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Is Disney's Lucasfilm Acquisition Already Paying Off?

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens unsurprisingly broke box office records. The latest episode of the storied franchise earned an estimated $238 million in its first three days domestically (this includes the $57 million in Thursday night "previews"), along with another $279 million internationally for a massive $517 million worldwide opening. These totals shattered the domestic box office opening weekend record of $208.8 million set by Jurassic World earlier this year.

(Also read " Can 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Become the Top Grossing Film of All Time? ")

Jurassic World still holds the record for top grossing film during foreign and worldwide opening weekends with totals of $316.1 million and $524.9 million respectively. However, The Force Awakens still has not debuted in China and India, two of the top five international box office markets according to the MPAA . The film is to be released in China on January 9 th , 2016 and in India on December 25 th .

The Force Awakens just has to make $37.1 million between China, India, and the other remaining international markets to simply meet Jurassic World's foreign gross total, which would in turn easily surpass the worldwide opening weekend gross totals.

How Disney Can Make the Return on Investment

A worldwide leader in entertainment, The Walt Disney Company ( DIS ) completed its purchase of Lucasfilm for a total of $4.06 billion back in December of 2012 - $2.21 billion in cash and roughly 37.1 million Disney shares at $50 per share - with plans to develop and release a new Star Wars trilogy and multiple spinoff films.

The Walt Disney Company (DIS) Stock Price - 10 Years | FindTheCompany

Since early December 2012, Disney stock has increased over 116%. Whether or not the purchase of Lucasfilm and the buzz around The Force Awakens directly correlates or caused the increase in stock prices, shareholders since 2012 should be ecstatic.

The Force Awakens' worldwide opening weekend revenue totals account for 12.7% of the Disney-Lucasfilm acquisition. If the film manages to gross the worldwide total of Jurassic World, the total would account for 41.1% of the acquisition. If The Force Awakens were to match the worldwide gross totals of either of the top two grossing films of all time - James Cameron's Avatar and Titanic - those totals would be 68.67% and 53.86% of the acquisition price, respectively. Furthermore, not only can The Force Awakens surpass any of these three films, this is only the first of the (currently) five confirmed Star Wars related films.

The Lucasfilm investment will pay off considerably for Disney. Even if The Force Awakens does not surpass the worldwide grosses of Avatar or Titanic, bringing in at least $2 billion during its theatrical run is not a farfetched total. If Episodes VIII and Episode IX each gross over $1 billion worldwide, then Disney would essentially break even on the acquisition just on the three films' theatrical run alone.

Bottom Line

If the spinoff films, merchandise sales, DVD/Blu Ray sales, etc., are at least marginally profitable, Disney will then begin to reap in profits. This, of course, all hinges on if the remaining films are of the same quality as The Force Awakens. The Force Awakens has a metascore of 81, a Rotten Tomatoes tomatometer of 95%, and an IMDB rating of 8.8. Despite the dissent of many enraged Star Wars fans nitpicking every single action of every single scene of the film (just read the negative reviews on Metacritic), the latest episode is wonderful. The claim can be made that The Force Awakens is the best Star Wars film of the franchise.

Rian Johnson - writer and director of Brick and Looper - is the man enlisted with writing and directing Episode VIII as well as writing the story for Episode IX (Colin Trevorrow, director of Jurassic World and Safety Not Guaranteed, will be directing the film). If you have seen either of Mr. Johnson's films, you will know that the Star Wars franchise is in very good hands.

The filmmakers Disney hired to develop a trilogy for an entire new generation clearly demonstrates that Disney wants these Star Wars films to succeed both critically and commercially. When you invest over $4 billion to obtain the rights to a beloved franchise in order to make new films, hiring Hollywood's top science fiction filmmakers is a must.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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