The excitement over Star Wars: the Force Awakens, Disney’s hotly anticipated upcoming space opera, has climbed to a fever pitch in the remaining days leading up to its premier.
For that maelstrom of buzz, the media behemoth has an abundance of eager fans, weaned on the preceding two sets of trilogies, as well as a carefully tailored marketing campaign on the part of Disney (DIS), owner of the Lucasfilm studio and its Star Wars franchise since a $4 billion acquisition in 2013.
Disney CEO Bob Iger made known on May earnings call his “extremely deliberate” and “carefully constructed” approach for generating publicity for the film. “We are managing this with great care,” he said of the plan.
With just a week and a half left until the film’s debut, one might wonder just how much Disney has spent on advertising so far. Although the company has not released a budget, sources close to the matter told the Wall Street Journal that the expenses, as the newspaper summarizes, are “slightly lower than what studios typically put into would-be blockbusters.”
Movie studios routinely invest $50 million in marketing upcoming releases in the United States and a little more abroad, the Journal notes, with most of that amount devoted to television.
So far, Disney had doled out about $17 million on TV ads, the Journal reports, citing data from the research firm iSpot.tv that extends through midday Monday, although the firm said it expects that figure to ramp up in the home stretch. For comparison, movie studios pushing other films with high ad budgets, such as Mad Max and Mission Impossible, spent about $30 million, or about twice as much, the Journal said, citing the same database.
Tie-ins with a host of other brands are buoying interest in the series on behalf of Disney as well. Seven official partnering companies, like Verizon (VZ) and Proctor & Gamble (PG), have contributed $38 million in direct advertising, according to the Journal and iSpot.tv. And other companies such as Walmart (WMT) and Electronic Arts (EA) have indirectly added another $51 million by selling products blazoned with the franchise’s name. (That’s to say nothing of the press attention, too. Ahem, Fortune, Time, Entertainment Weekly...)
Even without going all out on the blockbuster elect’s marketing budget, Disney could still land the biggest box office payday ever—depending, of course, upon how the film is received in China. The cultural phenomenon is itself a self-propelling rocket ship.
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