Boba Fett Movie Shows How Disney Turns Characters Into Profits

A year after Disney's  (NYSE: DIS  )  $4 billion Lucasfilm megapurchase, news continues to trickle in on its plans for its newly acquired properties. The new Star Wars trilogy is already under way, and two other "mystery" films are slated in between the trilogy films's releases. Now Metalocalypse director John Schnepp is adding to the suspense by "confirming" that one of these is a Boba Fett solo film.

All Lucafilm properties -- the greatest of which is the Star Wars property -- will be changed in how they are presented on film. These changes jive better with Disney's business strategy and make the Lucasfilm acquisition one of the smartest business moves this decade...and Boba Fett proves it. Simply put, Disney bets it can make billions by leveraging the thousands of new characters it's acquired.

Boba Fett: The Movie
First things first: John Schnepp is not the last word on the mystery Star Wars films. He refused to cite his source, yet was bold enough to say in an AMC movie talk interview that he "knows for a fact" that Boba Fett is getting his own film. This is still a rumor until confirmed by Disney, but if nothing else, it's a really good rumor.

As long as the Star Wars Universe remained under Lucasfilm, a Boba Fett solo film was unlikely. The six released films have all centered on a single story: the Sith vs. the Jedi with the entire fate of the galaxy at stake. These films don't center on any one person. There are stars such as Darth Vadar and Han Solo, but they are only important as they relate to the story itself. For this reason, Disney's plan of character-based solo films -- such as Boba Fett, Yoda, or Han Solo -- is a sharp deviation from the Star Wars films historically.

It may seem strange that a character who's appearance in the Star Wars films was very brief (and his dialogue even briefer) would even be a consideration for a solo film. But in reality the character has quite a cult following. Fandomania.com ranked him the 84th greatest fictional character of all-time -- just below Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz -- which makes a solo film seem viable.

Character-based vs. story-based
Disney is known for being a character-based studio. Once it has a character in its arsenal, it can do anything with it. It's able to take the dark villain Maleficent from its 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty, and turn her into the star of her own upcoming movie. It took Captain Hook and Smee -- antagonists from the classic Peter Pan -- and turned them into the antagonists of the wildly successful Jake and the Neverland Pirates TV show. Disney loves creating, using, and reusing characters.

This differs from more story-based studios. Besides the Saw franchise, Lions Gate  (NYSE: LGF  )  rarely makes a sequel, and never pulls a character from one property to create an entirely new property. That's not to say Lions Gate makes bad movies, it only demonstrates that Lions Gate doesn't leverage a property like Disney does.

The economics of the Marvel purchase
The business advantage of being a character-based studio is the ability to better leverage properties for higher revenue. This is illustrated well with Disney's purchase of Marvel. This was seen by some as just purchasing the Avengers film series, but Disney got way more than that.

Marvel boasts more than 9,000 characters under its roof. The movie rights for some characters belong to other studios -- such as X-Men and Fantastic Four and all their supporting characters, which belong to 21st Century Fox  (NASDAQ: FOXA  )  -- so an exact character count is difficult. But even if Disney acquired the rights to just half of Marvel's characters, it still paid under $1 million per character. Granted, characters like Rocket Racer and Bird-Brain remind us that not every character in the Marvel universe is movie-worthy, but many -- possibly hundreds -- could be. New characters such as Ant-man, the Black Panther, and Dr. Strange are currently in development and could become their own movie franchises.

Beyond big-screen success, TV is another venue where Disney can leverage the Marvel properties. It's currently finishing up season one of its Agents of SHIELD property, which airs on its own ABC. But now Disney is leveraging its Marvel properties further with its recent deal with Netflix  (NASDAQ: NFLX  )  to develop five (!) TV series based around The Defenders. This a team made up of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage. Netflix is set to produce each series with each team member receiving its own 13-episode season, before culminating in a crossover series a la Avengers. These series will be available exclusively on Netflix starting in 2015.

May the conclusion be with you
The general perception is that Disney paid $4 billion to make the next Star Wars trilogy -- seemingly overpaying. But remember, leveraging characters is how Disney makes money. Whatever it's done with its Marvel characters, it will also do with dozens of Lucasfilm characters. These characters -- once developed in the entertainment arena -- can be further leveraged down the road with Disney's theme parks and merchandise divisions.

Boba Fett is such a small character, but he's a big illustration Disney's ability to leverage its massive character base for years to come.

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Read/Post Comments (26) | Recommend This Article (16)

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  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 11:17 AM, MartyTheCanuck wrote:

    Thanks. Very informative article.

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 11:37 AM, thequast wrote:

    @MartyTheCanuck

    Glad you enjoyed. I'm personally a Star Wars and Marvel follower, so this piece was a joy to research. I hope the information here will be beneficial for you.

