Struggling ‘Star Wars’ Franchise Moves Away From Disney+

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Grogu shocked in 'The Mandalorian'

Credit: Lucasfilm

Fresh off the disappointing response to Ahsoka, Star Wars is set to find new homes beyond Disney+.

While it’s been 46 years since George Lucas may have introduced us to a galaxy far, far away, Disney’s history with the franchise only started in 1986. After deciding the Disney Parks were in dire need of a refresh, Disney’s former CEO, Michael Eisner, turned to Lucas (who’d recently worked with Disney to create Captain EO) to conceptualize a new attraction named Star Tours.

A family walks through Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland
Credit: Disney

Related: ‘Star Wars’ Is More Popular Than Marvel, According to Disney+ Data

Fast forward 26 years, and after decades of a close bond with Lucasfilm, The Walt Disney Company purchased the studio. This kicked off a whole new era of Star Wars content under the Disney banner – including the extremely divisive sequel trilogy.

Despite mixed responses to The Force Awakens (2015), The Last Jedi (2017), and Rise of Skywalker (2019), Disney doubled down on its commitment to Star Wars after wrapping up the trilogy. Since the launch of Disney+, it’s produced multiple Star Wars TV shows, including The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu in 'The Mandalorian'
Credit: Lucasfilm

Both the films and these shows have all had an exclusive home on Disney+. Disney’s streaming platform has relied heavily on Star Wars IP to get the service off the ground.

However, that hasn’t always been to its benefit. As Disney CEO Bob Iger himself acknowledged earlier this year, Disney has pumped out perhaps too much Star Wars content in recent years.

Audience fatigue is at an all-time high. Not to mention, the fandom is divided over some recent creative decisions taken on Star Wars projects, such as a decline in lightsaber choreography and poor characterization.

Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) fighting in 'Ahsoka'
Credit: Lucasfilm

Audiences had mixed responses to the most recent series, Ahsoka. Starring Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano, the former Padawan to Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), the finale left fans polarized, with one going so far as to declare, “God, Disney is making it hard to be a Star Wars fan.”

Combined with the increasingly negative sentiment towards Disney+, its hefty price hikes, and an exodus of subscribers over the past few months, there’s a lot of tension around Disney and Star Wars right now.

That’s why the latest news may not be entirely bad. Starting this month, you can find Star Wars content on more outlets than ever. The films are now available on Disney’s linear networks, such as ABC, FX, and Freeform, starting with a marathon of the original trilogy on FX that aired on October 7. This came after a reworked licensing agreement between Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery’s Turner Networks.

Rey screaming Chewie in 'The Rise of Skywalker'
Credit: Lucasfilm

Related: Multiple Changes Made to Original ‘Star Wars’ Movies on Disney+

Deadline reports that Disney’s seven-year licensing deal for the original and prequel trilogy – all of which were made prior to its acquisition of Lucasfilm – expired in September. The new films each have deals that expire over the next few years.

Turner Networks closed a $250 million deal with Disney in 2016 to gain the licensing rights for 10 Star Wars films, including the likes of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016). Disney allegedly tried (and failed) to repurchase the rights for linear cable and ad-supported streaming in 2019 after launching Disney+.

Daisy Ridley as Rey Skywalker in 'Star Wars: Episode IX -- The Rise of Skywalker' (2019)
Credit: Lucasfilm

Both parties ultimately reached an agreement that allowed Turner Networks to retain the linear rights while Disney+ retained streaming rights.

The bottom line is that more eyes are about to fall on Star Wars than ever. For those reluctant to purchase (or renew) a Disney+ subscription, the options to watch Star Wars will now include TBS, TNT, Freeform, FX, and ABC. Sustaining fan interest in the Star Wars universe is tough right now, but offloading some of that pressure off Disney+ is one way to give it “a new hope” for the future.

How do you feel about the current state of the ‘Star Wars’ franchise? Let us know in the comments!

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