Disney (NYSE:DIS) recently released Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker film, which was one of the most anticipated films of the year and has already earned $500 million worldwide.

But ticket sales are only half of the story. Disney will benefit from the movie long after the film has left the theaters.

In this video from our YouTube channel, we take a look at how important the Star Wars franchise is for Disney and why the characters and stories will continue to generate huge sales for the company for years to come. 

Narrator: Star Wars and its seemingly unending list of characters and storylines has captured the attention of fans for more than 40 years. 

And over this time, the stories originally created by George Lucas have spawned 11 feature films, a growing list of TV shows, and more Star Wars toys than Endor has forests. 

There may be no other entertainment franchise in the U.S. that's enjoyed the same long-term success as Star Wars, and that's why in this episode of The Bottom Line we're taking a closer look at how the space opera about a moisture farmer from Tatooine has become an out of this world success for Disney. 

Disney hasn't always owned Star Wars of course. The company acquired the franchise from George Lucas back in 2012 for just over $4 billion.  

That may seem like a huge sum, but Disney has earned back its initial investment, and plenty more, since then. 

Take, for example, the latest films in the Star Wars saga. Since Disney's purchase, there have been four new Star Wars films, and the fifth one -- the last installment of the newest trilogy -- is about to be released. 

These four films have grossed combined worldwide ticket sales of more $4.8 billion. This makes Star Wars the No. 2 top-grossing film franchise, second only to the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, which is also owned by Disney. 

Each one of the Star Wars films released under Disney has brought in $1 billion or more in ticket sales, save for Solo, which was only made $450 million. The Force Awakens, the first film of the latest trilogy, earned more than $2 billion in worldwide ticket sales alone.

And Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker film is likely to be Death Star-sized success for Disney as the film will be the final conclusion to the original Star Wars story that began back in 1977.

But aside from making money hand over fist from blockbuster Star Wars films, Disney is also using the franchise to launch its new video streaming service into hyperspace.

One of the biggest draws to the company's new streaming service, called Disney+, has been the first live-action Star Wars show called The Mandalorian

Disney+ boasted more than 10 million subscribers just a few weeks after it launched and while it's not clear that The Mandalorian is the biggest contributing factor to these sign-ups because well, it's easier to steal plans for the Death Star than it is to get video figures from Disney, it's likely that the new show has had a significant positive impact on Disney+'s early success. 

Bob Iger, Walt Disney's CEO, said on the company's recent earnings call that,

"The first live-action Star Wars series is unlike anything audiences have seen before on any platform and it's a strong indication of the quality in the storytelling that will define Disney+." 

It appears that this move is already paying off for Disney, because according to some third-party data, The Mandalorian is one of the most in-demand TV shows right now, outpacing Netflix's Stranger Things, based on streaming data, social media engagement, and other online research metrics.

And in true Disney fashion, the company is poised to capitalize on this Star Wars interest to the fullest degree. 

Disney already has an Obi-Wan live-action show, starring Ewan McGregor reprising his role from the prequel trilogy, that will debut on Disney+ some time in 2021. 

Additionally, Disney will also release another live-action show based on Rogue One character, Cassian Andor, that will be a prequel to the 2016 movie.

The combination of classic Star Wars films and brand new shows means that Disney has an unprecedented potential to benefit from Star Wars on its new streaming service. 

But there's two more ways that Disney is benefiting from its Star Wars purchase: an it involves turnstiles and toys -- lots and lots of toys

Just before The Force Awakens hit theaters theaters in 2015, Disney launched a massive Force Friday event where coordinated unboxing videos of new Star Wars merchandise were shown on YouTube, just as the merchandise was hitting store shelves and online stores worldwide. 

Force Friday was a massive success for Disney and spurred an estimated $1 billion in sales in just one day.

Of course, that wasn't the extent of sales. The estimated 12-month sales of Star Wars merchandise in the year following the The Force Awakens' release is between $3 billion to $5 billion. 

And last, but certainly not least, Disney is just beginning to benefit from Star Wars through its new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge lands that recently opened at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. 

Each park came with a price tag of about $1 billion and while some reports indicated that initial demand wasn't strong for Galaxy's Edge, Disney has pushed back on the suggestion.

The chairman of Disney's Parks, Experiences and Consumer Experiences, Bob Chapek, has said that "I will tell you that Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge has exceeded every expectation we've had."

Disney's parks are an extremely important part of the company's overall business. For the full fiscal 2019 year, revenue from its parks, experiences, and products segment increased by 6% to more than $26 billion.

With the new Star Wars lands just getting started, there's plenty of time for Disney to reap the rewards from future travelers to the outer rim. 

Disney has perfected the system of creating massive box-office hits that become vehicles for selling merchandise and theme park tickets long after the films leave theaters. 

With Star Wars, Disney is plugging in an extremely popular story and characters into its lucrative formula, to generate billions of dollars for years to come. 

And with the company benefiting from Star Wars in entirely new ways through its new video streaming service, there's virtually no end to how valuable this interstellar franchise will be for Disney.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.