Thanks to the popularity of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – the first two films of Lucasfilm’s Disney era – licensed merchandise sales for pop culture franchises rose 4.4 percent in 2016 to raise a staggering $262.9 billion in revenue. Back in 2012, the Mouse House acquired Lucasfilm for a whopping $4 billion, and in the years since it’s becoming clear that was quite the steal for the company. Episode VII, riding the waves of positive buzz and an omnipresent nostalgia-driven marketing campaign, earned $2 billion just at the worldwide box office. The very next year, Rogue One proved there was an audience for spinoff movies in a galaxy far, far away by bringing in $1 billion in tickets. These figures, of course, do not include all the money that’s made from tie-in materials and products.
Ever since the original film premiered in 1977, Star Wars has been much more than just movies. Toys, comics, video games, books, attire, and several other items have been a hot commodity for four decades. Nowadays, the unveiling of new Star Wars has transformed into an unofficial holiday, with Lucasfilm planning “Force Friday” events at retailers to help promote their upcoming film. It goes without saying they’ve been quite successful, and now fans can see just how much they’ve contributed to Mickey Mouse’s vault in just the last year.
According to Variety, customers in 2016 spent $262.9 billion on officially licensed products. One of the biggest factors in that substantial increase was the presence of the two latest Star Wars films, which have definitely rejuvenated the brand in the eyes of moviegoers. Marty Brochstein, senior VP of industry relations and information for the Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association, made mention of the first full year of Force Awakens items – which combined new fan-favorite characters like Rey and Kylo Ren with old stalwarts. Additionally, the Rogue One line, while connecting more with a “slightly older demographic,” did “very well.” Brochstein also said blockbusters like Finding Dory and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice largely contributed to the totals.
These figures are just what Disney wants to see, as they have no plans of slowing down Star Wars any time soon. This December sees the release of the hotly-anticipated The Last Jedi, and Lucasfilm also has a young Han Solo spinoff and Episode IX coming through the pipeline. It goes without saying that all three of these productions will come with their own extensive product lines featuring something for collectors of all ages. Hasbro action figures and Hot Toys statues only scratch the surface of what will be available when the time is right. The Episode VIII toys will feature new characters and vehicles, which will make them must-haves for the die hard fans.
In a couple years time, there’s no telling how high these numbers will go. 2019 will see the grand opening of Star Wars Land, a theme park at Disneyland and Disney World that’s sure to be a year-round moneymaking machine. It’s funny to think about $4 billion – an amount few of us will ever see in our lifetimes – being chump change in the long run, but that’s apparently what it is. Arguably, George Lucas undersold and it didn’t take Disney too long to recoup their investment.