When The Walt Disney Company’s new direct-to-consumer streaming service launches, they are going to want a full roster of all their most popular intellectual property at their disposal to entice viewers. It seems that with the Star Wars franchise, they’ve caught themselves in a bit of a bind.
According to Bloomberg sources, Disney has recently made an inquiry with Turner Broadcasting about regaining the rights to Star Wars films. In 2016, the rights to broadcast the franchise films both old and new on their cable networks — including TNT and TBS — and online was sold to Turner for around $275 million. This deal extends until 2024.
If Turner were to entertain the idea of selling Star Wars back to Disney, one of Bloomberg’s “people familiar with the matter” says, they would require compensation through “financial considerations and programming to replace the lost films.”
The Star Wars franchise has become one of Disney’s most profitable intellectual properties, and when their streaming service launches in late 2019 they’ll want full use of that content. It was announced last year that the direct-to-consumer service would feature a live-action series set in the “galaxy far, far away,” and just recently a renewed Star Wars: The Clone Wars was confirmed to return on the service.
The practice of studios selling broadcast rights to cable providers once their films leave theaters isn’t uncommon, but as major media companies look to compete with the likes of Netflix by creating their own streaming services, deals like this will continue to become obstacles. Disney already decided not to renew a deal with Netflix which gave the digital content provider rights to new releases and expires at the end of this year.
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