For as long as people have been loving Star Wars movies, people have also been loving Star Wars merchandise. It didn't really matter that there was a massive gap between Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens, because there was always something Star Wars related to buy. That being said, Episode 7 did usher in a whole lot of new Star Wars merch for us to enjoy. And as it turns out, we enjoyed it an awful lot, as it helped boost licensed merchandise sales worldwide in 2015, helping to improve the global economy.
In a recent report, Deadline notes that the swell of merchandise Disney released in relation to a galaxy far far away last year was responsible for a huge bump in overall, global merchandise sales. Worldwide retail sales of licensed merchandise increased by 4.2 percent last year, and that was largely thanks to Star Wars. The information was released by the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association (LIMA) at the industry's annual Licensing Expo confab in Las Vegas.
It was reported earlier in the year that Disney raked it in with The Force Awakens related merchandise, pulling in $700 million in sales. According to the research firm NPD Group, that "brought in more sales and contributed more growth than Jurassic World, Minions, and Avengers combined." That is an incredibly impressive feat, as any fan of those other properties know, there was plenty of merchandise from Avengers, Minions and Jurassic World to go around. Marty Brochstein, an SVP for LIMA wasn't shy about how big of a deal he thought Disney's accomplishment was.
"Star Wars: The Force Awakens is undoubtedly the story of the year. It became something that affected everybody else's business. This is a business of share of mind, and it was tough to get in front of the consumer with other things because Star Wars was so strong."
Not only did Star Wars help raise overall licensed merchandise on a global scale by nearly 5 percent, but thanks to The Force Awakens, movie-related merchandise sales rose by nearly 10 percent in 2015. It is astonishing that anything that isn't directly related to human survival can see that kind of demand on a global basis, but that is why Disney purchased Lucasfilm. With Rogue One: A Star Wars Story coming out Disney should see really impressive sales again this year, but Brochstein thinks that expectations should be managed.
"The natural order of things is that the second year won't be as big as the first. You have a very different story this year with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It's for an older audience than The Force Awakens. And by nature those don't draw as much licensing business.....It would be the natural way if things weren't quite at the level they were in 2015."
Back in 2012, Disney paid what seemed like a staggering $4 billion for all of Lucasfilm, which included everything related to Star Wars and was the bulk of the reason for the purchase. That number will ultimately seem like pocket change, given that The Force Awakens pulled in more than $2 billion at the box office and as has been shown, they made a truck load of money on merchandise, and that isn't likely to slow down all that much. George Lucas famously retained the rights to all Star Wars merchandise back when he was making A New Hope, and it is easy to see now why Fox was kicking themselves for all of those years, and why Star Wars was worth every penny of $4 billion for Disney.