The newest installment in the Star Wars franchise, which is now under the ownership of Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS), has been shattering box office records as it puts a fantastic debut weekend performance behind it. While there is only so much data to glean thus far, analysts' projections indicate that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be a multi-billion-dollar cash cow for Disney.
This doesn't even include the next three films in the series that Disney plans to produce.
Aggressive Marketing Campaign
It's been a decade since the last film in the Star Wars series appeared in theaters. In the time since, Disney acquired the rights to the franchise from LucasFilm for $4 billion in 2012. With the Disney media empire at its disposal, the marketing thrust for the new film has gone far beyond what the original six films accomplished. There is literally something "Star Wars" for everybody in 2015: the film's marketers have targeted the young and old, both men and women, across various demographics and nationalities. In addition to the U.S., the film also set record debut revenues in Australia, Germany, Russia, and the U.K.
Current analysis places a $2.25-billion price tag on the film's projected global ticket sales, with another $1 billion in projected revenue from the film's eventual release for home entertainment purposes. These experts also predict that the Star Wars brand and logo will generate $8 billion in marketing over 2015 and 2016, with $5 billion this year and another $3 billion next. Over the course of the next 5 years, analysts believe the brand marketing for Star Wars: The Force Awakens could top $25 billion.
Stellar Debut for Star Wars
In North America, the headline revenue numbers for the movie's opening weekend was $238 million, besting the debut ticket revenues for Jurassic World earlier this summer, which grossed over $208 million in its weekend premier. Disney CEO and chairman Bob Iger says that the film will top $528 million worldwide in its first weekend of ticket sales. Keep in mind that the film hasn't even opened yet in China, the world's second-largest movie-going market. (There is some doubt, however, about how it will perform in the People's Republic, considering the original three films in the series were never shown there.)
The preview ticket sales for The Force Awakens were also a new record-high of $57 million, shattering the previous record held by one of the films from the Harry Potter series.
This all points to an epic box office smash hit for Iger and Disney. Although internal estimates from Disney call for $2.6 billion in gross revenue, the film could very well surpass Avatar for the biggest all-time grossing film ($2.8 billion).
Despite the fantastic debut, Disney's stock traded more than 3% lower on last Friday, the day following the film's debut. DIS also lost another 1% during Monday's trading session. These losses on the stock market reflect the concerns that even with the success of The Force Awakens, it will be difficult for Disney to make up for what it's losing in its cable empire, which includes ABC and the ESPN family of sports networks.