Disney Expected to Make Back Lucasfilm Investment With The Force Awakens


Wired.com crunched the numbers in profits that Disney has made on the Star Wars franchise since purchasing it in 2012. The results are near staggering.

Perhaps this is not quite the “cultural moment” everyone is aware of, but do you remember where you were when you heard Disney bought Lucasfilms? I do. I remember sitting in the hairdressers chair, staring at my phone, mouth agape, as I read that Disney had sunk a second 4 billion into their second male-centric investment in under five years. (Yes, that’s billion with a “b.” The first one was Marvel, which they purchased in 2009, for nearly the same amount.)

At the time, Marvel was on the up and up. Iron Man was an unexpected hit, and the first post credits sequence hinted at an unprecedented linking of superhero franchise movies that had not be undertaken before. Star Wars, on the other hand, was basically moribund. The prequels has been a short term gain for long term disaster. Lucas was so discouraged by the public’s reception of them, and the preconception that his own greed had killed his baby, that he was unwilling to ever make another Star Wars movie again. Star Trek may have found a way to make the leap into the next century, but Star Wars would forever be stuck back in 1999.

Until Disney bought the franchise from him, convinced that there was untapped potential and a hunger to see someone do right by the series. To say that they tapped the right well is an understatement. As Wired points out, the opening salvo, which was the relaunch of the Star Wars comic books at the beginning of this year, showed how much untapped market there was. “Star Wars comic book from Marvel sold almost a million units (remember, Disney owns Marvel, too). That’s only about, oh, 25 times more than the final Star Wars issue published by Dark Horse Comics” And then, as the anticipation towards the new movie built, with Disney tapping into the fan created May the Fourth holiday and the release of the second trailer via live stream that sent the doubters into spams of nostalgic frenzy, along came Force Friday. Force Friday was genius level marketing on nearly every front, embedding all of the characters, creatures and generalized merch into the public consciousness 15 weeks before the movie came to theaters. Toy sales between Force Friday and the end of the year should reach $2 billion in retail sales. At an approximate $1 billion wholesale, and with Disney’s estimated royalty rate of 15 percent, that’s a lot of cheddar for the Mouse.” Approximately $150 million, give or take.

Then there was the ticket buying frenzy the marketing department engineered on the back of the final trailer, with an assist from Monday Night Football, and yet another Disney property, ESPN. $50 million has been presold, suggesting that Jurassic World’s $209 million record from this summer was merely a placeholder. “BoxOffice.com is projecting $762 million in cumulative ticket sales for The Force Awakens” according to Wired, with Disney taking half of that. And that’s not even adding in the DVD sales, the PPV watching at home and all the rest of the post release merchadizing that hasn’t even kicked in yet. There is a prediction that 2016 could see a $500 million backwash from the release of the first movie alone. With numbers like that, Disney is looking at making back half their $4 billion investment just from The Force Awakens. Deal of the Century, indeed.

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Check out the entire Star Wars Force Awakens cast list.