Monday, February 11, 2019

How Kathleen Kennedy and Politics Cost Disney $3.7 Billion


There's a problem when it comes to measuring the box office success (or failure) of movies in America.  There is no standard measuring stick.  The best pundits, editors, and the media have come up with is inflation adjusted numbers, but this doesn't account for the fact the economy and number of people have grown.  For example Star Wars Episode IV "only" brought in $786 million in 1977, but the total GDP was only $2 trillion back then (compared to $20 trillion now) and there were only 220 million Americans, a full 100 million less than today.  So I tapped into my SAEG and came up with a new measure that I think beats all the other conventional measures being used - Box Office Sales as a Percent of GDP.  This accounts for inflation.  It accounts for economic growth.  It accounts for population growth.  And I think it should be used hence forth anytime people are interested in comparing box office numbers, especially when the movies are decades apart.

However, my motivation for coming up with this figure was not purely noble.  I had an ulterior motive.  I wanted to calculate just how much Kathleen Kennedy (and her commensurate politics) cost Disney and its shareholders in terms of profits/market value.  I wanted to see what percent of the Star Wars franchise's value was destroyed by politics.  Because as I've stated before, I'm getting mighty sick and tired of politics being mixed in with my fun.  Thus my hope is to attach a price tag to "being woke" and ruining everybody's movie-going fun with SJW politics so that the morons in Hollywood might get a clue before they go out of business.

First I calculated Box Office sales as a Percent of GDP (BOSPG) for each of the Star Wars movies.
This is nothing shocking as the original Star Wars was truly ground breaking, bringing in just shy of 4/100ths a percent of GDP.  This dropped significantly to .019% and .016% GDP for Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, respectively, but still impressive.  The prequels' lackluster performance also showed as they brought in .011%, .007%, and .006%.  And the sequels repeated the same, capitalizing on a new generation's hope, posting .011%, .006% and .007%.

Except there was just one tinsy winsy problem.

Episode VIII - The Last Jedi was such a betrayal to Star Wars fans that people essentially boycotted the next movie, Solo.  Solo's performance was so bad, it only got an abominable .0019% GDP, a mere 1/20th what Episode VI pulled in.

Or in plain English - Kathleen Kennedy wiped out 95% of the Star Wars franchise value.

Now we have to be fair.  The original trilogy was so revolutionary and from a different time that it really isn't fair to compare Kathleen Kennedy's modern day remakes to George Lucas' original movie productions (remember when Hollywood did those?  Originals?  Never mind, it's a Gen X thing, you youngin's wouldn't understand).  Also, it's not like the Star Wars franchise didn't go down in value with the release of the prequels.  So in intellectual honesty, I opted to compare Kennedy's performance to the prequels, as the franchise had already gone down in value as a consequence of those, and any further deterioration could logically be attributed to Kennedy and her politics.

I won't bore you with the mathematical details (posted below), but the short version is this.  Using the prequels as a baseline, you could expect your average Star Wars movie to earn about .0077% GDP.  Right now with Solo, Kennedy/politics sits at .0019%, a full 75% drop/destruction in the value of the Star Wars franchise.  If you prorate this out, assuming one new Star Wars movie every 4 years and some other mathematical assumptions, the estimated total cost to the Disney shareholders and Disney's profits is around $3.7 billion.  And remember.  That's basing it off the prequels.  It would almost be $7 billion if we included the original trilogy into the baseline.

I need that to sink into the shareholders and corporate executives at Disney, Sony, Century Fox and any other movie makers in Hollywood.

Your politics has CONSERVATIVELY wiped out 75% of the value of the world's most profitable movie franchise and cost you an estimated direct financial cost of $3.7 billion.  You had the golden goose and because you lacked creativity, originality, and cannot simply shuck your SJW, virtue signaling politics, you killed it.  And it's very doubtful if it's ever coming back.


Now, of course the future of Star Wars hinges on many things.

Will you continue to force feed politics into people's fun?
Will Kathleen Kennedy be replaced by a non-ideologue who loves Star Wars and returns it to its original greatness?
Is it so bad that the franchise is essentially dead?

