There's a New Way to Enter the 'Star Wars' Universe

Star Wars
20th Century-Fox/ApThe first "Star Wars" movie came out in 1977.

It's going to be a big weekend for "Star Wars" fans. Disney (DIS) is doing something that George Lucas never did, making the entire existing catalog of "Star Wars" movies available as digital downloads.

It won't come cheap. Any of the six movies will cost $19.99, or you can do what most die-hard fans will do and pay $89.99 to download the entire bundle. However, the bundle does include hours of special features.

It's a brilliant move by Disney. The family entertainment giant is getting ready to release the seventh installment in the series later this year, and there's nothing like making all six prior releases available digitally to get the public up to speed with the series. It's just part of Disney's master plan to take over your wallet.

Disney Uses the Force

When Disney spent a little more than $4 billion to buy Lucasfilm, it was just a matter of time before it would breathe new life into the "Star Wars" franchise and cash in on the existing catalog. Disney has spent billions to acquire Pixar, Marvel and more recently Lucasfilm. It's not afraid to cut a 10-figure check, as long as it has a plan to raise the bar.

We've known since last year that "Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens" will hit theaters come December, and we also know that the eighth chapter of the franchise will hit a multiplex near you two years later. The ninth and final chapter is slated for a 2019 release. Disney has also announced that it will be putting out movies based on characters within the "Star Wars" universe. The first stab at an offshoot -- "Rogue One" -- will star Felicity Jones and hit theaters next year.

It won't stop there. Disney is widely expected to give "Star Wars" a bigger role at its theme parks, retail stores, and cruise ships. Disney doesn't mess around when it writes big checks.

Farewell to DVDs

It's not just Disney making the most of its investment. "Star Wars" fans snapping up Friday's digital bundle will have to decide what they want to do with their old VHS tapes, DVDs and Blu-ray discs. After all, they can make some of that $19.99 or $89.99 back by trading them in.

It's not rocket science. (AMZN) will buy back old "Star Wars" DVDs, and its website makes it seamless to assemble a list of physical media items for the leading online retailer to repurchase. It will even spring for the shipping cost. Those willing to do a little more legwork can see what they can fetch on eBay or Craigslist for their old physical media merchandise.

The trade-ins don't have to stop at "Star Wars." As more content becomes available online, it suddenly seems as if physical media is moving on. There's a disturbance in the force, and a little spring cleaning of old discs and tapes makes sense -- and cents.

It's also a potentially better platform. You won't be getting any collectible covers, but digital media won't get scratched or lost the way your old DVDs can. It's also far more portable. Amazon, for example, allows purchased downloads to be streamed through many Internet-connected devices beyond the initial download. Disney and Lucas are making it possible for you to enjoy your old favorites in a new way, but this also might be the catalyst to transform the way you consume all video in the future.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Bring the magic of dividends to your portfolio: Check out our free report on our favorite high-yielding dividend stocks.