  In a recent interview with Barron’s, Disney CEO Bob Iger had this to say regarding the decision between releasing to theaters versus straight to streaming:

Some of it is easy.  Our studio makes between eight and 10 movies a year, and they’re big budget, hopefully big box-office films, that really belong, we believe, on the big screen.  We’re not looking to take one of those and put it on this platform.  When we made the announcement, we said we’re going to make original movies for the platform.  A number of ideas were pitched.  Other than one, which was being contemplated for the big screen but wasn’t a big movie, none of them were in development as big-screen movies.  One of them that we’re making for the platform is a remake of Lady and the Tramp.  There was not one discussion about whether we should make that for the big screen.  Everybody said this is a great story, would love to make it again, let’s make it for what we call “the service” internally.

Almost every movie the studio makes is a $100 million-plus movie, and we’re not looking to make movies at that level for the service.  We’re looking to invest significantly in television series on a per-episode business, and we’re looking to make movies that are higher budget, but nothing like that.  We wouldn’t make a Star Wars movie for this platform.  When everybody goes out on the weekend and you have a movie that opens up to $200 million, there’s a buzz that creates that enhances value.  We like that.  And eventually the movies we’re making are going to [end up on] the service.

So there you have it, and Bob Iger stated it pretty clearly: “We wouldn’t make a Star Wars movie for this platform.”  That’s about as obvious as he could make it, and his reasoning makes plenty of sense: with the money Disney puts into Star Wars and with the reception that comes with a new Star Wars film hitting theaters (which is a cultural event), it doesn’t make sense to develop a new Star Wars film and forgo the theater experience.  That’s not to say that there will never be a Star Wars movie released directly to a streaming service, but it is to say pretty definitively that there are no plans to do that.

That doesn’t mean that there won’t be new Star Wars content for Disney+, however – far from it!  Two live-action TV shows, The Mandalorian and the currently untitled Cassian Andor show, will both debut directly to the Disney+ service, while the seventh season of The Clone Wars will as well.  That is plenty to make it more than worth it for Star Wars fans.  In that Barron’s interview, Iger did acknowledge that while they could have developed the Star Wars live-action TV series for ABC, they felt it was a better fit to have it be a part of the Disney+ service.  I’ve thought all along that it makes sense to do it that way, since it will likely be a significant draw that will help them get subscribers right away.  It’s one thing if you simply put up content that many people have already seen before, but it’s another thing if you release brand new content only available to subscribers.

So we’ll be getting plenty of new Star Wars content on Disney+ and I’m super excited about it, but we won’t be getting new Star Wars movies to debut on this platform – and I think that’s absolutely the right decision and the best way to go about it.

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