Can Abrams' 'Star Wars' be a billion-dollar blaster?
The filmmaker takes on the challenge of repeating the franchise's previous financial successes with the coming 7th episode.
The filmmaker announced over the weekend that production of the seventh episode of the space epic would begin shooting in early 2014, with a scheduled release date the following year. Details of the plot aren't known, though it's rumored that the film will feature members of the original cast, including Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill.
Shooting won't be cheap. Box Office Mojo says the most recent "Star Wars" installments, "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" (1999) and "Episode III -- "The Revenge of the Sith" (2005), both cost more than $100 million to make.
But the returns have been fantastic. Box Office Mojo reports that in the U.S. alone, "Phantom Menace" grossed more than $431 million, while "Sith" brought in $380 million. Worldwide, they did nearly $1 billion and $850 million, respectively. And those numbers aren't adjusted for inflation. Nor do they include all the tie-ins, rental income and merchandising that easily made these films worth more than a billion dollars.
It's pretty much a given that the newest episode in the franchise will be at least as expensive to make, if not more so. At a minimum it will also have to match the grosses of the earlier films to please Wall Street.
That'll be a tough job. For one thing, Ford has been one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood for years. He has also expressed misgivings about again taking on the role of Han Solo. Plus, bringing back the old cast might not be enough to attract today's moviegoers, many of whom are too young to remember the earlier movies. The film will also need contemporary stars, who won't come cheap either.
To say the pressure is on Abrams to deliver is an understatement. Disney investors have high expectations for the film, given the media giant's $4.05 billion acquisition of LucasFilm from George Lucas last year.
Abrams has delivered big before, but even with the Force, there's no guarantee he'll do it again.
Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.
Jonathan Berr, have you even seen a Star Wars film? You write this article as if you're reporting on something happening in a foreign country while you're in your flip-flops on Palm Beach.
Don't get me wrong he'll have maybe 1 (Jackson and Guinness) but that's about it. Portman wasn't a super star yet and MacGregor has always been a solid character actor.
Also, he always rounded out the cast with brilliant stage actors like Alec Guinness and Christopher Lee.
Funny that Ford has misgivings about playing Han Solo again. He should have had huge misgivings about playing any role in the silly/stupid "Cowboys and Aliens". You too Daniel Craig!
Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit came out before most of us were alive and they've done pretty darn good financially... if you take a good story, good director, and good acting you can make the new Star Wars very successful.
Episode 1 was horrible and it did great, I doubt they can make Episode 7 worse.
If JJ Abrams could get Han Solo to shoot Jar Jar Binks in the Cantina Scene I think Star Wars would make their money back. This would also settle the argument if Han shot first because it would be justifiable homicide. missa thinkin weesa re ganna die? Oooh, Mooey Mooey. My give up.
"Can JJ Abrams' 'Star Wars' be a billion-dollar blaster?"
In a word: No. JJ Abrams destroys everything he touches.
There is another issue at stake, one that gets severely neglected---the high price of movie tickets!
Families can no longer afford to go the movies together as such turns into a $40-$50 without popcorn!
Beside hasn't Star Wars (which I love) run its course, the movies are still watched but a whole new one might not do as well, especially since Disney has grown pretty famous for not so great sequels.
OZ is an example---came out only a few months ago and is already available on DVD over that of the big screen.
Maybe Abrams should have just left Star Wars alone rather than seek the big bucks on sequels that may be great but overly expensive!
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