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 1:03 PM, BHGamer wrote:

    if you want to know what happens to Boba Fett then just read Tales from Jaba's Palace, which is a collection of stories from different character perspectives that takes place during Return of the Jedi and the rescue of Leah and Solo. Boba Fett is one of the stories and it does tell of what happens to him AFTER he goes flying into the Sarlac.

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 1:36 PM, BHGamer wrote:

    if you want to know what happens to Boba Fett then just read Tales from Jaba's Palace, which is a collection of stories from different character perspectives that takes place during Return of the Jedi and the rescue of Leah and Solo. Boba Fett is one of the stories and it does tell of what happens to him AFTER he goes flying into the Sarlac.

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 1:41 PM, rockmusic2011 wrote:

    Good article, but Lionsgate comes out with sequels and is planning to. They have Summit Entertainment, who, I'm sure their key goal in having that was to have the Twilight franchise. They came out with Hunger Games, which will have two more films, and they are coming out with Divergent. They also have the Expendables. While they don't distribute character films, they do have sequels and exploit the "last film, two movies."

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 1:42 PM, thequast wrote:

    @BHGamer

    Thanks for the info. If Boba Fett indeed gets his own film, it'll be interesting when the movie takes place: before or after Empire Strikes Back. Either way, I'm game :)

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 1:50 PM, thequast wrote:

    @rockmusic 2011

    Fair enough, you're right Lionsgate does do sequels...it seems to me that it does less overall than other studios, but that would cause us to stray from more of the thrust of my point which was to contrast story based and character based.

    Thanks for reading and reminding us about Summit Entertainment.

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 1:54 PM, xxgrendelxx wrote:

    "Disney loves creating, using, and reusing characters."

    Read: milking their properties for every last dime, over-saturating the entertainment market until the public finds their product as bland and uneventful as a ham sandwich.

    Disney used to appreciate the concept and market value of restraint and rarity. They only re-released their iconic films every ten years or so and like-wise on home video, if ever. As such, each re-release was an event to be enjoyed as special. Now, their philosophy is "more is better" - crowd the competition.

    The magic of popular characters like Wolverine, the Punisher and Hannibal Lecter was that they were initially rare. Their page or screen time minimal but rich. Once these properties were given top billing and the thrill wore off the public soon tired of them - but hey! their copyright owners made their money (all that was to be made) so who cares?

    Then there are people like me who barely acknowledge the existence of the final two original Star wars films, who remember fondly when Wolverine was only another member of the X-Men team and the Punisher an occasional but fascinating villain for Spider-Man. These characters were the bacon on a BLT - a dash of rich flavor to excite the palate though the nourishment and depth remained with the other ingredients, never meant to be the main event alone. In excess, the flavor becomes monotonous and overly familiar - the thrill is gone.

    Perhaps the bottom line is that the special quality of rarity is free, it resides with the individual and their perception, memory and taste. To the corporate mind that is unacceptable: all facets of a property must be paid for in full in order to be publicly enjoyed. If it isn't making them money, it isn't of value. Sentiment doesn't cost anything, its value is intrinsic and thus worthless to the money minded.

    All we needed to know about Boba Fett was shown in his 20 minutes of screen time - hours of him will kill the mystery that remains and place him side by side with the ham sandwiches of the world.

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 2:35 PM, TXObjectivist75 wrote:

    I figure Iron Man, Han Solo and Captain America action figures will be in Toy Story 4. :)

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 2:47 PM, Macksimum wrote:

    There are a number of novels in the SW Expanded Universe that delve into Boba Fett's story, both before, during and after the events of teh original SW movies. The Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy is an excellent read focusing almost completely on Fett and does a remarkable job of delving into his very cold, calculating psyche whereas a number of the novels in the Legacy of the Force series deal with a more "human" side of the aging Fett as he deals with discovering he has family (a daughter and granddaughter) plus being called upon once again be a leader to his fellow Mandolorians and even to train his long standing rival's daughter (Jaina Solo) in the ways of a bounty-hunter/assassin.

    All of this, of course, means exactly jack-diddly-squat since Disney is going to flush it all down the toilet and completely disregard all the work and efforts of every last author of the Expanded Universe straight down the toilet. This new Fett movie is going to be nothing but a train-wreck for every dedicated fan of Boba Fett that knows his already established story inside and out and has been praying for it to be masterfully brought to the silver screen.

    I couldn't possibly have any less respect for Disney if they did a cartoon short of Mickey Mouse whizzing in the Pope's Cornflakes and giving the U.S. of A. a huge middle finger whilst wrapped stark naked in an upside down American flag.

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 2:57 PM, thequast wrote:

    @TXObjectivist75

    Mind. Just. Blown. Haha, wouldn't that be crazy? Thanks for reading

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 3:00 PM, thequast wrote:

    @ xxgrendelxx and @ Macksimum

    I can appreciate your concern of what you hold as a fantastic character being watered down for the masses. I felt the same way when Voyage of the Dawn Treader strayed so far from the source material of C.S. Lewis.

