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This Is How Much Disney Has Made Off of the Star Wars and Marvel Franchises

The Walt Disney Company is giving its investors a sense of the massive profits it has made off of the Star Wars and Marvel universes since that studio and Lucasfilm became part of Disney — and it’s more than one can shake a lightsaber at.

In a presentation posted to the shareholder campaign website Vote Disney, the House of Mouse included highlights of its success with franchises as the company is waging a proxy fight with activist investor Nelson Peltz.

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Corporate intrigue aside, the presentation reveals some compelling numbers on the high-profile acquisitions Disney has made over the past 15 years. In a section titled “Enduring franchises highlight our powerful IP and unique monetization capabilities,” Disney indicates that it has seen a 2.9 times and 3.3 times return on investment after purchasing Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios in 2012 and 2009, respectively.

In 2012, Disney paid $4 billion for Lucasfilm, giving Disney ownership of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises.

In a timeline highlighting landmark Star Wars releases and projects since the acquisition, the investors presentation cites the opening of the Star Tours Adventures Continue at its theme parks, the release of three Star Wars movies from 2015-2019, Disney+’s franchise series The Mandalorian, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor and Ahsoka from 2019-2023 and three untitled films anticipated for release from 2026 to 2029.

In the filing, Disney suggests that Lucasfilm has generated nearly $12 billion in value to the company.

For Marvel, which it bought in 2009 for $4 billion, Disney cites all four Avengers movies and the Avengers Campus Marvel Cinematic Universe–themed areas that opened at Disney’s California Adventure and Walt Disney Studios Park in Disneyland Paris. The four blockbuster movies occupy four of the top 15 slots on the list of top lifetime box office grosses.

Marvel has generated some $13.2 billion in value to Disney, per the presentation.

The 2.9X and 3.3X ROI figures are pulled from company data and reflect the ratio between revenue and investment on titles released following the company’s acquisition of the Marvel and Star Wars intellectual property, the company notes. Revenue reflects aggregate 10-year revenue streams, both generated and expected, directly associated with the releases (including theatrical, home entertainment, pay and free television and consumer products).

Disney also notes this does not include derivative revenue streams, such as park attractions, nor does it include originals associated with those franchises or pre-established franchise consumer products revenue. By investment, the figure reflects film production costs, print and advertising associated with theatrical releases. It does not include additional distribution costs or overhead.

While the company’s forays into these franchises have received mixed responses from their devoted fans, the financial success they’ve brought likely means there is much more to come. Two more seasons of Disney’s live-action Star Wars series, The Acolyte and Andor, will debut this year and in 2025 while two Untitled Star Wars movies are coming, with one focusing on Daisy Ridley’s Rey character and another, titled The Mandalorian & Grogu, taking the Mandalorian series to the big screen.

That film’s star, Pedro Pascal will leap over to Marvel with a reboot of The Fantastic Four, one of the studio’s upcoming releases as it fights off superhero fatigue. The next outing of its all-star gaggle of crime fighters will come in 2026 with The Avengers: The Kang Dynasty in 2026 — one of at least 20 more projects it has coming by the end of 2027.

The presentation sits alongside a video released this week where Disney goes for the jugular in its attacks on Peltz as he and former Disney CFO Jay Rasulo seek to revamp the company by gaining seats on its board. Styled like a political attack ad, the video asserts that if the two succeed, Disney “could suffer the same fate as other great companies that Peltz has previously infiltrated, such as GE and Dupont.

“Nelson Peltz has a long history of attacking companies to the ultimate detriment of shareholder value,” the narrator of the three-minute video states. As is reflected in the presentation, the video emphasized the fact that Peltz has no experience running a global media company.

In a recent letter to Disney shareholders, Peltz’s Trian Fund Management says that the company can’t afford another “boom or bust sequel” to three years of negative performance in the stock market. Noting that company stock is up in 2024’s first quarter, the hedge fund’s letter casts doubt on Disney’s ability to deliver or sustain momentum from the announcements made on its strategic plan while patting Peltz’s back for the war he’s waging on Disney.

“Without the pressure of our proxy contest pushing Disney to perform,” the letter reads, “it is unclear if the ‘announcements’ would have been made.”

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