Who knew using the Force was as easy as having a basic cable plan?
Still haven't gotten the Star Wars DVD/Blu-ray box set you've been asking for since last Christmas? Fear not -- pretty soon, you'll be able to watch every single film on TNT and TBS, thanks to a new deal between Disney, 20th Century Fox and Turner Cable.
Variety estimates that the whole deal cost around $250 million, and that Turner will hold on to the rights until at least 2022. Turner executive Deborah K. Bradley issued the following statement, celebrating the acquisition of such an iconic series:
"The Star Wars movies and characters are beloved across generations, captivating audiences and breaking box office records around the globe for nearly four decades. Through this deal, TNT and TBS will be the exclusive basic cable home of one of the most iconic, enduring and valuable movie franchises of all time, giving viewers the chance to watch this amazing collection from the very beginning."
The week-long Star Wars marathon kicks off on September 20 on TNT with Episode I: The Phantom Menace. You'll want to schedule your big viewing party on Sunday, though, starting with The Phantom Menace at 5:15am, going straight through the whole saga in numerical order, ending with two showings of Return of the Jedi, and then one more Phantom Menace at 2am, just because. You can expect a similar marathon in December, in honor of Rogue One hitting theaters.
Unfortunately, we'll have to wait until 2018 before The Force Awakens gets added to the line-up. Rogue One will make its cable debut in 2019, and eventually, all the other upcoming Star Wars movies —including the Han Solo spin-off — will be included in future marathons on TNT and TBS.
Here's the Full Schedule of TNT Star Wars Marathon, so you can plan your week accordingly:
Tuesday, Sept. 20
8 p.m. (ET/PT) – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
11 p.m. (ET/PT) – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Wednesday, Sept. 21
8 p.m. (ET/PT) – Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
11:05 p.m. (ET/PT) – Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
Thursday, Sept. 22
8 p.m. (ET/PT) – Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
11:05 p.m. (ET/PT) – Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Friday, Sept. 23
8 p.m. (ET/PT) – Star Wars: A New Hope
10:45 p.m. (ET/PT) – Star Wars: A New Hope
Saturday, Sept. 24
10:45 a.m. (ET/PT) – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
1:45 p.m. (ET/PT) – Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
4:55 p.m. (ET/PT) – Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
8 p.m. (ET/PT) – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
10:45 p.m. (ET/PT) – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Sunday, Sept. 25
5:15 a.m. – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
8:15 a.m. – Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
11:20 a.m. – Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
2:25 p.m. (ET/PT) – Star Wars: A New Hope
5:10 p.m. (ET/PT) – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
8 p.m. (ET/PT) – Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
11 p.m. (ET/PT) – Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
2 a.m. (ET/PT) – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
In an age where many viewers are canceling paid cable services in favor of streaming services like Netflix or Hulu, acquiring the rights to a major franchise like Star Wars can make a big difference in a network's quest to maintain viewership. Last month, NBCUniversal closed a similar deal gaining exclusive rights to all the Harry Potter films, including the upcoming Fantastic Beasts trilogy. NBCUniversal executive Frances Manfredi explained the strategy behind purchasing up the rights to films, rather than pushing to create new original series all the time:
"Movies are a limited-risk investment."
While it's expensive and risky to try and get audiences hooked on a new series, people are more likely to sit down and watch a film they already know and love. Chuck Saftler, the COO of FX, described it as:
"a lean-back, comfort-food experience. People tend to get sucked in; it is almost like a flypaper effect."
As Netflix pushes more and more of its own original content and the number of well-known titles in its library continues to dwindle, will movies like Star Wars and Harry Potter be the real incentive for consumers to cling on to basic cable?
Will you be watching the Star Wars marathon on TNT next week?
TNT might be bringing you the Star Wars marathon, but we've got the Star Wars blooper reel right here, and you don't want miss it! ;)