Last year, Disney revealed plans for its own streaming service, aiming at a 2019 launch. It only made sense—with such a huge vault of classic films, and the giant corporation acquiring more properties every day, why let another service make the money off streaming subscriptions when Disney could simply create its own? Disney has already started withdrawing its properties from services such as Netflix as a result. And unsurprisingly, a cornerstone of that prospective streaming service is the Star Wars universe, one of Disney’s crown jewels in terms of value. And none of those films are more valuable than the original Star Wars trilogy—A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
Except wait—you won’t actually be able to stream any of those films when the service launches next year. In fact, you may not be able to stream any of the original Star Wars trilogy until 2024, thanks to the head-scratching deal that Disney signed with Turner Broadcasting back in 2016. That deal, which allowed broadcasting of the original trilogy on TBS and TNT—as anyone with cable access would no doubt know—also included the streaming rights to the trilogy until 2024. And despite Disney’s efforts to buy back those rights, Turner seems to have no interest in letting them go. That also includes the streaming rights to the prequel trilogy, but let’s be real: That’s no great loss.
And so, unless Disney is able to come up with another offer in the next few years to change Turner’s mind, we could be looking at a long wait before you’re able to stream The Empire Strikes Back on a weekend afternoon. Hope you still have those DVDs or Blu-rays in your collection.
In the meantime, you can at least catch up on a lot of Paste’s recent Star Wars features, including our conflicted final thoughts on The Last Jedi, our ranking of every modern Star Wars comic, our essay on intolerance within the Star Wars fandom, and some thoughts on the sexuality of one Lando Calrissian.