Disney has been rushing to put new movies on its streaming service, but The Rise of Skywalker is still missing from Disney+. Even after early streaming releases for Pixar's Onward and Frozen 2, there's no confirmation that the ninth Star Wars movie could land on Disney+ in the near future.
Now, geek culture expert Kevin Smith is weighing in, bringing a mix of insider info and Hollywood knowhow to explain Disney's murky streaming strategy once and for all.
In a recent episode of his podcast FatMan Beyond LIVE!, Smith offered a clever metaphor to explain Disney's approach to what goes straight to streaming and what doesn't. In this particular case, he's talking about upcoming Marvel movies like Black Widow and The Eternals, but the basic concept also applies to The Rise of Skywalker (more on that later).
Here Smith (via Screen Rant):
I think [releasing Artemis Fowl straight to streaming] is a smart play. I don't think you'll ever see that happen with a Marvel movie. I don't think they're gonna play their big money cards. Think of it as somebody sitting there playing Uno. They just laid down a skip card to buy themselves some time. Artemis Fowl, they're like, 'Skip. You can watch that on Disney+.' They're not gonna stick a Marvel movie on Disney+ because they've got some Marvel TV shows coming, and they gotta keep them Marvel movies valuable. Because those movies make fucking money, man, legit fucking money.
As we mentioned earlier, Smith is specifically talking about Marvel in an attempt to explain why movies like Black Widow were delayed rather than simply dropped on Disney+ while Artemis Fowl is headed straight to the streaming platform.
His argument makes a lot of sense. Disney can afford to buy some time by tossing fans Artemis Fowl for free — with a Disney+ subscription — but with Marvel movies, there's just too much money on the line. The same goes for classic Disney movie remakes like Mulan, along with tentpole Star Wars movies.
Of course, there are no new Star Wars movies in Disney's pipeline (the next one is untitled and slated for December 2022), but there's still The Rise of Skywalker.
The most recent Star Wars movie hit theaters in December 2019. It's available for digital purchase or rental, but not streaming. Based on previous Star Wars films like The Last Jedi, we can expect to see Rise of Skywalker hit streaming (Disney+ specifically) sometime this June. Plenty of people have speculated that Disney could push up that streaming date, but as Kevin Smith cleverly explains, that would mean Disney losing money from anyone still planning to buy or rent the film.
Onward might be a "skip card" that can be played to keep people invested in Disney+, but there's money in Rise of Skywalker and Disney has no intention of giving up on a payday.