The Telegraph: “John Carter” Was Proof That Disney Needed Star Wars

Other Stuff

From the Telegraph

First Pixar, then Marvel and now Lucasfilm – entertainment giant Disney has a hunger for franchises in search for the next box-office hit.

George Lucas was not being completely serious when he said on Tuesday night that Walt Disney would be his retirement fund.

It is true that the creator of the Star Wars films is now one of Disney’s largest shareholders after agreeing this week to sell his company, Lucasfilm, to Disney for $4.05bn (£2.5bn) . But besides 40m Disney shares, the legendary director also gets a chunk of cash.

When talks between Lucas and Robert Iger, the chairman and chief executive of Disney, first began 18 months ago, however, the Hollywood producer was under little pressure to sell. Star Wars, which first hit cinemas in 1975, remains a cash cow even though the last film in the series was released seven years ago. Sean McGowan, an analyst at Needham, estimates that about $140m of Star Wars toys will be sold this year alone.

By contrast, this year has seen Disney’s film business come under increasing pressure. In March, the company warned that it would take a $200m hit after the box-office failure of John Carter, in what was the biggest loss on a single film in recent history.

Rich Ross, who ran Disney’s film studio, left within weeks. That failure, say analysts, was an embarrassing reminder to Disney of the costly and difficult challenge of creating films that have the potential to generate profits for years.

“They have a very chequered record in developing new franchises in-house,” says Matthew Harrigan, an analyst at Wunderlich Securities. “No matter how much money you spend on a film, the outcome is uncertain.”

It is not a surprise that the likes of R2-D2, Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and other Star Wars characters attracted Disney’s chequebook. The films have raked in $4.54bn at the box office, leaving them second only to Warner Brothers’ Harry Potter series in the history books. No set of films, though, has made more money from toys. “For 35 years, it has been the most valuable toy franchise,” says McGowan.

Read more:


Read the rest at The Telegraph

One thought on “The Telegraph: “John Carter” Was Proof That Disney Needed Star Wars

  • I don’t begrudge anyone his success. Star Wars is great, entertaining cinema. I am a Star Wars geek. But, despite appreciating Lucas’ work, there is still a backward-ness to the industry narrative concerning all of this, which results in a sense that the cart is being put before the horse. We “should” be looking 100 years back, not 35 years back.

    I’m still waiting for the day when a Barsoom film yet to be made will come out and clarify who was the “Jed(i)” and who was the “Padwar (Padawan)”.

    DJC is a fun, exciting movie, but it missed the legacy boat. As far as sequels at Disney are concerned, the franchise seems to have ended up on a different boat, heading down the Iss (despite the best intentions of many of its hard working and ambitious creators).

    In December of 2001, a film came out which explained medieval fantasy storytelling as we know it. When will that day come for interplanetary science fiction, and its sibling, the ubiquitous superhero?

Leave a Reply