It seems like Star Wars Day has always been around, at least as long as the films at any rate. Yet, the holiday is a relatively recent invention and based on a pun. It wasn’t until the early days of social media that “May the fourth be with you” became a popular catchphrase among fans. Since then, Lucasfilm embraced the date as an official Star Wars holiday. (Sorry, Life Day.) This year, Disney will bring Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to Disney+ on May the 4th, earlier than intended.
What makes this something of a big deal is that this marks the first time, ever, that fans can stream the entire saga in one place. Until Disney+, even the prequel and original trilogies never shared a streaming service, save for digital retailers. (Even the digital folks are encouraged to re-purchase the entire saga, as it’s now offered in 4K resolution for the first time.) Still, Disney makes a smart move by brining the film to the streaming service early. Even though this wasn’t the huge moneymaker Disney hoped for, nothing is going to stop Star Wars fans from buying the films over and over again. Bringing Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to Disney+ on May the 4th just gives people who wouldn’t buy it a chance to see the film absent the context of hype.
In the Star Wars universe, things are different. For example, a profitable movie like Solo: A Star Wars Story can be considered an utter flop. The latest film made about $300 million in a year where Disney’s films almost had to compete with each other. Still, it’s a “failure” in the eyes of some because Star Wars is supposed to make billions of dollars.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Hitting Disney+ On May the 4th Already Worked for Disney
Image via Lucasfilm
Once the news of the film’s early release to Disney’s streaming service, social media lit up. Fans shared memes, fan art, and their favorite Star Wars memories. Some of these tweets will appear in a video or other media from Disney+ celebrating the Star Wars saga. For most of Monday, “May the 4th” became a top trending topic on Twitter. People just love talking (and, of course, arguing) about Star Wars.
This gives us some insight into Disney’s priorities during the shutdown brought on by the novel coronavirus outbreak. By bringing the film to Disney+, people can subscribe to get all of the Star Wars films in one place rather than renting or buying them piecemeal. This may cut into the home video sales for The Rise of Skywalker. Yet, Disney seems to be banking on the idea that the people who are going to buy this movie will buy it, regardless. If there are people who might have purchased the movie rather than wait for streaming, it encourages them to subscribe to Disney+ instead.
The main battle in the Streaming Wars is all about subscriptions. So, it appears that Disney would rather encourage people to spend on those rather than on home video releases. It’s entertainment as a service rather than a product. And, subscription services are one of the few businesses seeing an increase in profits during this time of pandemic.
What do you think? Will bringing Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to Disney+ on May the 4th hurt home video sales? If not, do you think this is something unique to Star Wars or is it a model for other franchises that see box office receipts in decline? Tell us what you think below.
Featured image via Lucasfilm
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.