Now, toymakers’ big bets on movie tie-ins look downright bleak. Playthings based on the “Star Wars” saga — the franchise that kicked off the whole phenomenon four decades ago — were down in 2017 despite a new film, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” in December during the all-important holiday-shopping season.
This is not the first dip – after a disappointing start to the new era of Star Wars in 2015, when sales did not live up to expectations, sales dropped in 2016, before dropping further last year. The article highlights a possible cause for the downward trajectory.
More than 20 major films, including “The Last Jedi,” had robust toy-licensing programs last year. A decade ago, it was about half that. Movie attendance in the U.S. has dropped almost 14 percent in that span.
“There are so many screens now; kids aren’t just at the movies,” Johnson said. “A movie doesn’t have the same resonance it used to.”
Although more movie licenses than ever before are competing for shelf space, during a time when children dedicate more free time to watching YouTube videos, there are likely further reasons for the shift. The Star Wars licence has diversified significantly compared to a decade ago, when large companies such as Hasbro and the LEGO Group were complemented by a few smaller licensees. Today, with so many different types of Star Wars merchandise competing for fans’ money, individual companies may not find the license rewarding enough to renew the following year – as sales have declined, so has the number of companies releasing Star Wars products.
It is the first time in years that Star Wars has not been the best selling toy licence across the entire year – even before Disney took over the brand, promising to increase sales of licensed products, Star Wars maintained the number one position.
While “Star Wars” was still the top-selling toy line during the nine-week holiday period, sales fell from 2016 and the brand lost its No. 1 position for the year, according to data from market researcher NPD Group shared with Bloomberg News. Full-year 2016 numbers benefited from the pent-up demand from “Star Wars” fans who started buying merchandise after Walt Disney Co. rebooted the franchise with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in December 2015, as well as a second film, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” released a year later.
With rumours swirling that the LEGO Group still has plenty of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story stock left after lacklustre sales for that movie launch, it seems that the Star Wars licence needs a rethink if it is continue to be successful for both Lucasfilm and the licensees.