May 9, 2015 – Which segment of the Star Wars empire brings in the most revenue? Is it the movies? DVD’s and books? Toys?
Toy sales, by far, account for the lion’s share of revenue. The following chart from StatisticBrain.com shows just how much toy merchandise income trumps all other income streams.
Even when you combine worldwide box office receipts from all six Star Wars movies with Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie ($4.277 billion) and throw in DVD sales ($3.775 billion), they total only a little over $8 billion. This represents just two-thirds of toy sales revenue ($12 billion), or just under 30% of the entire Star Wars juggernaut.
The above numbers were compiled through 15 April 2015.
Financially, the biggest winners have been George Lucas (net worth $3.6B) and the Walt Disney Company, which bought Lucasfilm in October, 2012, for a bargain price of $4.05 billion.
Revenue from games and toys alone in one year (2014) was $1.5 billion, so Disney’s initial investment has already been recouped. With the December 2015 release of The Force Awakens, Disney will be reaping a financial windfall every day going forward.
And the biggest “missed opportunity” loser? That would probably be 20th Century Fox. The board of directors at Fox agreed to allow Lucas to keep all licensing and merchandising rights when they green-lit the original Star Wars (1977) film. In exchange, Lucas waived an additional $500,000 in directing fees. Fox’s decision would end up costing the studio billions of dollars.
On the other hand, Fox still profited handsomely as it owned the movie rights. And the board and management should not be heard to complain too loudly. After all, a majority of Fox executives and board directors actually disagreed with George Lucas’ space western proposal, as did many other studios. It wasn’t until Fox executive Alan Ladd, Jr., championed Lucas’ proposal, that the board reluctantly agreed to invest in, and not shut down, the very first Star Wars film.