And these questions will be answered in another decade or so.

But if we can stop now, take inventory of the true financial costs and consequences of jamming politics and personal agendas into cherished franchises, and simply follow the common sense rule of NOT putting politics into people's fun, Hollywood is guaranteed to be multiple billions of dollars richer in the future than the path it is currently on now.  Oh, and not that Hollywood cares, the movie going public will be happier and more satisfied as well.
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37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Episode VI should have been the last one. Forever. Always go out on a high note.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with you, but the other big factor is the advent of broadband/bit torrent/the pirate bay. Movies are vitually free thesedays and it's hard to compete with free.

bev davis said...

Grow up. She got her contract renewed.

Good Greg said...

Doing the NFL would be similarly as startling, but over a much shorter time period

Mark Matis said...

You assume that the shareholders CARE about money. When in reality, their actions show they only care about their politics. That $3.7 billion is pocket money for the votes they bought with it. And they don't give a damn that the Deplorables aren't interested. They want the votes in the hives, where their "vote counters" can manufacture whatever they need to "win" any election that they actually care about. Or did you not learn from the 2018 election, where there was rampant fraud in MANY places around the country, yet only one traitor lost her job - Brenda Snipes - and there isn't even a snowball's chance in hell that she'll be prosecuted for her crimes???

The Phantom said...

When I watch old TV shows like Mannix, Rockford Files, Murder She Wrote, they seem very odd. When I think about that "oddness" it all comes down to politics. There are no SJW shout-outs or niggling little shots at the President. No global warming. Its just a TV drama.

Something on Drudge today, the headline said that 33 television shows slammed Trump in January. One month, 33 shows. That's probably all of them.

But I wouldn't know. Because I cut the cord in 2009 and haven't missed it for one minute since then. Broadcast TV died ten years ago, as far as I'm concerned. Think about what that means for advertisers.

Finally saw Soylo on Netflix. I'm very glad I didn't see it at the theater, it was excruciating. So cringey! My finger hovered over the fast-forward button so I could skip all the Hollywood boilerplate. It isn't even the ever-present politics, the dialogue, character design and the plot SUCKED. The gyrations they went through with the Kessel Run thing, my eyes were rolling back in my head. George Lucas didn't know what a parsec was in the 1970s, live with it.

Bottom line, there have been better Punch and Judy shows than this turkey. It was like a really long episode of Happy Days, post shark-jump. With guns.

But now that I'm warmed up, Last Jedi was worse. Normally I don't hear people groaning in discomfort in the theater or yelling at the screen, because I live in a civilized part of Canada. People cheer or sit quietly. But not this time. As the thing went on, people were squirming. Because Last Jedi is an existential assault on the first three movies. They destroyed the character of Luke Skywalker, burned it down just like they burned down the Jedi temple tree with the holy books in it. Mark Hamill was pissed, and entirely justified in everything he said.

They turned Yoda into a pussy who gave up and ran away in Revenge of the Sith, and they did the same to Luke Skywalker in Last Jedi.

Translation from Art Speak: "America is not allowed to have heroes, if one arises he will be struck down. America sucks, and fuck you. Now shut up and give me your money you stupid prole."

Gee, they're not doing well? How surprising.

But you know what is fun? Anime. I'm watching this ridiculous show called Girlie Airforce lately. It is everything we have come to expect in a "harem anime." Complete schlock, Japanese style.

It doesn't matter. That show is fun to watch. Nice colours, nice art, nice characters, NICE STORY LINE. The hero helps the artificial intelligence robot heroine get her shit together and fight off the aliens who are attacking Japan. The Japanese Navy and Airforce are presented as Good Guys trying hard to protect the country from Evil, capital E. When was the last time we saw America (or Europe, Canada, Australia, Britain) shown in that light? 1945, that's when.

Yes, a crappy kid's TV show from Japan is more enjoyable and engaging than the latest $200+++ megabuck project out of Disney. When I watch the silly cartoon show, I do not have to fast forward through the crappy parts and I don't find myself yelling at the TV.1

The people running Hollywood are moral perverts. Their minds are warped and filled with hate. We are rapidly approaching a time when even the entertainment industry will be off-shored to Asia, and another American city will be filled with empty warehouses and shut-down small businesses. This time LA.

