Disney in Talks to License ‘Star Wars’ Films to Netflix in Latin America – Wall Street Journal
Walt Disney Co. is in talks with Netflix Inc. to put the five “Star Wars” movies it controls on the digital streaming service in Latin America, said people with knowledge of the discussions.
The deal could boost awareness of the franchise in a region where theater construction and total box-office receipts have boomed since the release of the most recent “Star Wars” live-action film in 2005.
Disney acquired rights to five of the six existing “Star Wars” movies when it acquired Lucasfilm Ltd. for $4 billion in 2012. Twentieth Century Fox, part of 21st Century Fox,
controls rights to the 1977 original. For that movie to go on Netflix in Latin America, the streaming giant would have to make a separate deal with Fox.
In the U.S. and much of Europe, awareness of “Star Wars” is already high and there is a robust market to buy movies on discs and online. As a result, Disney isn’t as likely to make “Star Wars” films available on subscription video-on-demand services such as Netflix in those regions soon.
Instead, it has been focused on selling digital copies of its catalog of “Star Wars” films through services such as Apple Inc.
’s iTunes for as much as $20 each, a more lucrative proposition than selling rights to Netflix.
Disney’s highest priority, however, is boosting awareness of the franchise ahead of the debut of “The Force Awakens” in December in order to sell tickets and associated consumer products.
On Monday, Disney and Fox announced a deal with Tencent Holdings Ltd.
of China to make the first six “Star Wars” films available to stream online in that country, where the movie market has also grown tremendously in the past decade and awareness of the sci-fi series isn’t as high as it is in more established markets.
Write to Ben Fritz at firstname.lastname@example.org
Corrections & Amplifications
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will be available in the U.S. on the Starz pay-cable network under an agreement that covers theatrical releases through the end of 2015. A prior version of this article incorrectly said “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will be available on Netflix. (Sept. 17, 2015)