Is there any such thing as the casual Star Wars fan, that rare someone obsessed with the series who doesn't already pick up multiple limited-edition copies of each movie the moment they come out? If so, the first question on their mind besides, "where can I get Poe's jacket?" is probably about when The Last Jedi will be on Netflix. The answer is likely July 2018, but it actually hinges on some pretty big shake-ups in the world of film distribution and streaming that will have major consequences for fans of the Star Wars franchise.
Update: In May, the streaming site announced that The Last Jedi will arrive on Netflix on June 26.
Back in December 2017, The Last Jedi blasted box-office records, taking ninth place for greatest global income, according to Forbes. For context that puts the movie above Frozen and just below Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Pt. II in terms of people willing to spend money and see it in theaters. That's no small shakes, and Disney knows it has a major release on its hands that could provide additional revenue for decades to come — but it all depends on how things go with Netflix.
You see, Disney had a deal with Netflix for exclusive release of the studio's films to the streaming service, but according to Digital Spy, Disney will move its movies off of Netflix and onto to a Disney-based streaming service by 2019, with all future Disney and Pixar films only being released through it. It's already happened in the UK; in 2015, Disney pulled all of its material from other services and set up DisneyLife, a well-received streaming service where fans can catch not only movies, but all Disney-created TV shows as well.
It makes sense Disney would want to leverage love for a very popular film in one of the world's most popular franchises to bolster its new distribution plan and lure viewers over to yet another exclusive streaming service. But despite definitely losing Disney films proper, Netflix has been battling to keep the Star Wars and Marvel movies (also owned by Disney) available for its customers. Netflix has a number of Marvel-themed original series including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, and most recently The Punisher, so it have a vested interest in keeping Disney-adjacent movies available that reflect and build on its own content. The MCU is ever-expanding, but it would be strange if the studio's TV shows and movies could never cross paths in the future.
For awhile, it looked as if The Last Jedi would be collateral damage in the fight between Disney and Netflix. But in early 2018, it was reported that The Last Jedi will be the last Star Wars film Disney will share with Netflix. Rogue One hit Netflix July 2017, giving a seven-month window between theatrical release and the film's streaming availability. The Last Jedi hit screens in December 2017, so its Netflix release date would probably be some time in July 2018. And as Disney's made it clear its streaming service won't start until 2019, that means the film could either fall through the cracks until that service is up and running, or Disney could let Netflix stream the movie exclusively until it finally sets up shop.
Solo: A Star Wars Story, which comes out in May, might be out too close to Disney's stated US streaming service startup date and as such, will likely never see the light of Netflix. Whether fans will follow the Millennium Falcon over to an entirely new service is unclear, but it's what Disney's counting on. Until then, The Last Jedi's title is truer than ever for Netflix viewers.