Very lucky, Canada is. The Truth North is the only country in the world where Netflix has secured streaming rights to the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. The movie will be available on Netflix in Canada—and nowhere else—about eight months after it leaves theaters.
Disney, which owns Lucasfilm, inked a deal with Netflix to stream its movies in the United States starting in 2016. The Force Awakens, however, comes out Dec. 18, 2015—meaning it’s still subject to Netflix’s expired deal with US cable channel Starz. Thus, in the US, Starz has exclusive access to air the new Star Wars film. Netflix has about 43 million subscribers (pdf) in the US, while Starz boasts 23 million.
Here’s why Netflix-subscribing Star Wars fans in Canada are so lucky: Disney’s agreement with Netflix in Canada, inked last year, includes all 2015 film releases, unlike in the US and other countries. That deal with Netflix replaced Disney’s deals with Bell Canada, which covered the eastern half of the country, and Corus Entertainment, which covered the western half.
The Canadian exclusivity underscores how strange and complex film and TV licensing agreements can be. With Netflix rapidly expanding into new territories, much of its success will be predicated on securing the streaming rights for content in those places (in addition to developing original shows of its own). Making those deals is often messy, resulting in Netflix offering vastly different catalogs of content depending on where you live.
The silver lining for Americans is that Netflix is apparently working to obtain the rights to stream all the old Star Wars movies. So you might not be able to see the new one, but you could soon be able to binge away a weekend with Luke, Leia, Han, and company.
It’s possible—even likely—that Netflix will secure the rights to The Force Awakens in other countries over time. But, for now, Canada’s got both streaming and bragging rights.