Imagine you're a "Star Wars" fan with 817 minutes or so to kill before the latest film in the series, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," officially opens Friday. If, on a lark, you decide to purchase the two previous "Star Wars" trilogies and watch all six movies in a row, be forewarned: It'll cost you.
The franchise, while ubiquitous, has a certain cultlike following of fans who have purchased box sets time and again. But with the latest film, the first released under the Disney banner following its $4 billion 2012 splurge to buy the franchise from Lucasfilm, it's time again to pony up for the movies. And with cord-cutting the latest rage, interested buyers can now stream all six previous "Star Wars" movies.
The movies aren't available, however, on the less expensive services based on monthly fees like Netflix or Hulu. The complete set is for sale on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play for $89.99. Or, if you're inclined to watch only certain movies — perhaps leaving out the oft-maligned prequel trilogy from the 2000s — individual films are available to stream for $19.99.
With time running out before "The Force Awakens" sets the box office aflame, streaming is likely the most convenient option for those hoping to catch up. But the cheapest option would be to buy the physical movies. Box sets of the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy are on sale at Walmart for $34.96 each, meaning you'd get about a $20 discount compared with the streaming set. Meanwhile a "complete saga" Blu-ray set including documentaries and bonus features will set you back $89.96. If your household still has a VHS player, the original three movies are available on videotape at Amazon for $29.83, which could be paired with a more modern option for the three latest films. EBay, of course, features a bevy of options for "Star Wars" fans at a range of prices.
It has typically been a costly endeavor to invest in home copies of "Star Wars." In fact, when the "complete saga" set was first released in 2011, it retailed for $139. That didn't stop fans from buying it: The set broke global sales records with 1 million units sold, bringing in some $84 million for the franchise.
Advance ticket sales indicate "The Force Awakens," which premiered in Los Angeles Monday to an audience of about 1,000 people who committed to not spoiling the plot, is on pace to challenge 2009's "Avatar" for the title of highest-grossing movie ever; James Cameron's film took in $2.8 billion worldwide. There is one other option for potential moviegoers who might contribute to the likely massive box-office haul for"Star Wars": If you're hoping to just get the gist of all six films, and not particularly interested in understanding much, a YouTube user uploaded a video that plays all six films at once. As of midday Tuesday, some 626,000 people had viewed the video.