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Disney and Netflix: The New Rebel Alliance?

By Rick Munarriz - Sep 19, 2015 at 10:06AM

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The family entertainment giant and the leading premium streaming platform could take Star Wars to a galaxy that isn't so far, far away.

Source: Disney.  

The already cozy and mutually lucrative relationship between Walt Disney (DIS 1.64%) and Netflix (NFLX 4.15%) could be getting steamier. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the media giant and giant media distributor are in talks to stream five of the six original Star Wars movies through Latin America. 

Why five? Well, 20th Century Fox holds the rights to the original 1977 movie that is technically the fourth installment, chronologically speaking.  

Why Latin America? Well, we're now just three months away from the theatrical debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh movie in the series and the first under Disney's watch. The U.S., Canada, Europe, and other international Netflix streaming markets are well versed with the intergalactic franchise, but the same doesn't hold true for Latin America.

Striking a deal to get most of the existing Star Wars movies available to Netflix's growing base of users through Latin America would be a win-win. Netflix would be able offer magnetic content that isn't readily and legally available on another digital platform. Disney would receive a meaty licensing fee. 

With J.J. Abrams at the helm of the reboot, it's fair to say that one won't have to be intimately familiar with the source material to enjoy the new movie. He already proved that when he breathed new life into the Star Wars franchise. Familiarity still helps. Placing the movies leading up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens front and center of Latin America's affluent streamers will make it that much easier to woo them out to the multiplex in a few months. We've seen studios with current shows benefit from a spike in ratings after making earlier seasons available via Netflix. Why wouldn't this have the same effect on a movie franchise? 

It's not just about the movie or even the subsequent installments and spinoffs that are in the works. This is Disney. It knows how to squeeze every last bit of juice out of this Millennium Falcon of synergistic opportunities. We already saw Disney roll out a new line of Star Wars toys on Force Friday earlier this summer, and with the franchise becoming a bigger part of its theme parks and even its cruise line -- Star Wars Day at Sea is coming next year -- it's in the House of Mouse's best interest to expose as many people as possible to the intellectual property that it paid more than $4 billion to acquire. 

Disney and Netflix have teamed up well in the past. Several classic Disney movies have streamed on the digital platform in the past, and Marvel's Daredevil was a critical hit earlier this year as a Netflix exclusive. The two companies clearly talk often, and getting most of the Star Wars films into the Netflix Latin America digital vault make so much sense that a Jedi mind trick won't be necessary.

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