Anonymous said...

Agree in general, but Star Wars is one great movie away from "being back".
There are too many fans of the original movies out there, too much fan support, too many off club/activities for Star Wars to die yet.

Also, I've heard the JJ Abrams is doing the next movie. That bodes well.

Still, if the script is written by a 'woke' SJW, the corpse will totter on for another 4 years, dying by inches.

Anonymous said...

When the first star wars movie came out I went with a bunch of friends to see it at a local theatre for the afternoon showing on the 2nd day of the release. The line up was long, really long but we stayed. It was a beautiful afternoon, sunny but not that hot. The local safeway was doing a booming business on snacks and pop etc. We stood there for 6 hours waiting to get in. This place had 4 theatres in it, the next day they tossed the other 3 movies playing and put them all to star wars, we went back how many times to see it. We were fans, big time fans of it. Bought the toys Vhs and dvd series for it.

Went with the kids to see the Prequels, got them into the the the middle trilogy. Then put off watching the the the last series till recently. Wow what magic there was to the Franchise is gone, vaporized. I could not finish watching them. I was dismayed, shocked appalled by the way it had fallen. And deeply saddened as well. some people will make excuses for it but I can't believe they movie execs let it happen.

Anonymous said...

The second woman from the left in the photo has terrific knockers.
Also - Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor Ragnarok, Ant Man & The Wasp didn't take themselves too seriously and are genuine fun and we re-watch them. The overly serious movies get no play. Nor do the overly serious SF series like the new, uberleftist Star Trek.

Anonymous said...

Or Episode III, going out on the high ground.

But ya, Get Woke Go Broke strikes again. What it also shows is that the vast majority of people don't like the SJW-ization of everything, but somehow a small minority of loudmouths have managed to ruin lots of things for the majority.

penelope said...

Like the old vaudeville maxim. Always leave them wanting more

Sam L. said...

What Anon wrote!

Mr. Satyre said...

Episode VI was a "high note"? Surely you jest.

charpaddy said...

Rather depressing when they are all patting themselves on the back for their great forward thinking.

Idiots. Absolute idiots. Willing to put their company in the toilet for what? Virtue signaling?

Waiting to see what happens to Gillette now that they have poked most of their buyers in the eye.

owlish said...

Don't forget, a lot of the profits come from merch. And that's dropped off too, apparently.

Rick said...

I would also point out that most successful scifi tends to be more libertarian by its very nature. The recent Star Wars franchise (as well as the HUGO's in print) have violated that unwritten rule and thus, we get this issue with Star Wars and the Sad Puppies campaign in the print world. True scifi fandom will always revert to libertarianism over SJW nonsense.

HCam57 said...

Can you do the same kind of analysis for Marvel Comics, another company purchased by Disney, put in the hands of third/fourth wave feminist SJWs, and destroyed?

grimble grumble said...

I am one of those people that skipped Solo because of The Last Jedi. I am not a massive star wars fan. I saw Ep. 1 (now, 4) in the theatre long ago. I thought the Ewoks in Revenge of the Jedi were a huge mistake and ruined a good movie. I thought the prequels were alright (would have been better without certain characters and with a better actor playing Anakin). If another SWs movie is made, it better be a good story otherwise I will pass.

Travis McGee said...

This is an interesting analysis, but it leaves some unanswered questions. First, are your box office numbers purely domestic or global? In more recent years, major releases depend on foreign box office receipts to make a profit.

Also, are you making a true, apples-to-apples comparison? The revenue model for modern releases assumes a longer revenue tail, in the form of video rentals, sales, and royalties. On the other hand, New Hope was in some theaters for almost a year, meaning that some of its receipts would have stretched into 1978. Do your box office figures include the full release life of each of the films?

Anonymous said...

I'd say compare to Doctor Who but the BBC doesn't care about profit/viewership so there is no true comparison. Maybe the latest Star Trek?

ravenshrike said...

