Disney bet four billion dollars that Star Wars could be revived. The result was the largest profits earnings report in the history of the company.
There have been hints for the last week that Disney’s bet on Star Wars: The Force Awakens would pay off big time when they reported their first quarterly earnings of the year. Ticket sales reached $2 billion internationally this past weekend, and everyone from toy manufacturers to movie chains have reported higher earnings for the last quarter of 2015, thanks to Star Wars sales.
But even investors were slightly shocked at how well Disney’s numbers came in yesterday. Forbes has the numbers:
Net income in the quarter rose 32% to $2.88 billion, or $1.73 per share. Excluding items, earnings came in at $1.63 per share, far ahead of analyst estimates of $1.45 per share. Revenue soared 14% to $15.24 billion, also well above analyst estimates of $14.75 billion.
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As CEO Robert Iger said in his remarks along with the numbers release: “Driven by the phenomenal success of Star Wars, we delivered the highest quarterly earnings in the history of our company.”
When you break down these numbers into their components, they become more drastic. In the entertainment division, ticket sales for The Force Awakens were responsible for an 86% rise in profit. Star Wars nearly doubled the entire division on ticket sales *alone.* That’s not counting all the people who streamed the older Star Wars movies at home prior to or just after seeing the movie.
The the “consumer and interactive” department (read toys and video games) there was a 23% rise in profit. Most of this came through the licensing revenue to companies like Hasbro and Entertainment Arts.
All of this completely swamped any bad news that came from the ESPN losses for the second half of 2015. Though Disney cited a “5% drop in the cable network’s profit,” due to ESPN’s continuing weakness, the successes of the ascendant nerd turn in pop culture more than made up for the slow collapse of the fortunes of the jock-centric franchise.