Star Wars: An OK movie, but a heck of a good investment!
Let me paraphrase Wolfman Jack and ask you: where were you in '77?
We remember this weekend the 40th anniversary of Star Wars. In my mind, the movie was O.K., but the return on the investment was really something else, as we see here:
The original Star Wars film is the third-highest-grossing film of all time, raking in close to $2 billion when adjusted for inflation. That alone would've made the original investment a spectacular one[.] ...
Although Gone with the Wind remains the highest-grossing film of all time (when adjusted for inflation over the 78 years since the film's first release), no single film can hold a candle to the money-making empire that Star Wars unleashed.
Spurring at least 10 lucrative sequels and prequels, five TV series, and multiple made-for-TV movies (so far), as well as billions of dollars in books and merchandise, Lucas couldn't possibly have imagined just how successful his creation would become over the next 40 years.
It was also a marketing bonanza. Every boy was Luke Skywalker, and every girl was Princess Leia:
The incredible success of Star Wars – it received seven Oscars, and earned $461 million in U.S. ticket sales and a gross of close to $800 million worldwide – began with an extensive, coordinated marketing push by Lucas and his studio, 20th Century Fox, months before the movie's release date. "It wasn't like a movie opening," actress Carrie Fisher, who played rebel leader Princess Leia, later told Time magazine. "It was like an earthquake." Beginning with – in Fisher's words – "a new order of geeks, enthusiastic young people with sleeping bags," the anticipation of a revolutionary movie-watching experience spread like wildfire, causing long lines in front of movie theaters across the country and around the world.
By fall, discotheques had young people dancing to a disco version of the theme song by Meco! By the way, Meco was Domenico Monardo, who once played in the Cadet Band at West Point.
And rest assured that the Force will be with you for a long time:
But the real money for Disney is in leveraging the Star Wars brand for just about anything it can think of: toys, games, merchandise, cruises, theme park rides, hotels. The list is endless and Disney is pursuing them all.
There will soon be a Star Wars-themed section of Disneyland and Disney World in California and Florida, where children and adults can spend their days riding Star Wars rides, drinking Star Wars drinks (blue milk, perhaps?), eating Star Wars food, sleeping in Star Wars rooms, and, of course, buying Star Wars swag.
Who would have believed any of this that Memorial Day weekend of 1977? I certainly didn't, and most of you probably didn't, either.
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