In Brief

Star Wars: Disney awakens the Force Friday sales potential

Analysts sale tie-ins could bring in $5bn, with toys alone predicted to bring in sales of $1bn this year

When Disney acquired Lucasfilm for $4bn (£2.6bn) in 2011, few doubted the move would yield a healthy return. But the global hysteria over the launch of the first batch of toys that tie in to the new Star Wars film, which comes out in December, underlines just how lucrative it could prove to be.

Fortune notes that the purchase included not only rights to box office takings and royalties on films, but also "licensing fees for all accompanying toys, apparel, video games, and even drones, among other gear".

The potential has been evident since the original Star Wars was released in 1977, and "unprecedented demand for action figures… caught toy maker Kenner Products off guard, and it was forced to sell IOUs to the brand's earliest fanatics". Disney clearly has no intention of letting the opportunity pass.

Still three months before the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, the company coordinated a global launch of official toys beginning at midnight last night, prompting a wave of social media hype and even a four-hour live feed of ceremonial "unboxings" on YouTube.

In total, Disney and its partners, Hasbro, Lego and Toys R Us are expected to generate income of $1bn in what little remains of 2015. Total global merchandising revenues for the firms that have "put up serious money" to share licensing rights could reach $5bn.

In 1999, the year of the first of the Star Wars 'prequel', Episode I: the Phantom Menace, Hasbro made annual revenue of $4.2bn, up from $3.3bn the previsous year. "Star Wars gear accounted for 36 per cent of Hasbro's US revenue that year," says Fortune.

The Mirror says the 'Force Friday' event will not be a one-off. Although the first batch of toys gave few clues to the closely guarded secrets of the new film, "an additional wave of products[will] be released closer to the film's debut, when fans will be able to find additional items featuring the newest characters, including Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma, BB-8 and more".

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