×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Star Wars’ Provides Disney with a ‘Huge Opportunity’

Walt Disney Studios is quick to admit it doesn’t have an awareness problem with “Star Wars” when it starts releasing new movies, beginning with next year’s “Episode VII.” But it also knows the future of the franchise at the Mouse House, however, relies on getting the film right for fans and newcomers.

“This title is very well known out there,” and “the single most important thing is to make sure that this movie is great,” said Walt Disney Studios president Alan Bergman, on Wednesday, at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2014 Media, Communications & Entertainment conference.

Disney hasn’t been shy in discussing the impact “Star Wars” will have on the company’s bottomline since buying George Lucas’ Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012.

But with a new animated series, “Star Wars Rebels” debuting on Disney XD, an expanded merchandise program, and the first live action film to debut in theaters in 10 years next year, the franchise’s presence at Disney is starting to be felt.

SEE ALSO: Significant ‘Star Wars’ Presence Planned for Disney Theme Parks

Yet a lot is riding on the success of “Episode VII,” out in theaters Dec. 18, 2015, since the J.J. Abrams-directed film will drive much of the interest in “Star Wars” across the rest of Disney’s divisions. In addition for new films, there are plans for more TV shows, licensing deals and theme park attractions.

“If we can get this right, it’s a huge opportunity for the entire company,” said Bergman, who wore Stormtrooper tennis shoes while discussing the studio’s upcoming film slate — a standalone film, to be directed by “Godzilla’s” Gareth Edwards, is already scheduled for Dec. 16, 2016.

“‘Star Wars’ has been a unique property, more than any other property,” Bergman said.

But “Star Wars” isn’t the only major tentpole Disney has coming up.

Next year is expected to become a banner year for the studio, with two new toons from Pixar, and Marvel releasing two films, a sequel to “The Avengers” and potential franchise starter with “Ant-Man” as standouts.

SEE ALSO: How Marvel’s Success Will Help ‘Star Wars’

It scored this year with “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which has become the summer and year’s top-grossing film in the U.S. with nearly $307 million.

“It’s spectacular to have the biggest movie of the year be (based on) unknown characters is fantastic,” Bergman said. “It shows the power of the characters and the creative team (at Marvel). There will be a lot of life in the franchise,” with Disney already having greenlit a sequel for July 2017.

Marvel’s “Captain America” sequel follows in second place, with “Maleficent” coming in at No. 5. That’s after “Frozen” became the top-grossing animated film ever last year, which continues to mint money from home entertainment and merchandise sales for Disney.

“You can see when we get it right what it means to the company and how it sets our studio apart,” Bergman said. “Our branded tentpole strategy is working pretty well,” and with movies like “The Avengers,” they can lift merchandise sales and interest for each individual property and characters featured in the film.

Despite a strong slate for 2015 and 2016, Bergman admitted that Disney “isn’t immune to flops,” noting “The Lone Ranger” and “John Carter.”

“It’s hard to make a movie,” he said, and on paper, “The Lone Ranger” had “a big star, big director and big producer. Sometimes it doesn’t come together. Fortunately, we haven’t had many of them.”

The studio expects to remain focused on its branded tentpole strategy in order to reduce the risk of any future losses.

“We can reduce the risk to a certain degree” that way, Bergman said. When greenlighting movies, the studio “looks at the longterm nature of these franchises and the value we’re creating not only at the studio but the company. We feel very good about the slate that we have.”

More Biz

  • WGA Agency Packaging Fight Placeholder Writer

    Writers Guild Agrees to Resume Meetings With Talent Agencies

    The Writers Guild of America has agreed to resume negotiations with Hollywood’s talent agents, six weeks after talks between the two sides cratered. WGA West President David A. Goodman announced Wednesday night that the WGA had approved a proposal by UTA co-president Jay Sures to get back to the bargaining table. Sures had made the [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Agencies Offer to Restart Talks With WGA to End Packaging Fee Standoff

    Hollywood’s largest talent agencies have offered to restart negotiations with the WGA to end the standoff over the guild’s effort to impose new rules on talent agents. In a letter to WGA West president David Goodman sent Wednesday, UTA co-president Jay Sures extended an olive branch and suggested resuming talks next week. UTA later sent [...]

  • Woodstock 50 Files Appeal Seeking Return

    Woodstock 50 Files Appeal Seeking Return of $18 Million From Former Financial Partner

    In the latest round of the ongoing legal battle between the organizers of Woodstock 50 and their erstwhile partners Dentsu Aegis, attorney Marc Kasowitz announced that the festival has filed an appeal for Dentsu to return some $18.5 million the financial giant withdrew from the organizers’ bank account. That money has been a point of [...]

  • Spider-Man Homecoming

    Film and TV Productions Are Using Drones for Scouting Locations, Lighting and More

    Since a ruling by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2014 that cleared the use of drones in film and TV production, the acquisition of footage by these unmanned flying machines has become de rigueur for aerial shooting in cases when cranes or aircraft are impractical or unsafe.  As such, drones have been greeted enthusiastically not [...]

  • White House Communications Director Hope Hicks,

    House Judiciary Committee Issues Subpoena for Fox Spokeswoman Hope Hicks

    The House Judiciary Committee has issued a subpoena for Hope Hicks, the Fox Corporation communications chief who previously worked as the communications director in President Donald Trump’s White House. The call for Hicks to appear before the committee was issued Tuesday. Hicks could not be reached for immediate comment on the matter. Hicks was in [...]

  • Stephanie Dalton City National Bank

    Why City National Handles Financing for Half the Shows on Broadway

    Seen a Broadway show lately? If the answer is yes, then there’s a pretty good chance that Stephanie Dalton and her team at City National Bank have played a role in the financial life of the production. That can mean anything from managing the cash that a show takes in at the box office to [...]

  • Broadway Theater Placeholder

    The Great Green Way: Inside Broadway's Economic Boom

    Here’s an old Broadway story, probably apocryphal, but with the ring of truth: A worried producer checks in on his ticket sales to see how his show is doing. “We had a terrible night, boss,” the treasurer tells him. “We did one penny.” The producer sulks through Shubert Alley and runs into a rival. “How’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content