‘Star Wars’ Provides Disney with a ‘Huge Opportunity’


From Variety

Walt Disney Studios is quick to admit it doesn’t have an awareness problem with “Star Wars” when it starts releasing new movies, beginning with next year’s “Episode VII.” But it also knows the future of the franchise at the Mouse House, however, relies on getting the film right for fans and newcomers.

“This title is very well known out there,” and “the single most important thing is to make sure that this movie is great,” said Walt Disney Studios president Alan Bergman, on Wednesday, at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2014 Media, Communications &; Entertainment conference.

Disney hasn’t been shy in discussing the impact “Star Wars” will have on the company’s bottom line since buying George Lucas’ Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012.

But with a new animated series, “Star Wars Rebels” debuting on Disney XD, an expanded merchandise program, and the first live action film to debut in theaters in 10 years next year, the franchise’s presence at Disney is starting to be felt.

Yet a lot is riding on the success of “Episode VII,” out in theaters Dec. 18, 2015, since the J.J. Abrams-directed film will drive much of the interest in “Star Wars” across the rest of Disney’s divisions. In addition for new films, there are plans for more TV shows, licensing deals and theme park attractions.

“If we can get this right, it’s a huge opportunity for the entire company,” said Bergman, who wore Stormtrooper tennis shoes while discussing the studio’s upcoming film slate — a standalone film, to be directed by “Godzilla’s” Gareth Edwards, is already scheduled for Dec. 16, 2016.

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