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Star Wars films are too big to debut on Disney+, but Bob Iger's got other movie plans for the service

By Benjamin Bullard
Star Wars The Mandalorian via official website 2019

Even though Disney’s willing to open its wallet to put more than one Star Wars series in the cockpit for its Disney+ streaming launch, the galaxy far, far away is apparently too big for a feature-length Star Wars movie ever to make its first appearance on the small screen.

In a far-ranging interview with Barrons, Disney CEO Bob Iger said it makes sense to spend big on an episodic Star Wars adventure show like The Mandalorian to anchor its hugely anticipated new subscription platform. But big-budget Star Wars films, he said, will always be reserved for the theater first — and television only later.

“Almost every movie the studio makes is a $100 million-plus movie, and we’re not looking to make movies at that level for the service,” Iger said.  “We’re looking to invest significantly in television series on a per-episode business, and we’re looking to make movies that are higher-budget, but nothing like that,” he added, citing the upcoming remake of Lady and the Tramp as an example of what to expect as a first-run feature film on Disney+.

“We wouldn’t make a Star Wars movie for this platform,” Iger continued. “When everybody goes out on the weekend and you have a movie that opens up to $200 million, there’s a buzz that creates that enhances value. We like that. And eventually the movies we’re making are going to [end up on] the service.”

But if Star Wars is too big for its movies to warp straight to TV, that doesn’t mean Disney is shying away altogether from making first-run movies specifically for its new platform. “The studio is being asked to create five or six additional movies in 2019 to launch in this Disney service,” Iger assured.

There’s still no word on when in 2019 Disney+ will finally arrive, and Iger said Disney still hasn’t settled on how much it will cost subscribers. “[W]e’ve got to launch the product first. We haven’t even decided what we’re going to charge for it,” he admitted.

When it does go live, though, Disney+ will likely open strong with the Force. In addition to The Mandalorian, there’s also a planned prequel series focusing on Rogue One’s Cassian Andor (Diego Luna). Looking beyond Star Wars, there’s also a Scarlet Witch series, as well as a Loki-based show in development from Marvel; a Monsters, Inc. series; and a ton of other shows and movies based on older Disney brands, from Peter Pan to The Mighty Ducks.