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Star Wars and Marvel Comics Sales Drop Confirms Disney

Matt McGloin Posted: 01/11/2019 - 23:24 COMMENT
Star Wars and Marvel Comics Sales Drop Confirms Disney

Sales for Star Wars and Marvel Comics-related products are down for Disney's fiscal year ending September 29, 2018 compared to the previous year and even more so compared to two years ago.

As part of an SEC filing, Disney released its "Fiscal Year 2018 Annual Financial Report" offering numbers and insights for their Consumer Products & Interactive Media division, which also includes Publishing.

Revenue for the division is down 4% from 2018 to 2017, and down almost 16% from 2018 to 2016. Profits for the two year period are also down nearly 17%. Disney's Consumer Products division is also the only division at Disney to have lost revenue in 2018.

Let's take a look the numbers and what the report offers:

Star Wars Luke

Disney Fiscal Year Ending September 29, 2018

Star Wars

Note: The Disney fiscal year ending September 29, 2018 includes releases for the Star Wars: Battlefront II video game, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Solo.

Worth a mention is that Disney's 2018 fiscal year saw more Star Wars releases than 2017, but the numbers dropped, which we can assume is a huge cause for concern for Disney and is at least part of the reason for the recent changes to the Star Wars film division that sees the movies slowed down.

Regarding Disney's lower 2018 fiscal year (which again ended September 29, 2018) for Consumer Products & Interactive Media and Publishing, the company blames the drop on:

The decrease in licensing, publishing and games revenue was primarily due to lower revenues from sales of licensed merchandise, an unfavorable FX Impact and a decrease in licensee settlements. Lower revenues from sales of licensed merchandise includes decreases from products based on Frozen, Cars and Princess, partially offset by an increase from products based on Mickey and Minnie and Avengers.

Regarding Star Wars in 2018, the report notes:

The decrease in retail sales was due to lower comparable store sales, partially offset by an increase in online retail revenue. Lower comparable retail store sales reflected decreased sales of Star Wars and Moana merchandise in the current year, partially offset by higher sales of Mickey and Minnie merchandise.

Again, the 2018 Disney fiscal year had three "big" releases for Star Wars, while the previous year only had Rogue One, yet the numbers are lower.

Now on to 2017:

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Disney Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2017

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Note: The releases for the 2017 Disney fiscal year includes Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; the releases for the 2016 fiscal year include Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars Battlefront.  

Disney also includes numbers comparing 2017 to 2016 in the report, which also saw a drop, where the blame is placed on:

The decrease in licensing, publishing and games revenue was due to decreases of 8% from our games business, 6% from our merchandise licensing business and 2% from our publishing business. Lower games revenue was due to the discontinuation of Infinity in fiscal year 2016 and decreased licensing revenue from Star Wars: Battlefront. The decrease at our merchandise licensing business was due to lower revenue in fiscal year 2017 from merchandise based on Star Wars and Frozen and an unfavorable FX Impact, partially offset by a benefit from licensee settlements and higher revenue from merchandise based on Cars.

On the publishing side of things in 2017 (which includes Marvel Comics), the report states:

The decrease at our publishing business was primarily due to lower sales of licensed and self-published books based on Star Wars and Frozen and a decrease in sales of comic books based on Star Wars.

The numbers for 2017 go on to state:

The decrease in retail and other revenue was due to a decrease of 9% from our retail business driven by lower comparable store and online sales in our key markets, reflecting higher sales of Frozen and Star Wars merchandise in fiscal year 2016, partially offset by sales of Moana merchandise in fiscal year 2017.

As noted, the report also mentions numerous times drops for Star Wars are to be blamed on the stronger performance of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in previous years, which proves subsequent Star Wars releases did not hold up.

In a nutshell, the report reveals that following the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, everything Disney Star Wars has dropped.

It should be said the Disney Studio Entertainment division (movies) numbers are not negatively impacted by Star Wars because of the Marvel movies and in addition to the simple fact Disney has released more films.

What should also be noted in the report is Disney is placing blame specifically on Star Wars for the numbers dropping for their Consumer Products division, but you will note in 2018, Disney stated losses were partially offset by Marvel (Avengers) that had an increase.

It's pretty obvious fans are shunning Star Wars in favor of other popular Disney brands, especially Marvel, which isn't seeing a drop (and continues to make movies).

Disney Star Wars

Disney Course Correction

I suppose this is just my opinion but as a result of Disney's Consumer Products & Interactive Media and Publishing division not performing favorably (again, it was the only division at Disney to see a revenue loss in 2018), Disney is course correcting as follows (which is a benefit to the Disney company as a whole):

  • Star Wars: Episode IX is the only current Star Wars movie with a release date
  • Disney CEO Bob Iger has confirmed the Star Wars movies are being slowed down
  • Disney is concentrating on their Disney+ streaming Star Wars TV series, The Mandalorian and the Rogue One prequel
  • Jon Favreau is developing The Mandalorian
  • Both the Disney+ Star Wars series have male leads, which is opposed to statements made by LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy about not catering to male Star Wars fans in the movies, and it is also the opposite of her "The Force is Female" propaganda campaign
  • The Rian Johnson Trilogy is currently not being developed as Johnson is working on other projects. The trilogy is at least placed on the backburner (I think it has been canceled).
  • Star Wars spinoffs are also said to have been placed on the backburner, including possible solo movies for Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi
  • The only Star Wars movie recently mentioned by Bob Iger has been that the Game of Thrones writers are working on a project, but it has no release date
  • A new Star Wars: The Clone Wars series is getting released in 2019 on the Disney+ streaming service from Dave Filoni 

Marvel Disney

For Marvel, the course correction I see are as follows (again, which is favorable to Disney as a whole):

Marvel Comics:

  • Axel Alonso was let go (assumed fired) with C.B. Cebulski named as new Marvel Comics EIC
  • Under Cebulski, Marvel Comics has returned the original characters that Alonso replaced
  • Cebulski also seems to be getting rid of Alonso's politically correct usage and replacement of characters (it should be noted that Alonso shouldn't take all the blame, but seems to be the scapegoat, as certainly Ike Perlmutter, Dan Buckley, David Gabriel, Joe Quesada and Tom Brevoort - all of whom are still with Marvel - are to blame, though I think Perlmutter's stranglehold is waning)
  • Brian Bendis has been let go of Marvel Comics
  • Marvel Comics recently fired a Star Wars writer over obscene language and threats placed on social media (it is assumed Disney has a new policy regarding how their creators act on social media, as Disney fired James Gunn over tweets, and Rian Johnson deleted upwards of 20,000 tweets)

Marvel TV

  • Marvel TV's role at Disney may be diminished, which includes Jeph Loeb (chums with the Marvel Comics people) and falls under Perlmutter
  • The Netflix shows have been canceled with Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones and Defenders
  • Agents of SHIELD also looks to be done with Seasons 6 and 7, which are only half seasons (Marvel TV also put out Inhumans, which was a complete disaster)

Marvel Gaming

Marvel Studios

  • The Disney-Fox deal will see the X-Men and Fantastic Four characters back at Marvel
  • Marvel Studios is now creating high budget quality TV shows for the Disney+ streaming service including a Tom Hiddleston Loki series, a Vision and Scarlet Witch series, and a team-up featuring Falcon and Winter Soldier

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