Estimates vary, but ’Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ is forecast to make up to $500m at the box office in its opening weekend, while according to Nomura Securities, the film could attain ticket sales of $3bn.
Macquarie Research estimates that merchandise sales will hit $5bn within the next year.
Even when there is no film release in the calendar, merchandise attracts sales of around $2bn a year
Even when there is not a Star Wars movie release in the calendar, merchandise attracts sales of around $2bn a year.
Star Wars practically invented the concept of movie merchandise. Certainly, the release of the original trilogy - when creator and director George Lucas cannily cut a deal whereby he retained all merchandise rights to the film - was accompanied by huge sales of Star Wars action figures and other branded merchandise.
The London School of Marketing has calculated that of the $28bn in sales to date for the entire franchise, only $4bn was generated through box office sales.
The first movie in the trilogy generated $2.1bn in sales, while the following two films - ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’ - took between $1.05bn and $1.3bn.
To date, DVD sales have amounted to more than $13bn, book sales to $1.8bn, video games have generated around $3.4bn and licensing and merchandising accrued about $1.8bn.
Jacques de Cock, faculty member at The London School of Marketing, said: "With this latest movie, the marketing started in September with 18 hours ‘live’ but sequential unveiling of toys on YouTube. Disney expects $5bn of toy sales in the first year.
"The clever part is the release of the movie, games, toys are planned to reinforce each other and create a multiplier effect.
He added: "Since Disney acquired the franchise in 2012, Star Wars has become less about the movie and more about how the franchise can be used within consumer products, games and theme parks."