Disney, Star Wars, and Billions of Dollars

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A 60 Minutes tweet and report suggest that the latest Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, needs to make $1.5 BILLION to be considered a success. That number seems pretty high considering the movie cost just $220 million to make, and even a huge marketing number gets you nowhere near $1.5 Billion.

Frankly, one wonders how much of the marketing budget was a big waste of money considering how many Star Wars fans (and not really fans) raced to watch, post about, and talk about every single Force Awakens trailer released. In fact, if I ran Disney, I’d fire whoever authorized so much marketing spending, for that same reason.

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The movie is actually poised to do very well. After George Lucas all but ruined the Star Wars brand among fans with the prequel movies, the sell-out to Disney was actually welcome news, especially when the company announced Sci-Fi favorite J.J. Abrams would be directing. I think most fans were equally relieved to find out that Lucas had virtually nothing to do with the script either.

So, why the worry?

Disney paid $4 billion for the Star Wars franchise. $4 billion is a lot of money, even for a company as large as Disney. That’s why the once proud franchise has been pimped out for every single product sponsorship ever. There are Star Wars themed car ads, Star Wars themed Cambell’s soups. It seems like Disney is trying to earn that $4 billion back in a big hurry. One can only wonder if the company reached too far in its purchase.

For almost any other brand, this level of uncurated, any product, any time, any where, marketing could have been a big problem. But, it’s been a long time since the last Star Wars movie, and even longer since the last “good” Star Wars movie, so America is, for the time being, able to soak up the ever increasing silliness of various Star Wars themed products and events.

However, this pyramid scheme all rests squarely on The Force Awakens actually delivering the goods and not only reinvigorating the Star Wars fans, but ensnaring the next generation of them as well. Otherwise, Disney will find it can’t sell enough branding rights in the entire world to recoup the $4 billion it spent, especially since they were so blatantly oversold this time around.

On the other hand, if The Force Awakens is a big hit, then everyone will want back in, and Disney can go back to having some dignity as it tries to recoup its large investment in a reasonable time frame.

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