'Star Wars' Franchise Heads to Turner in Major Licensing Deal

TNT and TBS will be home to the network premieres of 2015's 'The Force Awakens,' as well as the upcoming spinoff 'Rogue One.'
Courtesy of Lucasfilms 2015/Walt Disney Studios
'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

Turner is headed to a galaxy far, far away.

The media parent of TNT and TBS has snagged the rights to the famed Star Wars franchise, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

As part of the multiyear licensing agreement with Disney (which purchased LucasFilm in 2012) and 20th Century Fox (which released the first six films of the series), TNT and TBS will have exclusive linear basic cable right and ad-supported on-demand rights to Star Wars.

The pact with Disney covers 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as well as this year's spinoff Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the next three Star Wars theatrical releases. Subsequently, all of Disney's Star Wars releases will have their network premieres on Turner's cable networks.

The Disney deal also includes five of the six original films, beginning with 1980's The Empire Strikes Back and running through 2005's Revenge of the Sith. Turner also has a separate agreement with 20th Century Fox for the film that started it all, 1977's Star Wars: A New Hope, thus making Turner the only company boasting basic cable rights to all 11 titles in the franchise.

"The Star Wars movies and characters are beloved across generations, captivating audiences and breaking box office records around the globe for nearly four decades," Turner exec vp of networks optimization, content strategy and commercialization Deborah K. Bradley said Wednesday in a statement. "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."

To celebrate the landmark deal, TNT will begin airing the original six Star Wars films in order by chapter (as opposed to release date) beginning on Tuesday. The Force Awakens, which recently made its pay cable debut on Starz on Sept. 10, will premiere on TNT in 2018, with Rogue One following in 2019. The Force Awakens surpassed Avatar as the highest-grossing film of all time in North America in January. Its current domestic haul stands at $936 million. 

TNT's rollout is detailed below.

Tuesday, Sept. 20
8 p.m. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
11 p.m. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Wednesday, Sept. 21
8 p.m. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
11:05 p.m. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

Thursday, Sept. 22
8 p.m. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
11:05 p.m. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Friday, Sept. 23
8 p.m. Star Wars: A New Hope
10:45 p.m. Star Wars: A New Hope

Saturday, Sept. 24
10:45 a.m. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
1:45 p.m. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
4:55 p.m. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
8 p.m. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
10:45 p.m. 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. Star Wars: A New Hope
5:10 p.m. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
8 p.m. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
11 p.m. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
2 a.m. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

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