You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again and maybe you’ll hear it out of your own mouth:
“I’ll watch the new [BLANK] movie when it’s out on Netflix.”
In the streaming era, the theatrical run can feel like a hurdle, a burden, or just an impossibility for a certain schedule (parents of young children know what’s up). So the question of wanting to know when a movie “hits Netflix” isn’t uncalled for or uncouth. But in the case of The Rise of Skywalker, it’s the wrong question. J.J. Abrams Episode IX will be the first Star Wars movie to debut exclusively on Disney Plus in 2020.
Why Rise of Skywalker won’t hit Netflix (but other Star Wars film live there)
With Lucasfilm under the wing of the Walt Disney Corporation, that pipeline may seem obvious, but it’s only until recently that Disney gained back the right to premiere its theatrical releases on the newly launched streaming service.
In 2012, shortly after George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney, the mega-corporation made another landmark deal: the company’s tentpole films would stream on Netflix. The partnership began in 2016, when Marvel movies and Disney’s animated features started popping up on the service. But by April 2017, Disney announced that the deal wouldn’t be renewed. Disney Plus was in the works, even if it wouldn’t be announced for months.
The agreement doesn’t allow Disney to just reclaim every movie from the last few years. In fact, The Last Jedi remains on Netflix despite the rest of the Skywalker Saga finding a streaming home on Disney Plus. Because of the deal, any Disney movies made between 2016 and 2018 are Netflix’s home-video property. Mary Poppins Returns is the last of the licensed features, and according to Disney Plus’ save page, the service will only regain the title in January 2021.
But there’s another twist: all of the movies in the Disney-Netflix window will be back on Netflix in 2026, according to a report by Bloomberg. At some point, we’re going to need a Sith wayfinder to keep track of these things.
When can you expect Rise of Skywalker on Disney Plus? In January, both Aladdin and The Lion King will premiere on the service about six months after their theatrical releases. By that logic, prepare for endless Episode IX rewatches in June 2020.