10,000 deployed troops will watch Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker for free

The Force will be with the armed forces.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
Walt Disney Studios

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens worldwide Dec. 20, but 10,000 US service members will get to see it early.  Beginning Wednesday and running through Jan. 5, troops in Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates and undisclosed locations in Southwest Asia can travel to a galaxy far, far away without leaving their base. The presentation is courtesy of Disney and the Army & Air Force Exchange Service.

The long-awaited movie "is a big morale boost," Exchange Service CEO Tom Shull in a press statement. "These service members are away from family and friends during this special time of year -- and seeing a big release at the same time it's being shown back home strengthens their connection with family and friends and eases the tensions of deployment."

Watch this: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - Official Trailer (2019)

The two companies also teamed up to release Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens in similar ways.

In late November, a British man with a terminal illness also got to see the film early. The patient and his family watched the film at Rowans Hospice in Hampshire, England.

Previews for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker begin Dec. 19. CNET critic Richard Trenholm says it ticks all the boxes, but there's way too much going on. A two-minute free preview of the film was released with Wednesday's episode of The Mandalorian on streaming service Disney Plus.

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