Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the third installment of the latest Star Wars trilogy and the last of the “Skywalker saga,” is coming to Disney+ ahead of schedule.
The J.J. Abrams–directed finale, also known as “Episode IX,” will be available on Disney+ on May 4, two months ahead of the originally intended release date. Disney says the moved-up premiere is to commemorate the annual Star Wars Day holiday celebrated by fans, though the timing comes as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on Disney’s theme park and theatrical businesses.
Movie theaters around the world largely remain shuttered as social distancing measures keep audiences at home, preventing Disney from releasing tentpole films like its live-action Mulan remake and Marvel’s Black Widow. The films’ theatrical releases in the U.S. have been pushed back to July 24 and Nov. 6, respectively.
Meanwhile, Disney theme parks worldwide remained closed indefinitely, with the exception of China’s Shanghai Disneyland Resort, which has partially started to reopen. Some analysts predict the parks will remain shuttered for the rest of 2020.
Disney+ has been one of the few positives for the company, as consumers spend more time quarantining indoors and using streaming services. The platform earlier in April reached 50 million global subscribers just five months after launch.
The coronavirus pandemic prompted Disney to shift several other releases to its streaming service ahead of schedule: Frozen 2 came to Disney+ three months ahead of schedule, on March 15. Elsewhere, the sci-fi fantasy adventure Artemis Fowl, originally intended for a theatrical release, will premiere directly on Disney+ on June 12.
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