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The Box office profits generated by Disney’s Star Wars movies have fallen $2.8 billion short of covering the media giant’s purchase of Lucasfilm. Disney acquired Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012 and produced a new trilogy of Star Wars movies, which kicked off in 2015 with The Force Awakens. This film grossed $2.1 billion, leading to the creation of two spinoff movies and two sequels. However, as the series progressed, there was a decline due to over-reliance on CGI effects and a lack of the original movies’ beloved characters.

In 2019, The Rise of Skywalker, the third movie in the new trilogy, earned around half of The Force Awakens’ box office earnings. However, Disney saw a resurgence in the Star Wars universe with the success of The Mandalorian, a streaming series that debuted in December 2019. The show featured a gruff bounty hunter and a cute alien called Grogu, which captured the hearts of fans worldwide. The Mandalorian became a massive hit during the global lockdown, leading to a surge in subscriptions to Disney+.

The Mandalorian was praised by both audiences and critics, garnering high ratings on review aggregator sites. It was nominated for numerous Emmy Awards and spawned its own spinoff series, The Book of Boba Fett. The success of The Mandalorian led to the development of more Star Wars shows and movies, showcasing Disney’s ability to capitalize on the franchise. However, Disney’s presentation to stockholders, touting the ROI on the Star Wars movies, failed to take into account the actual costs and profits of the films.

Disney managed to recoup some of the costs of the Star Wars movies by shooting them in the UK and benefiting from the government’s tax incentives. The Force Awakens, for example, received a cash reimbursement of $92.2 million from the UK government. However, the costs of making the Star Wars movies, especially the big-budget productions like The Rise of Skywalker and Solo, were significant. Solo, in particular, was a loss-making venture for Disney due to extensive reshoots and poor box office performance.

Overall, Disney’s Star Wars movies have generated a net profit of $1.2 billion so far, falling short of the $4 billion purchase price of Lucasfilm. The calculation doesn’t include the profits from merchandise, DVDs, and Blu-rays, nor does it factor in the marketing costs and revenues from streaming shows and theme park attractions. With multiple Star Wars movies in development, Disney still has an opportunity to recoup its investment, but the films are not yet a guaranteed success for investors.

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