Special Report

The Force: Star Wars Franchise Worth Over $30 Billion and Growing

24/7 Wall St. has decided to calculate the total value of the Star Wars franchise ahead of the release of the 3D film “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” and while its ‘Star Wars: The Old Republic’ MMORPG video game is going strong.  Calculating a total value for a franchise this large and spanning 35 years is no easy task.  Our projections and figures are based upon existing data and also consider some loose projections ahead.  If you use the publicly available figures for Star Wars and consider more recent events, the total value is already over $30 billion.

Sources vary from all over the web, and mainstream media articles often have different figures when they are close together in time.  Official sales data is not updated all the time.  Still, the $30 billion franchise value is heading up now because of the 3D launch of “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” as the (probable) first but not last of the Star Wars remakes coming in 3D.

The relaunch of the movie franchise in 3D is likely to boost the franchise’s value much more when you count ticket sales, and then tally up merchandise sales, new media sales, product sales and more.  Box Office Mojo noted that The Phantom Menace in 3D is going to appear in 2,655 theaters.  Throw in the intellectual property values and future sales, and the value will head far north of $30 billion. 

It was just in 2007 that Forbes noted, “Star Wars’ initial release was followed by another five blockbuster films and a mini-industry of tapes and DVDs, toys, video games and books. Taken together over its 30 years of cultural dominance, the Star Wars franchise has earned more than $22 billion.”   Another figure in late 2011 put the total Star Wars franchise value at a whopping $27 billion from Statistic Brain (using Forbes and Lucasfilm data).  We also have gathered more recent data than those prior calculations.

Star Wars creator George Lucas is now a multi-billionaire.  The Forbes wealthiest 400 list puts Lucas at a net worth of $3.2 billion in its September 2011 report and that is lower than the $3.6 billion in a prior report.

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Another 2007 figure used by Forbes was a monstrous $9 billion in toys with another $1.6 billion at the time having been generated by Star Wars video games.  More toys have sold since then, and more video game sales have been seen.

Brand new data from Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) shows over 2 million MMORPG have sold of ‘Star Wars: The Old Republic’ through the end of January with some 1.7 million online users.  Taking just half of the users with a two-month average life of subscriber dollars comes to $180 million in total revenues between sales and subscriptions in just the first quarter of 2012.  Then there will be the tail revenue stream from loyalists and those in the next upgrade coming soon, generating millions of dollars more each month. If the success remains, a business mind would easily predict another MMORPG sale in the future.

Lucas Licensing of Lucasfilms has noted over $20 billion in consumer sales worldwide.  This includes Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS) and Kenner toys, merchandise sold, over 100 million books sold (with over 80 New York Times best sellers), museum exhibitions, apparel, consumer electronics, housewares, and the endless lines of other products.  The $20 billion figure has been used for quite some time as well by Lucasfilm on its site.  Imagine the sales that will soon be counted if you just looked at the major retail store websites: Toys R Us had 603 items; WalMart had 539 items; and Target had 800 items.

The Total Value of Star Wars Today…

  • $4.27 Billion in worldwide box office sales (See full chart below), not adjusted for ticket price hikes in today’s dollars
  • $20 billion in Licensing sales (toys, books, apparel, consumer products, and on)
  • $3 billion in video games (over 100 million units sold)
  • $2.5 billion, and climbing, in DVD sales
  • $800 million (or more) and climbing in movie rentals (going from DVD back to VHS and even Betamax)

THE GRAND TOTAL… $30.57 BILLION, and growing…

Forget about the $30.5 billion in total sales so far.  That assumes that all sales suddenly stop in the next few weeks. We will not count the $3.2 billion in net worth of George Lucas because that is a personal net worth even if there is overlap in some of the areas we would cover.

What is the value of all of the intellectual property?  Imagine if George Lucas just decided to put the entire Star Wars brand up for sale.  No one has calculated that value in detail and it would be a guess.  Private equity firms, large media companies, and eccentric billionaires would be clamoring to sign confidentiality pacts to see if they could buy the rights to all of the Star Wars franchise.  Owning the rights and intellectual property in the future would be worth much more than just millions of dollars.  Would it sell for $1 billion? $2 billion? $10 billion? 

What about future films?  Just picking up a new trilogy for films 7, 8, and 9 while the original Star Wars cast is still alive for cameos would generate untold sales.  The first film alone would have to eclipse Avatar, particularly if George Lucas allowed someone else to write the script.  There have been four seasons of Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated shows and we have not even included that in the value for ad sales.

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What is the value of the StarWars.com website?  Alexa’s traffic ranking gives Star Wars the rank of 2,993 in the United States.  It has been around since the 1990s and has had millions of visitors.  You know that around large releases its traffic statistics have to get even better than that.  Facebook’s official Star Wars page has 6.8 million “likes.”

What about the knock-offs and the endless rip-offs of unlicensed sales?  Capturing just 10% of the royalties from the sales from illegal product sales manufactured and published would be a giant bump.  Spread over all of the video games, books, movies, tee-shirts, apparel, toys, and other knockoff items illegally sold would be massive.  Has there been $1 billion in illegal Star Wars product sales in the life of Star Wars?  That is not even $30 million in illegal sales in each of the last 35 years. 

What about the resale market? The resale market of second-hand books, used DVDs, merchandise, eBay, Amazon, garage sales and more is huge.  Think about the after-market collectibles sales at Star Wars and comic conventions.  Almost zero goes back to Lucas Licensing, but that has to be a minimum of another $1 billion over the years.  Again, that is not even an average of $30 million per year.  Hint: Amazon has 80,821 items and eBay had 383,230 results for shoppers or bidders.

There have been many offshoots of Star Wars, many of which are documentaries and spoofs.  Many comedians have used Star Wars as the basis for their skits, and there have probably been thousands of Star Wars fan clubs on campuses which spend money and exchange goods on all things tied to Star Wars.  CafePress.com has very little official Star Wars merchandise, but it has untold numbers of items for sale that are obviously styled after Star Wars.

It seems that $30.5 billion is a massive number, and it a massive number that undercuts the real future value after today. The Force is strong, even when it is weak.  Maybe George Lucas should consider an IPO.

JON C. OGG

Sources: Lucasfilm; Lucas Licensing; Box Office Mojo; Forbes; Statistic Brain for reference; NPD; GameStop; Electronic Arts; GameStop; StarWars.com; VGchartz.com; HollywoodReporter.com.

Movies Total $4.277 Billion, unadjusted for inflation GROSS ($MIL)
Star Wars (1977) 775
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back 538
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi 475
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace 924
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones 649
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith 848
Star Wars: The Clone Wars 68

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