Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh movie from George Lucas’s Star Wars franchise will hit cinema screens this week.
It is almost 40 years since the original movie was released in 1977. The film is out in the UK on 17 December, then a day later in the US and in China in early January.
With an estimated budget of $200m, The Force Awakens is predicted to be a major box office success. The film has been tipped to be the first to gross over $3bn worldwide at the box office, overtaking current record holder Avatar at $2.8 bn.
With the film expected to be such a huge hit, many companies are hoping to feel the Force.
Walt Disney, owner of Lucasfilm, heads the list. Disney’s media empire spans TV networks, theme parks and resorts, TV and movie studios, consumer products and interactive media. Previous Disney film hits such as Frozen grossed some $1.2bn, while Marvel’s The Avengers grossed just over $1.5bn.
Should The Force Awakens prove to be a huge hit, film distribution, merchandise rights and the likely developments for its theme parks should strongly support earnings. Disney shares are listed on the US stock market, with current analyst consensus opinion pointing towards a buy.
Other companies to potentially benefit include US toy and game manufacturer Hasbro. Back in 2007, Forbes estimated that Star Wars toys accounted for $9bn of the franchise’s sales, billions more than the films themselves.
Hasbro’s third quarter October results saw revenues rising by nine per cent, with the Boys category up 24 per cent. The retail launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens product, was a key driver of category growth. The shares, listed on the US stock market, are currently rated as a strong hold on a consensus analyst basis.
Cineworld, a UK and Eastern European cinema group with around 2000 screens across 216 sites could also benefit.
In their last trading update, management pointed to two forthcoming major releases Star Wars: The Force Awakens and James Bond’s Spectre as likely to be box office hits. Similarly in the US, cinema operator Regal Entertainment could prosper.
Finally, Star Wars game Battlefront is now being sold for use on Microsoft’s Xbox One consoles and is likely to prove a big Christmas seller. Analyst consensus opinion for all three companies currently signifies a buy.