For many (okay, for some), Star Wars Day is the biggest holiday of the year. Each May, diehard fans and franchise devotees gather together, get out their Imperial knickknacks and Rebel tchotchkes, and set to debating one of life’s most vexing questions: Who shot first, Han or Greedo? Jokes aside, the Fourth is both a day of celebration for existing fans and a great opportunity for others to join the club.
Of course, for many supporters of the series, May the Fourth is simply an excuse to re-watch their favorite films. And who could blame them? There’s nothing quite as inspiring as watching a band of Ewoks destroy a legion of stormtroopers with rocks and sticks. With that in mind, we’ve put together a quick-and-dirty guide to watching the films and episodes online, so you don’t have to spend your favorite holiday scouring the internet for rusted droids and machine parts. Read on, padawans!
(Note: These recommendations are for U.S. residents. International availability will vary by region.)
Streaming via subscription
It would be great if we could all just log into our Netflix accounts and queue up our favorite Episodes. Unfortunately, Disney/LucasFilm knows how valuable the franchise is, and stands to make a lot more money by withholding movies in the series from popular streaming services. The word on the street is that the 2016 offshoot Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be making its way onto Netflix sometime in 2017, but for now, we don’t have any more concrete information. Disney hasn’t announced any such plans for the first seven Episodes, either, so don’t hold your breath.
There is some good news for Netflix users, though: If you’re a fan of the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series, you can stream all six seasons with a subscription. For now, that’s the only Star Wars content available through the service, but we’ll keep you updated if any changes are made.
As far as streaming platforms go, that’s about it. Sadly, none of the Star Wars films are available with subscriptions to Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, Playstation Vue, or Sling TV either. If you want ’em, you’re gonna have to buy ’em.
Like most cable companies, DirecTV allows customers to stream content via their website in addition to watching live on television. With a DirecTV account, you can stream Disney’s animated Star Wars Rebels at no additional cost. Unfortunately, the service only offers 20 episodes total — four from the first season and 16 from the third — and only 13 of those are available online, so you can’t really binge your way through the whole series.
If you’re a cable or satellite customer, but you don’t have DirecTV, there’s another option for watching Star Wars Rebels: Straight from the source. Head over to Disney’s XD page, sign in with your cable or satellite provider, and voilà! You’re now able to watch the full third season, and one “recap” episode for Season One. Where is Season Two? We have no clue.
Now that we’ve covered all of the (extremely limited) options for streaming official Star Wars content, let’s move on to the real method: Just buying it. If you’re a big fan, purchasing the films digitally isn’t such a bad idea — if you’re going to watch them every year in anticipation of the newest release, the investment will eventually pay off. If not, well, you don’t really have a choice — although sites like iTunes and Amazon usually offer movie rentals, the Star Wars movies are noticeably nowhere to be found (Rogue One can be rented in some places). Evidently, Disney decided that offering rentals wasn’t in its best interests.
In any case, the Disney Movies Anywhere initiative allows users to watch any Disney films they’ve purchased digitally, regardless of where you buy them — it’s a cool program, though we expect that if you’re buying one movie from Amazon, you’ll probably be buying them all from Amazon.
Amazon is the first place most people go to buy stuff online, and it’s a fine choice for Star Wars fans too. Each of the eight feature-length films is available for digital purchase; the first six movies will run you $15 (assuming you want them in high definition), while The Force Awakens costs $18, and Rogue One is $20. If you don’t own any of the films, Amazon also offers a digital HD collection of Episodes I through VI for $80.
Youtube’s Movies section also offers all the official Star Wars content for purchase. Despite our earlier comments, you can actually rent from Youtube — unfortunately, you can only rent Rogue One, for $6. Otherwise, you’ll have to take the plunge. The first six movies are $15 each (in HD), while Rogue One and The Force Awakens will cost you $20.
If you want to watch Rebels, Youtube is a good place to do it — the whole series is available for purchase, either by season or by episode. High definition is a bit more expensive, as you might expect. Clone Wars is also here, if you don’t have a Netflix subscription or if you’d just rather own the content. Someone also uploaded a compilation of the 2003 Clone Wars series, created by Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack) — it’s not canon, but you can watch it here for free.
Like Amazon and Youtube, Google’s got all eight movies for you to buy — in HD, they’re all between $15 and $20 — plus the option to rent Rogue One. If you want the digital collection of Episodes I through VI, it’s “just” $80 in HD.
Just like the other options above, you can buy all the movies via iTunes, as well as Clone Wars and Rebels. Not all the content is available in standard definition, though, and there are no options for renting rather than purchasing. For $90 (HD), you can also get the aforementioned six-film collection.
As you’ve probably surmised by now, most of the options here are fairly similar — it simply depends which ecosystem you prefer to invest in. Microsoft’s store is actually a bit more limited; neither of the animated series are available here, though all eight films are at similar pricing as the choices mentioned above.
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