China's Tencent Makes Entire 'Star Wars' Saga Available Online

Star Wars Episode 4 Han Solo Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Photofest

Star Wars Episode 4 Han Solo Still - H 2015

In a landmark deal with Disney and 20th Century Fox, China's 640 million internet users are getting legitimate digital access to the beloved franchise for the first time.

Walt Disney and 20th Century Fox have partnered with Chinese internet giant Tencent to make the entire Star Wars saga available to Chinese viewers online, the two companies said Monday.

The deal is expected to give the Star Wars brand a huge boost of exposure in China — now the world's second-largest film market — just as Disney begins rolling out its worldwide marketing campaigns for J.J. Abrams' much anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December.

Financial details weren't disclosed.

Tencent's dedicated Star Wars portal — which can be found here — went live as the announcement was made Monday. The launch marks the first time China's estimated 640 million internet users have legitimate digital access to the Star Wars film franchise, the most valuable in movie history.

“Excitement for Star Wars is at an all-time high as we get ready for the global release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens," said Carol Choi, vp marketing, The Walt Disney Company China. "By working with Tencent we can extend the Star Wars franchise to Tencent’s massive user base and go to the heart of digital lifestyles in China."

Tencent recently signed deals with Disney and 20th Century Fox to be the exclusive online video-on-demand provider in mainland China for the six films in the Star Wars saga. The films were released via Tencent’s various online channels, including both the film and video channels of, and the Tencent Video app. Existing Tencent members can order the films for 2.5 Chinese yuan (about 40 cents) per view during the month of September, and from October onwards the films will be included in their monthly subscription package. Nonmembers can get the films on-demand for 5 yuan (about 80 cents) per view. Tencent's maximum monthly subscription fee is 20 yuan (a little over $3).

In addition to the six movies, Tencent's digital Star Wars hub offers an array of additional content from the franchise, including shorts, behind-the-scenes features, deleted scenes, video featurettes and a curated collection of classic Star Wars extras from each of the original films. Fans can also purchase Star Wars merchandise through the platform.

"This is a huge win for the existing fans as well as those who will be introduced to the iconic movies through this collaboration,” said Alvin Fu, managing director, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment China.

“Through this collaboration with Disney and 20th Century Fox, we will elevate and tailor the Star Wars experience for fans via Tencent’s strong understanding of the market and the viral network effect of the highly connected Tencent user base,” said Sy Lau, senior executive vp of Tencent and president of Tencent Online Media Group.