Talk about The Force: Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, which opens December 18, could trail just Avatar and Titanic — with $1.95 billion in global box office sales — Morgan Stanley’s Benjamin Swinburne says today in a detailed a report about the film’s potential impact on Disney.
The analyst raised his box office forecast nearly 22%, mostly due to his growing optimism about overseas sales. After throwing in all revenues and costs, he expects SW to be “wildly profitable” for Disney with $1.03 billion headed to the bottom line from $1.67 billion in the company’s share of sales.
Swinburne sees domestic ticket buyers spending $650 million on the film, with overseas sales at $1.3 billion. The ratio — with non-domestic sales doubling domestic — is higher than the last three SW films. International sales were about 1.2 times domestic for the releases in 1999, 2002, and 2005. But “the international market has grown significantly since, as evidenced by the recent strength of Furious 7” which had a ratio of 3.3-to-1.
Disney’s also poised to take a larger than average slice of the theatrical sales pie. The studio typically splits the proceeds in half with domestic theaters. But for SW “we expect Disney retains 55-60% of domestic box office receipts and 40-45% of the international take,” Swinburne says.
His view of global merchandise sales also has improved. The forecast now assumes that consumers will spend $3 billion a year on licensed toys, clothing, and other assorted SW-related stuff, with about $215 million going back to Disney.
In other realms, Disney might see $350 million in home video revenues, $100 million from video games, and $75 million from global pay TV.
On the cost side he figures the movie production will run $423 million — including $200 million for the film, $98 million from profit participations, and $125 million to make and distribute home videos. Print and ad costs subtract $175 million for the movie, and $40 million for the home video.
Swinburne says that his new projections put him pretty much in line with investor assumptions. Disney shares are regularly setting new all time highs; they’re up 0.7% to $114.20 in mid-day trading. The price is up 21.3% so far in 2015, and 38% over the last 12 months.