The New "Star Wars" Will Be the Next $2 Billion Movie

Only two films in history have ever grossed more than $2 billion at the worldwide box office, with director James Cameron responsible for both: Avatar and Titanic.

He may have company come 2015, when J.J. Abrams unleashes the next episode in the Star Wars saga to a hungry audience. To be fair, it's easy to speculate this early in the game. Yet all signs suggest that Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) will put muscle and talent behind the franchise, which it spent $4 billion to acquire.

In the following video, Tim Beyers of Motley Fool Rule Breakers and Motley Fool Supernova explains clues revealed in a recent interview Abrams gave to Empire magazine. Please watch, and then leave a comment to let us know what you think of Disney's plans to extend the franchise.

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Read/Post Comments (9) | Recommend This Article (4)

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  • Report this Comment On March 27, 2013, at 10:33 PM, 1library wrote:

    "The new Star Wars will be the next two million dollar movie!" Umm what's it going to be about? I HAVE NO FREAKIN IDEA........

  • Report this Comment On March 27, 2013, at 10:36 PM, Trent82 wrote:

    DO THE MATH.

    Episode I is the highest grossing of ALL "Star Wars" movies in actual dollars, with just over $1 billion. The films that followed did not do as well, with Episode III grossing slightly less than $850 million worldwide.

    What does that tell us? Why is that relevant? Because "Star Wars," despite the constant media hype (which is, very possibly, to its detriment), has a ceiling to how much it can pull in. Some people, a great number of people, simply don't want to see a "Star Wars" film.

    To get to $2 billion, it would need to perform nearly SEVEN TIMES better than J.J. Abrams' reboot of "Star Trek." It would need to pull in women and senior citizens and people who have no interest in "Star Wars."

    So far, in 40 years, "Star Wars" has lived up to this impossibly high bar once ... in 1977, when there was no DVD or VOD to cannibalize the box office.

    The amount of hype being heaped onto a movie that is, at best, two years away from being released is astounding, and I hope Disney/Lucasfilm are smart enough to try to tone it down rather than encourage it, because at this point, it's going to need to be the BIGGEST FILM OF ALL TIME in order to live up to impossibly high expectations. George Lucas was always exceedingly modest about his ambitions and expectations, but Disney seems only to be encouraging this.

  • Report this Comment On March 28, 2013, at 12:29 AM, Hyerstandards wrote:

    All I'm gonna say is this: As an avid Star Wars fan who has been following the movies since the '70's (yeah i'm one of them) I really hope the people creating this new movie are gonna take the time to get it RIGHT. The creators of Episode VII need to realize that they have a lot riding on this movie. This is probably without question one of the largest fan bases in the world. You guys (and you know who you are) have to make a whole entire planet absolutely convinced that this is Star Wars Episode VII a worthy sequel to one of the greatest motion picture trilogies ever conceived based on success alone. IF YOU DO NOT GET THIS RIGHT you will have approximately 2 billion very angry people on your hands, I being one of them. I grew up on this stuff. I was 5 when Episode IV was in the theaters. PLEASE DO NOT RUIN A GREAT FANTASY FOR MILLIONS OF PEOPLE JUST FOR THE SAKE OF MAKING MONEY. NO 3D PLEASE!!! Just get Harrison, Carrie and Mark to come back together with the old crew and make a damn good Star Wars flick. One disappointing trilogy is enough (Episode III was alright). This better rock my world. Deuces.

  • Report this Comment On March 28, 2013, at 12:52 AM, esxokm wrote:

    Trent82,

    Excellent post. What you say is true, and it sort of relates to my comment.

    Tim, although I'm not necessarily a fan of Iger's acquisition strategy (I sometimes wonder whether higher dividend payments would have been preferrable to multi-billion-dollar purchases with a lot of goodwill attached) I will say that it is difficult to argue that the stock will benefit from its association with Star Wars.

    But here's a question: should Disney try to turn this into a $2 billion global-grossing film? In other words, should Disney take the risk of sacrificing top-line revenue for purposes of being conservative in terms of the cost of production and marketing since there is no way to know if the movie will be a hit or not?

