Star Wars: Disney CEO Plays Down 'Force Awakens' Box Office Forecasts

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Star Wars is one of the most successful film franchises of all time, having taken over $1.9 billion at the U.S box office alone. The live-action movies notwithstanding, Star Wars also has immensely popular clothing merchandise, cartoon series (like Star Wars Rebels), action figures, and much, much more. Therefore, it comes as little surprise that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is perhaps the most anticipated film of 2015.

2015 has been a lucrative year already for cinema already, with Marvel Studios' Avengers: Age of Ultron becoming the sixth highest-grossing film of all time worldwide, while Universal Studios' Furious 7 and Jurassic World are now the fifth and third highest-grossing movies ever, respectively (with global takes of $1.51 billion and $1.56 billion, to date). Given the growing excitement surrounding The Force Awakens, expectations are sky-high when it comes to the film's commercial prospects (to say the least).

However, EW is reporting that Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger seems a little more cautious about Force Awakens' potential for success. After Disney published its latest quarterly earnings (which were better than expected), Iger was asked how he is expecting the next Star Wars movie to perform at the box office. Here's his response:

 “On the Star Wars front, we know there is just incredible interest in this film. We put two teaser trailers out, and the response has just been enormous. Anything that moves gets a lot of attention, and the anticipation is obviously huge. We’ve seen some examples already of Star Wars product going on the marketplace on the consumer products front, including in markets like China, that are very, very encouraging.”

So far, so good, then. Iger basically expressed what most of us mere mortals are thinking, which is that this film is going to be huge. However, Iger was quick to play down the idea that Star Wars mania will explode worldwide, perhaps hoping that by playing down the potential for success, The Force Awakens will end up exceeding all expectations (rather than just meeting them or, even worse, falling short). In fact, Iger was adamant that Disney will make no estimates for the film’s performance at all:

“As enthusiastic as we are for what we know of the film, we have not seen a Star Wars film — an original one — since 2005. And there are markets around the world that are less familiar with Star Wars than, say, the United States, for instance. While the [Star Wars] enthusiasm is, I think, rather apparent, we just want to be careful that the world doesn’t get ahead of us too much in terms of the estimates, and we’ve seen them as well. We’re making, at this point, no estimates whatsoever in terms of what we believe the film will do.”

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Recent predictions for co-writer/director J.J. Abrams' The Force Awakens worldwide performance have ranged from $1.2-1.3 billion to $2.25 billion, not including the massive amounts of merchandise that will accompany the film’s releas. As such, Iger was keen to remind Disney stockholders (and hardcore Star Wars fans alike) that Disney takes the Star Wars legacy very seriously:

 “We know we have probably the most valuable film franchise that ever existed. We know we have the ability as a company to leverage it in very compelling ways, whether it’s Disney Infinity, whether it’s at the parks, whether it’s on the consumer products front or TV front. We fully expect the success of this film will reverberate throughout the company, not only in 2016 but in the years beyond, because we obviously have a rich slate of Star Wars films coming.”

All things considered, though, a huge initial box office surge seems inevitable for The Force Awakens. Much has been made of this movie returning to the franchise’s roots, including the inclusion of certain seasoned Star Wars movie cast members (Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford), which only serves to build even more excitement. However, its long-term success will ultimately depend on the quality of the film and the story being told on our screens.

NEXT: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Filming Details (Video)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18, 2015, followed by Star Wars: Rogue One on December 16, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX does not have an official release date yet.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

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