Don’t expect Star Wars: Episode X (aka A New Return of the Oh, of Course, We’re Doing More of These After IX Strikes Back) to drop on Disney’s massive upcoming subscription service before it heads to theaters. Why would you?
Disney CEO Bob Iger was asked about the possibility of seeing future film entries in the Star Wars saga—from potential mainline episodes in a post-Skywalker-saga world, to Star Wars Story entries, to projects like Rian Johnson’s trilogy or the Benioff/Weiss films—on Disney+ in a wide-ranging interview for Barrons recently. Specifically, not if these films will eventually show up on the on-demand service (they will, and Disney is still chasing after the rights to stream all the other Star Wars films so far to ensure it can has those, too), but if they will, Netflix style, debut exclusively on Disney+ before heading into theaters.
His answer can pretty much be seen as a more politely-filtered version of “hahaha, what? No.”
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.
Sure, Disney+ is going to be a huge thing for the company—and it’s ensuring that by offering up tempting TV ideas that pull from its movie franchises, like The Mandalorian and the Cassian Andor show from Star Wars, or Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen leaping over from the MCU for the Loki and Scarlet Witch TV shows, respectively. But Disney loves money way too much to ever throw away the opening box office weekend of a Star Wars movie—which takes hundreds of millions of dollars to make, on a scale unlike any of these other shows—on a subscription service.
That extra layer of access, no matter how slight (and one that is down to the whims of just which countries will have access to Disney+ following its U.S. rollout later this year) inherently creates a barrier to entry for people. One not even the power of the Force would be able to overcome, in a way that “go to a theater and purchase a ticket for one star war” doesn’t have. Disney would much rather have the media pomp and circumstance of dominating the news cycle and a box office weekend over the chance to push Disney+ to people—and clearly, it’s got plenty of other ways to push the service for now.