    That's what I worry about: how does Disney truly maximize its investment in the next Star Wars film? You have to wonder how much leverage Disney has in being conservative on costs and marketing, and where it can show the film. If Abrams and others like Ford are profit participants, there may be a high minimum of marketing costs attached to the project (not sure if stars make something like this a part of their deals, but I would have to assume they sometimes do, at least the bigger ones). And a not insignifcant amount of what's left over of that $2 billion after the cut with the theaters and after costs I would have to presume will make its way to Abrams, Ford, and others (here's a question: when Disney purchased Lucasfilm, does the company have to pay him a percentage of the profits of future Star Wars films?).

    If Iger were able to negotiate flat fees for all participants, I would call the guy a genius. But his decision to simply acquire growth by buying big brands actually represents a simplistic path to shareholder value.

    $2 billion will represent a lot of money for Disney, but it's worth noting that George Lucas spent $120 million, roughly, on each of his prequel films, with some reports implying the low number was because he managed his own special effects company. If Disney can make the next film for $120 million and only market the movie on its own platforms (really, how much marketing does the film need?), then this would be a great risk. What would make it an even greater risk is if Disney paid all participants only once (it would also Disney not to worry about selling ancillary rights below market value to its own platforms). Barring that, if Disney wants to essentially buy the participants out of their profit claims, Disney should maybe float stock to the tune of say $300 million and take all rights and then buy it back as the money rolls in.

  • Report this Comment On March 28, 2013, at 12:55 AM, esxokm wrote:

    Left out a crucial word in the above.

    Second paragraph is missing a 'not.' It should read:

    "...I will say that it is difficult to argue that the stock will not benefit from its association with Star Wars."

    Enjoyed your analysis, Tim. And I hope Disney does well with the movies.

  • Report this Comment On March 28, 2013, at 1:37 AM, barnity wrote:

    Disney did not pay 4 billion dollars to G. Lucas for the rights to make the last 3 Star Wars films alone. What they did was buy "Lucasfilm, Lucasdigital, and Skywalker Sound". This in itself is a well -worth investment. Not only are the final 3 installments included in this but rights to ALL projects in the pipeline. And this will turn out to be MANY! George was, and is of course, a modern-day Jules Verne. He could never make all the films he wanted because his storytelling is boundless. He could've asked for 10 billion and Disney would have handed him suitcases full of dough. As far as the next Star Wars films grossing over 2 bil worldwide, it's not going to happen. 1- 1.3 is tops for a sequel The only over 2 bil movies were original scripts. And individuals make those kinds of films like George did in the beginning. But in the end, Disney will reap the benefits of all it has bought. I will buy stock in this co. because of this purchase.

  • Report this Comment On March 28, 2013, at 3:22 AM, CaptainBacon wrote:

    If the movie if mediocre, it will pull in around 1 billion. If it is well made and marketed it could pull in 2 billion.

  • Report this Comment On March 28, 2013, at 3:48 AM, fendermatt wrote:

    Prequels aside, there is insane pent-up demand for a sequel to the classic trilogy, and with JJ Abrams in the director's chair and the original actors involved, the sky is the limit. And that sky is likely 2+ billion bucks.

    Abrams is a Spielberg protégé, with a keen eye for characterization and the ability to emulate the look and feel of a particular work and director (a la Super 8 with Spielberg).

    JJ is going to finesse the film and coax out the best performances possible. Disney has put the right people in place to take Lucas's knack for storytelling and combine it with a superior script and conventional effects that evoke the classic trilogy, but with 21st century polish.

  • Report this Comment On April 07, 2013, at 2:37 PM, Giftedly wrote:

    I see too many plot holes. Who will the new villain be? Vader and Palotine are dead, it can't be just a movie with Villains, it wouldn't fit.

    "From the creators who brought you Cinderella & Snow White, comes a new magical tale.

    Starwars, episode 7: The Death of Star Wars."

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