There has never been a better time to be a Star Wars fan. After the largely Star Wars-free '90s and the prequel-tainted early 2000s, the current decade has seen new franchise owner Disney return the series to its past glory. Last year's The Force Awakens was well-received by fans and critics alike and shattered box office records, and this year's Rogue One looks to continue the resurgent franchise's winning streak. But if you're looking to watch the other Star Wars movies before Rogue One, what are your options?
This being Star Wars, you're not going to be able to see these movies on the cheap. The only one that's streaming for free is The Force Awakens, which is currently available on Starz. If you don't have a Starz subscription, you can usually try one for free through Amazon Prime for seven days if you haven't taken advantage of the offer before. Your other option for watching The Force Awakens is to buy it — it's currently not available to rent through outlets like iTunes or Amazon. An HD digital copy will set you back 20 bucks on iTunes at the moment, or 15 dollars on Amazon. Amazon also offers Blu-ray and DVD copies, both of which are currently priced higher than the digital version.
As for the first six Star Wars movies, you won't be able to digitally rent them anywhere either. Instead you can buy them, and the easiest way to do this is to purchase them as a digital bundle. The six-movie bundle, which consists of Episodes I-VI, currently goes for $69.99 on both iTunes and Amazon. Now, one caveat about doing it this way is the original trilogy films are going to be presented in their controversial, edited, "special edition" forms. Virtually no fans of the original films prefer these versions of the movies, but because the first special editions were created in 1997, the unedited originals have never been released on digital, DVD, or Blu-ray format. So what are your options if you want to view the original trilogy as they appeared in the '70s and '80s?
Your best bet is to purchase the 1995 release of the trilogy on VHS. This is the last home release of the films in their original version, and they regularly show up on Amazon; usually used. Don't let that scare you away, though. Last year I purchased one of the used copies from Amazon for $15 and it arrived in great condition, allowing me to view the Star Wars movies as they were originally intended. You have to have a VCR to do so, obviously, but IMO it's worth it. You do have to be somewhat careful, though, as there are multiple versions available on Amazon and you don't want to accidentally buy a Special Edition VHS. The 1995 version that you want looks like the image below and can be found here for less than 10 dollars.
If you do go the VHS route instead of getting the bundle, then you'll still need to procure the prequel films. They aren't available as a digital three film bundle, but you can get all three together as a Blu-ray/DVD combo for around 35 bucks on Amazon.
If you opt for the $15 digital copy of The Force Awakens, spend ten bucks on a used VHS copy of the original trilogy, and drop $35 on the prequels, then you'll be in the hole for about $60 — not bad for seven movies. Let the marathoning begin.
Images: Disney/Lucasfilm; Giphy; Amazon