Where Can First-Timers See Star Wars? It’s Not Easy.

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It still surprises me when I meet someone who had never seen a Star Wars movies.  These films are so iconic that I cannot imagine not seeing at least one of them.  They then follow up by saying that they’ve been wanting to see one, if not all of them, but don’t know where to start.  So how does someone go about sampling these films?

yodaIt was a Sunday afternoon that ended 2015’s Star Wars Celebration.  As I walked out of the closing ceremony (why did it have to end?!?!?), I walked back to the Sheraton Park Hotel to gather my luggage and then headed out to pick up my rental car.  I had an early flight that next morning and decided to stay close to LAX that Sunday evening.

As I was checking in at the Hilton airport location, the front desk clerk, who was in his mid-20s, noticed I was wearing a Star Wars t-shirt and asked if I attended Celebration.  When I told him that I did attend, he said that a father and his son were trying to check in a few days ago for Celebration.  He told them that they were at the wrong Hilton and must travel to the one in Anaheim.  When I asked him how he knew about the convention, he said he was not a Star Wars fan but saw Celebration mentioned on the local news.

I said, “How can you not be a Star Wars fan?  You don’t like the movies?”

He said, “It’s not like I don’t like them.  I just have never seen a Star Wars movie.  Isn’t there one called the Phantom Menace?  I saw some of that one at a friend’s house and liked it.  I just never got to finish watching it.”

yoda2I told him that he should finish watching it and that it’s Episode I of the saga.  He can start there and go through each film up to Episode VI before the new film comes out.

He excitedly said that he wants to do that because the new movie looks like it will be great!

And then a thought occurred to me.  How does someone who has never seen a Star Wars film  supposed to see any of the them before The Force Awakens comes out?  The options are limited and Disney/Lucasfilm does not make it easy for non-Star Wars fans to catch up on the films.  You would think that the films would be readily available to anyone so that a new Star Wars audience can build towards the new movie.  But clearly, that’s not what the powers that be have in mind.

Which of these available methods work for the non-Star Wars fan?

  1. Digital downloads:  The week before Celebration, Disney released digital downloads of all six films.  However, these are for purchase only.  No rentals.  So someone who has never seen and doesn’t know if they will like Star Wars is supposed to buy a Star Wars movie for $20.00.  It is hard to tell someone to sample one of the movies by telling them they can’t rent it for $5.00, or less, but they have to buy it for $20.00.
  2. Online Streaming:  Disney does not offer the films on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.
  3. Store Rentals:  Blockbusters and many other video store chains have closed.  There are very few smaller rental stores around, but there are limited selections if you are lucky enough to have one around- and Redbox is unlikely to carry these films.
  4. Mail-in Rentals: Luckily, Netflix will mail out the DVD versions if you are a monthly subscriber to their mail-in DVD service.  However, not everyone is a subscriber to this service.  (Blu-ray disks are an extra monthly charge.)
  5. Blu-ray/DVD Purchases:  Again, someone who has never seen a Star Wars movie isn’t going to plop down $50.00 or more for any box set.
  6. TV Broadcasts:  In the U.S., Spike TV will occasionally run a Star Wars marathon of all six films.  However, anyone wanting to catch these films needs to be a pay-tv subscriber and be diligent in keeping their eyes open for the next scheduled airing.  These will not be available through video on demand.
  7. Borrow or Visit:  This is what friends are for!  To let you borrow their disks of the films!  Or better yet, watch them at their house!

So to you, the front desk clerk at the Hilton, I would say your best bet to see all or any of the six Star Wars films is to wait to see them on pay-TV or through Netflix’s DVD service.  If you’re not a subscriber to either services, maybe you can find a friend that owns them.  I wish there were easier ways for the never-before-seen Star Wars people to catch up on the films before The Force Awakens.

~ Bruce Gibson

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  • Zarm

    Someone hadn’t seen Star Wars, and you told them to START with Phantom Menace, and expected them to actually become a Star Wars fan based on this? I don’t think that works that way. :-)

    • Bruce Gibson

      Well, he had already started seeing parts of The Phantom Menace, but if he starts there, he’ll see that it just keeps getting better.

      • Zarm

        If he actually watches TPM and AOTC and then decides miraculously to actually keep watching the movies. If I hadn’t seen the OT first, I sure wouldn’t have given the series a third chance after those. :-)

        • Bruce Gibson

          You’ll never know. :)

    • Riley Blanton

      Zarm, I started this whole fansite and the 1st film I saw was TPM 😉

      • Zarm

        My condolences. 😉