Variety reports that Disney began pitching the free TV rights – technically basic cable – on the Star Wars films last week, for all three trilogies. The asking price on is claimed to be “high” – even for the “vintage” titles. Movie rights are worth less and less to networks these days, but Star Wars seems to be an exception.
Spike TV held the Star Wars rights through 2014, paying $65-$70 million for six years and six films. The Indiana Jones films went for about $25M each in 2008.
Cable outlets who have met or are meeting with Disney include Turner, FX Networks, Viacom, NBCUniversal (which owns SyFy, which aired A New Hope when it first launched as the Sci-Fi Channel and USA Network, who had the rights to the original trilogy in the 90s,) A+E Networks and AMC Networks.
Variety cites speculation that the pitches to outside networks may be Disney’s way of seeing “what the market will bear” – aka covering their ass – before settling the rights on one of their own networks. (I’ve been expecting the films will indeed show up on Freeform.)
The Force Awakens will debut on Starz next year as the last film under the channel’s deal with Disney. TFA likely won’t show up on basic cable until 2018, while Episode VIII and IX will go to Netflix first under Disney’s current deal with the streaming service.
The first six Star Wars movies are getting yet another Blu-ray makeover. The limited edition commemorative steelbooks look neat, but it doesn’t seem like they’ll have any new content. The ‘Complete Saga’ collection is also getting a facelift for re-release.
The steelbooks will be available for preorder on August 7 for a November 10 release, and the Complete Saga collection of all six films (so far) will drop on October 13.
May is the month of Star Wars birthdays, of course, and Wednesday was the 35th anniversary of the release of The Empire Strikes Back. Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich took the opportunity to write the lesson nobody learned from Empire Strikes Back – that the small and personal is what makes the film succeed, not the dark and twisty.
The U.S. can now get the Star Wars films in digital formats, and while Han doesn’t shoot first, there is one noticeable change… A new Lucasfilm fanfare replaces the 20th Century Fox one on all the movies save A New Hope. (Which, as we all know, Fox has distribution rights to in perpetuity.) Is this what we can expect on The Force Awakens? Almost certainly.
“In casting Han, the most important thing is: Who has the most interesting, ironic approach to life? And when I think of that, I think of Ellen Page. She’s a small human being who has the energy to fill Madison Square Garden.”
The Empire live-read, which also features Aaron Paul as Luke, takes place tonight at the Ace Hotel Theater in Los Angeles – and it’s already sold out.
Director Jason Reitman is staging a live-read of The Empire Strikes Back tomorrow night in Los Angeles. The line-up includes Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul as Luke Skywalker, J.K. Simmons as Darth Vader, Stephen Merchant as C-3PO, Dennis Haysbert as Lando Calrissian and Kevin Pollak as Yoda.
But who’ll be playing Han and Leia? Hoping for some surprises…