The Star Wars movies are one of the most famous and successful film franchises ever. When the first film was released in just 42 theaters in 1977, few could have predicted that the franchise would be around decades later—much less trading hands between two huge film companies for more than $4 billion. That’s the price that Walt Disney (DIS) paid for Lucasfilm in 2012.1 The franchise accounted for the bulk of the deal’s value, though some consideration was paid to films in which Harrison Ford wears a funny hat.
The first Star Wars film spawned a number of prequels, sequels, stand-alone films, animated films, television series, and merchandise. Together, these products have raked in trillions of dollars. So why is the Star Wars franchise so valuable? What is its enduring appeal, and why does it resonate with so many people?
- The Star Wars franchise is one of the most successful in the world.
- Disney purchased the franchise from Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in 2012.2
- The success of the Star Wars franchise is due to three factors: great story, innovative marketing, and clever targeting of many demographics.
The Star Wars Numbers
The first Star Wars trilogy was released in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was followed by the second trilogy—known as the prequel trilogy—from 1999 to 2005. Thereafter, another sequel trilogy—this one to the original Star Wars trilogy—opened in theaters in 2015.
The final Star Wars film relating to the Skywalker saga was released in 2019. In addition to the nine films, three other Star Wars movies—distantly related to the main storyline—were made to keep fans sated. According to estimates, the 12 films have garnered more than $10 billion at the box office.3 Remember, that figure only includes box office receipts and does not take into account the billions of dollars that the franchise has made off its franchise deals and merchandising. And three more movies are reportedly in the works.
The amount of cash and stock spent for Disney to purchase the Star Wars franchise from Lucasfilm.