There are many, many reasons to be jealous of our neighbor to the north. Canada has a great healthcare system, ready access to poutine and Tim Horton’s, and citizens who are generally very nice and friendly. Now we can add another, galactically important achievement to Canada’s list of enviable attributes: Star Wars: The Force Awakens will stream on Netflix in Canada and won’t here in the United States, at least not for a good long while, according to Variety. To quote a popular Star Wars line, “wellen that smell stink-o-whiff.”
The reason for this is everyone’s favorite trio of annoyances, contract agreements, licensing rights, and legal red tape. In the United States, Disney had signed a deal that first-dibs on all movies goes to the Starz cable channel until 2016. Since The Force Awakens comes out on December 18 of 2015, it falls under the contract with Starz and as such, the seventh film in the franchise will go exclusively to that premium cable channel. By contrast, in Canada, Disney’s deal with Netflix began in 2015, so the movie can go there for streaming subscribers beginning eight months after its theatrical debut.
Netflix and Disney have been in talks for some time about upcoming movies and in the States, that deal will begin with anything released after January 1, 2016. And in what’s surely a surprise to no one, Netflix is very keen to get the older Star Wars films on their service. Disney owns the rights to five out of the six existing films, with that little bugger A New Hope being owned by 20th Century Fox “in perpetuity” as per the original deal George Lucas signed in order to make the movie in 1977. Whether Disney will buy the rights to that movie (for likely a huge price tag) is yet to be seen. Probably will depend on how much money The Force Awakens makes in theaters, though that’s just a guess on my part.
Are any readers in Canada jumping for joy? Will any American fans get Starz specifically for this reason? Let us know in the comments below!
Kyle Anderson is the Weekend Editor and a film and TV critic for Nerdist.com. Follow him on Twitter!