The Romance of Star Wars: Who wins the popularity contest?

Nic Crowther
Thu 29 Oct

What is the greatest Star Wars romance? Han and Leia? R2-D2 and C-3PO? Jabba and Salacious Crumb?

As it turns out, the greatest romance in the Star Wars universe is between fans and the film franchise itself Why? Because this is a global multi-billion-dollar business which has -  at best - produced 2.5 films that are in some way watchable.

Editor’s note: while this is about marketing and economics, non-Star Wars fans might need a quick lesson on the difference between the original Star Wars films and Episode I, II, and III. Any nearby male between the age of 20 and 50 is a pretty safe bet.

 

 

A quick search of the IMDb Top 250 sees all three ‘originals’ make the cut. Not surprising when the voting demographic of the poll is taken into consideration. The ranking and respective ratings (out of ten) of all six released Star Wars films are as follows:

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (No. 12 – 8.7)
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (No. 19 – 8.7)
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (No. 70 – 8.4)

On the all-time Box Office list – when adjusted for inflation - all three originals hold lofty positions (2, 12 and 15 in order of release).  Interestingly, Episode I (1999) comes in at Number 15. This film was an abjectly horrible special-effects-driven trainwreck, but clearly demonstrates the hunger of Gen-Xers to relive their childhood and drag partners and kids along with them for the decent into the cinematic abyss.

Episode II (2002) lands at No. 99 and, for reasons difficult to fathom (apart from being comparatively decent), 2005’s Episode III came in at 61.

 

 

Again adjusted for inflation, the box office totals of these six movies launched across US$4.5 billion dollars. That number doesn’t even consider revenue from toys, books, video games and other licensing arrangements have added another US$21 billion to the pile.

Little wonder then that Disney forked out more than US$4 billion to take ownership of the brand. Straight after that, another three sequels and a whole lot of spin-offs were planned as a part of a decade-long rollout that puts The Avengers to shame.

So, the countdown continues and, with acclaimed sci-fi/action director JJ Abrams (Lost, Star Trek, Mission: Impossible III) on board, Disney is pretty confident that Episode VII – The Force Awakens will be box office gold, and the studio will release the blockbuster early in December in an attempt to completely dominate cinemaplexes over the Christmas period.

Meanwhile, Forbes Magazine is getting pretty excited as it forecasts the three big money-makers from the franchise’s reboot. Disney is the obvious one, however Hasbro (which will license Star Wars toys out to 2020) and Electronic Arts – creators of the highly anticipated Star Wars: Battlefield game -  are set for serious pay-dirt.

 


Image: Forbes.com

 

Hasbro, which already sells a lot of Star Wars toys, estimates an extra half a billion dollars’ revenue over the next year as a result of the film’s release. For Electronic Arts, the game (released on 18 November) is expected to bring in US$ 1 billion over the next five months.

Clearly, there's likely to be some sort of Star Wars related item under a lot of Christmas trees this year. Be it Lego, a Hasbro toy or tickets to the movie, it seems the entire world is in love with Disney’s latest big purchase.