2007 Hot Property

Principal: Howard Roffman, president, Lucas Licensing

Licensees include: Hasbro, Lego and many others

The story: The most venerable of all entertainment licensing properties has earned $13.5 billion worldwide since its 1977 inception.

But even at anniversary events like last month’s Celebration IV fan convention in Los Angeles, it’s obvious the 30-year-old franchise is at a crossroads.

Sure, “Star Wars” raked in product sales worth $1.5 billion in 2006, capturing the No. 1 boy toy position in North America and two top-10 vidgame sales slots. But the earnings were just half of those generated by the franchise in 2005 — the last year it was led by a motion-picture flagship.

“Star Wars” continues to court kids and grown-ups alike with toys and collectibles, bestselling books and vidgames. Can it continue this momentum without a movie in the marketplace? George Lucas’ empire will look to strike back next spring, with a new “The Force Unleashed” game for next-gen consoles that will pick up the saga’s story where 2005′s “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” film left off. Meanwhile, an all-CG TV series, “The Clone Wars,” will debut in the fall of 2008.

POV: “The original generation that was there for the premiere of ‘Star Wars’ has grown up,” Roffman acknowledges. “They’re in a different phase of their life, but they’re still very connected to ‘Star Wars’ and still buying product.”

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