The Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, Alan Horn, took a moment to address the attendees at this morning at Variety’s Dealmaker Breakfast. Horn announced that Disney does not expect to receive the completed script for Star Wars Episode VII until January. Despite the delay, the production of the film is still progressing on schedule and that Disney still expects to release Star Wars Episode VII on 18th December, 2015.
While additional details were kept to a minimum, Horn insinuated that Disney expect the film to cost in the region of $200 million to produce. This estimate would suggest that after additional promotional and contractual costs, costs could amount to as much as $800 million.
Industry and market analysts remain bullish. In 1999, Star Wars Episode I reputedly cost Lucasfilm £115 million to produce, with the film going on to gross $924 million worldwide. Taking inflation into consideration as well as the strength of the Star Wars brand, analysts predict that Star Wars Episode VII will gross a minimum of $1.2 billion worldwide. Disney have already suggested that their Star Wars spin-off film (scheduled for 2016) will have a far smaller budget than any of the main films. Therefore, should the conservative estimate by analysts be met: Disney will be in a position to finance the production, promotion and distribution of the spin-off film for free.
Naturally, this has a knock on effect and subsequent films will be fully financed by the profits of their predecessors. Without taking inflation into consideration and presuming that the economy remains in it’s current state: Star Wars Episode VIIII will result in Disney cashing in a combined profit of $2 billion. (Including three spin-off films)
It’s worth noting that this sum excludes the sale of trademark rights to third parties or any profits gained through merchandising. While many financial analysts will be strictly focused on the release of Star Wars Episode VII, a long term strategy may be more fruitful.