‘Star Wars’ made $528 million – $3.5 billion to go

Tony Wagner Dec 21, 2015

‘Star Wars’ made $528 million – $3.5 billion to go

Tony Wagner Dec 21, 2015

By now you’ve probably heard that the latest “Star Wars” movie — “The Force Awakens” — ruled the global box office this weekend with a half-billion-dollar haul. It broke the domestic opening record recently set by “Jurassic World,” and about a dozen others. It’s not even out in China until next month.

To say that’s a respectable haul is an understatement; “The Force Awakens” already made in a weekend what all but a few blockbusters made this summer. But one smash hit movie’s box office return can’t touch Disney’s initial “Star Wars” investment — the company paid an eye-popping $4 billion for Lucasfilm in 2012, something CEO Bob Iger reminded “The Force Awakens” director J.J. Abrams of  regularly.

“I said to him, ‘You need to look at this as a $4 billion movie,’ that’s how I’m looking at it,” Iger told the Wall Street Journal this week. So how close is Disney to making that back? Let’s do the numbers.

Analysts peg the movie’s production budget at around $200 million, according to Bloomberg, with Vanity Fair adding another $350 million “at least” for the months-long marketing blitz. The movie is already in striking distance of earning back that $550 million, and tracking toward a couple billion total gross when it’s all said and done, plus home media.

Then there’s the merchandise. It’s been inextricably linked to “Star Wars” since 1977, when Kenner sold empty boxes at the holidays because it couldn’t keep up with demand for action figures. Disney pushed out the first “The Force Awakens” toys in September and last month the Wall Street Journal reported that “Star Wars” was “sucking the air out” of toy aisles. The franchise is on its way to $2 billion by the end of the year, with Disney taking a reported 15 percent cut.

Adding all that up and looking ahead to next year, one analyst told Wired the Mouse House is likely to make back half of what it paid for Lucasfilm. Considering Disney has two more installments locked in for 2017 and 2019 — plus spin-off movies on the off years — Disney could be looking at a very solid return on that initial $4 billion.


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