    This article tried to focus more on the business side of this argument. For better or for worse, it makes great business sense for these solo films to go forward.

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 6:43 PM, wraiththirteen wrote:

    if disney respects the extended universe, which has millions upon millions of fans then it will be the best movie of the year. If Disney decides to ignore everything the extended universe did it will flop hard.

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 7:39 PM, DawnShrewsbury wrote:

    so is Boba Fett portrayed in this movie as a cartoon character or is it actually going to be a good movie where it is live action with NO cartoon characters?

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 8:02 PM, Firesnap wrote:

    @xxgrendalxx, nice name btw, we live in a money hungry society, I agree Wolverine was a second class X-Man, but could producers push story driven characters like Colossus, or Havoc, Chris Claremont made the X universe and Wolverine a geeks household name! How about an Alpha Flight movie? Food for thought

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 8:09 PM, Sargonarhes wrote:

    If Disney is character driven rather than story driven, then it's no wonder I'd rather watch anime instead. Sure there are character driven anime, but I'm more into the anime series like Gundam and Legend of Galactic Heroes which are story driven. Because nothing says war is tragic more than a hero dieing, and Gundam's creator "Kill'em All" Tomino has given us plenty of that.

    Disney is just going to milk Star Wars for everything it can, just as it has with Marvel. Actually Marvel has milked it's characters itself for years, I mean how often has some one died only to return?

    Now Disney had a chance to tell a story driven series years ago with Gargoyles, but somewhere they lost the momentum and it just became more character based.

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2014, at 9:26 PM, geoprime73 wrote:

    and this is where Disney will start ruining the star wars universe... I dont know why they think an over rated character needs his own movie... but that is why Disney will ruin it... who is next? the bar tender at the canina on tatooine? maybe the slave girl that Jabba dropped into the rancor pit... come on Disney, everyone needs a movie of there own...

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2014, at 7:56 AM, Jagstang wrote:

    Who is "Darth Vadar"?

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2014, at 8:09 AM, thequast wrote:

    @Jagstang

    Darth Vadar is Darth Vader's nemesis, constantly using the force to try to get him to misspell things on official Empire documents at the ridicule of his subordinates.

    But seriously, sorry for the typo on the name and thanks for catching it

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2014, at 11:31 AM, LasVegasIRA wrote:

    "These changes jive better with Disney's business strategy..."

    Mr. Quast, you're supposed to be a professional writer. Can you please learn the difference between the words "jive" and "jibe?"

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2014, at 11:40 AM, pindexter wrote:

    I'd like to see Dexter Jettster in a Star Wars combat movie. He is a veteran.

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2014, at 1:04 PM, thequast wrote:

    @LasVegasIRA

    Just went to school on Dictionary.com and learned the difference. Ironic that jive means "foolish talk". Don't think I'll ever make that mistake again.

    Hope the error didn't keep you from taking away something useful.

  • Report this Comment On January 11, 2014, at 2:32 PM, LasVegasIRA wrote:

    Mr. Quast, I'm going to assume its a typo, but the word you want is "jibe" not "jive".

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 6:05 AM, ectogamit wrote:

    Probably only .5% of the population would care if it said jive or jibe. No one else would notice or care. The other 99.5% of the population has never even seen the word jibe. Auditorily, never seeing it, jive and jibe would easily be swapped. Probably why the writer used jive to begin with. To jive with something generally would be understood (incorrect or not) by most non-English Majors as "to be harmonious with". Jive having its musical background and all.

    jive and jibe are not all that different in meaning:

    jibe is also a variant spelling of gibe

    "gibe - to make insulting or mocking remarks; jeer."

    I am wondering if it's based on the exact same Latin origin. I'm to lazy to look.

    While jibe seems to fit better via definition, its not that critical for understanding of the sentence.

    I heard if you can find a second use of a word, in this case "jive", meaning harmonious in a published work you can submit it to try to get it entered as an authentic definition. but that might just be for new words.

    Just my 3 cents of input there. Yes your opinion is only worth 2! If you can jive er i mean, jibe with that. ;-)

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 6:25 AM, Alericc wrote:

    Disney has already shown they they have no clue who or what makes the SW universe unique and appealing to so many fans. They put in charge someone to narrow down the expanded universe and the guy states that the SW Holiday special is not canon. Boba Fett was introduced in this special and no matter how bad the show was it contained ONE iconic figure that moved Lucas to have him included as a cameo for Empire.

    Sorry but I am not going to hold my breath for anything of quality coming with the likes of JJ Abrams being given the reins of the new movie. Flash over substance is all these movies will be.

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 10:22 AM, Mcohen1 wrote:

    Can anyone give us some real entertainment?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhRE3-vRNzc

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