Six years after Disney purchased Lucasfilm to bring back the Star Wars franchise, the Mouse House has already turned a profit on their $4 billion investment. When George Lucas concluded his prequel trilogy with Revenge of the Sith in 2005, many believed the Skywalker saga was over and there would be no more films set in the galaxy far, far away. Of course, that couldn't have been further from the truth as Star Wars now stands alongside Marvel and Pixar as key cogs in Disney's ever-expanding media empire. Four films have been released in this era, with plenty more still to come.
A case can be made Disney jumped the gun and rushed out more Star Wars content than fans knew what to do with, but it's still hard to argue against the results. While Solo: A Star Wars Story was a mismanaged box office failure, the quartet of modern Star Wars movies have collectively grossed nearly $5 billion worldwide in ticket sales, and that only scratches the surface. When all corners of the brand are taken into consideration, Disney is enjoying the fruits of Star Wars.
According to CNBC, Star Wars is an immensely profitable asset for Disney. In addition to the box office gross (which exceeds the Lucasfilm sales price on its own), there's also been a considerable amount of revenue generated by other sources - like home media sales. Star Wars also remains a merchandising giant with plenty of toys and tie-in materials for each film release. No exact profit margin was provided, but comScore analyst Paul Dergarabedian says Disney has "more than made back" their initial $4 billion.
Of course, these figures will only increase as time goes on. 2019 is poised to be a huge year for Star Wars, as it sees the release of Episode IX (which should easily hit $1 billion worldwide at least), the premiere of TV show The Mandalorian, and the opening of Galaxy's Edge at Disney's California and Florida theme park locations. Galaxy's Edge in particular will be a year-round moneymaking machine (especially in the early going), as fans flock to check out the attractions and experience the Star Wars universe like never before. Disney is also looking to take advantage of Lucasfilm's Indiana Jones franchise with a new movie in 2021 and a possible Hollywood Studios mini-land. Both of those endeavors will add to the bottom line.
Star Wars experienced its fair share of ups and downs the past year and Lucasfilm was forced to rethink their strategy in the wake of Solo's poor performance. Other spinoff movies like the rumored Boba Fett film are canceled for now, as Disney plans a slowdown post-Episode IX. Still, when looking at the bigger, overall picture, it's safe to say this was a very smart investment on Bob Iger's part and it's easy to see why Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy will remain in her position for the next few years. The studio has some exciting things planned for the future, so it'll be interesting to see what happens.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019