The Force will awaken in less than a month, so now is the perfect time to revisit the classic Star Wars movies and once again take the journey — or introduce some younglings — to a galaxy far, far away.
“Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” is the first film in the legendary series in a decade, continuing the story after the original trilogy and prequel trilogies. Here’s how you can (legally) rewatch all six previous movies in the digital era — and if you’re in the UK, here’s how you can do it for free.
May the Force be with you
These are the (legal) options: physical discs, digital download or online streaming. No matter what country you’re in, almost certainly the easiest and cheapest way to watch the movies is on disc, either by ordering online or by stepping away from your computer and venturing into the real world to find a shop.
If you want to download and own a digital copy, you can buy each film in high definition individually, or as part of the “Digital Movie Collection”, which contains all six films in HD.
The original trilogy, beginning in 1977, consists of episodes IV, V and VI, “A New Hope”, “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” respectively. The digital versions of the original films are the “Special Editions” from 1997, which added extra effects and re-inserted deleted scenes. The prequels, beginning in 1999, are “The Phantom Menace”, “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith”. In between are a number of animated series, including “Star Wars: Clone Wars” and “Star Wars: Rebels”.
Once you’ve read on to find out how to watch them in your country, your next decision is which order to watch them in. Why not try the so-called Machete Order that changes a few things around — and cuts out Jar-Jar completely?
How to watch in the US
On Blu-ray, the complete six-film Blu-ray box set costs $90 from Amazon. To buy the original trilogy in digital form, head for online shops such as Google Movies, Amazon Video or iTunes. Each film costs $20. Alternatively you can get all six films in high definition in the “Digital Movie Collection”, which costs $90 from Google Movies and Amazon Movies, or $100 on iTunes.
None of the films are available to legally watch online through a subscription service, although “The Clone Wars” is on Netflix and “Rebels” is on Disney XD.
How to watch in Australia
To buy the original trilogy in digital form, head for Google Movies or iTunes where each film costs AU$25. The “Digital Movie Collection” is AU$125 from Google or AU$120 on iTunes. There are no Australian subscription services offering the Original trilogy.
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You’re better served when it comes to animated TV spin-offs. Netflix has the “Clone Wars” series, which is set in the gap between “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith”. Foxtel has “Rebels”, which bridges the gap between the prequels and original trilogy.
How to watch in the UK
You can buy each film in digital form from Google Play Movies for a tenner each or £59 for the HD “Digital Movie Collection”. On iTunes they’re £14 each and the complete set is £65. Other outlets include Wuaki.TV, which offers “A New Hope” for £14 and the rest for £10.
But before you fork out your cash, you could watch all six movies for less than a tenner, and you don’t even have to trawl your local charity shops. It’s not often that Britons get to celebrate a better deal than those on the other side of the pond, but in this case we can enjoy a solid-gold bargain. If you want to enjoy all six films, you can do so for the paltry sum of just £9.99 — or even for free.
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That’s thanks to Now TV, Sky’s excellent online on-demand and catch-up service for Sky Movies, Sky Sports and Sky TV channels. You don’t need a Sky subscription or a dish to watch Star Wars on Now TV; you just pay £9.99 for a month’s subscription to Now TV’s movies strand, and all six films are available to watch as many times as you like during your month.
And if you’re signing up to Now TV for the first time, you get a 14-day free trial — which means you have a fortnight to watch all six movies for nowt.
The only downside is that not everyone will get to watch the films in high definition quality. Games consoles and set-top streaming boxes such as YouView, Apple TV or Sky’s own Now TV box show on-demand content in 720p HD, but it’s standard definition if you watch on your phone, tablet or PC.
Still, once you’ve paid your tenner you also have access to the rest of the Now TV movie library, which includes brand spanking new releases exclusive to Sky — right now including films such as “Whiplash” and “Unbroken” — as well as other Disney movies, which includes Pixar and Marvel outings like “Up” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”. As if that wasn’t enough, the back catalogue also includes a wealth of films you won’t find on Netflix, such as the “Mad Max”, “Die Hard” and “Dark Knight” films and loads more.
“The Clone Wars” is also available on Now TV’s entertainment subscription for another £6.99 per month.
“Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” opens in the UK and Australia on 17 December and the US on 18 December.
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