It should be noted thst Disney's actions with the IP regarding gaming have also caused the value to plummet. They gave all the IP rights to EA, who has made 2 mediocre FPS games at best and canceled 3 others in development.

Fishbreath said...

I'm not sure GDP is a great measure, given that GDP has increased faster than movie box office take, as far as I can tell (see https://www.boxofficemojo.com/yearly/ for annual total box office take). In 1980, movies were about $2.7bn out of a $2.8tn GDP. In 2018, they were about $12bn out of a $19tn GDP. Your point still stands if you adjust for the size of the movie industry relative to the economy, though.

Anonymous said...

I know it's irrational, but I feel PERSONALLY BETRAYED that they fucked this story up so much, and I won't watch another one of them.

bio kido said...

Can someone tell me how the last few star wars movies have been political?

vok3 said...

I could save Star Wars.

I would do it like so
1) deep-six the prequels, RotJ, and everything Disney's done; write it all off as a loss
2) hire entirely new set of actors on a 9-movie contract
3) re-film New Hope and Empire beat for beat, line for line, scene for scene as before (original, not remastered), with the new actors
4) write and film movies 1-3 and 6-9 with the new actors based on Lucas's original 9-movie treatment (yes, RotJ goes away, no cute fuzzy Ewoks punching Imperial walkers), which was derived from Joseph Campbell's study of myth in human society, the universality of which is WHY Star Wars was so successful. Because it speaks to the fundamental human experience of life.

Lucas lost his way with RotJ when he abandoned his original treatment in favor of immediate sentimentality. Everything since has been downhill.

Of course, I won't be asked to save Star Wars. Even if by some spectacular chance the topic came up in conversation with somebody who could put a word in someone's ear, they'd blanch at the thought of admitting all those sunk costs are ... sunk.

So instead I'll just have to create my own IP and beat them the hard way.

SCSIwuzzy said...

David Filoni, who helms the 30 minute animated shows (Clone Wars, Rebels, Resistance) should be given the reigns to the whole franchise. He's a liberal, but he gets that the characters must feel real first, and the messaging needs to be subtle.

Tim Wohlford said...

I jumped ship the moment I saw Jar Jar Binks. Haven't looked back since. Jar Jar told me that whatever links that the franchise had to the Joseph Campbell / epic hero mythology was long gone and would never return.

Bill Peschel said...

It might help your argument to do the Indiana Jones movies, which have not been infected and, like Star Wars, does not have original source material to draw from.

John Locke said...

Kathleen Kennedy killed star wars for me. I will not be back, ever.

John Locke said...

Kathleen Kennedy killed star wars for me. I will not be back, ever.

Joe Koday said...

Dammit, now I have to crunch a bunch of numbers based on BOSPG.

I took the 1500 highest grossing movies (per BoxOfficeMojo). Then matched them up with the US Real GDP for each year. Stuck it all in a spreadsheet:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1zXv-U4umUCjWasBL6WtT34fK8TwHQQZjzkfxvH9BLqE/edit?usp=sharing

As a % of RGDP, the #1 Highest Grossing Movie of all time is (no surprise) Gone With Wind. #2: Snow White. #3 Star Wars.

(You're going to find my % per GNP is off by a factor of one million. Just sayin'.)

COLUMNS:

Column A -- Rank: Order in terms of actual gross dollars.
Column B / C -- Name / Studio: Self Explanatory
Column D -- Gross: Self explanatory
Column E -- Year: Release year
Column F -- Real GDP: For the year the movie was released. See columns O & P. Source: Ehhh, I don't remember. One of the first couple of places I got from a Google Source.
Column G -- % Per GNP: (Gross/(GDP * 1,000,000)) (I wanted to work with whole numbers.)
Column H -- Rank %/G: Taking Column G and sorting it in rank order.


Column I was interesting. I subtracted the two rankings from each other. (A-H). Just to see what the most dramatic difference was between the two rankings. At the "top" (?) end of the scale, with a difference of 281 ranking points, is the 2018 "The Meg." Ranked 373rd in terms of gross dollars / but 654th of gross as a percentage of GDP.

At the other end of that scale is the 1940 movie Pinnochio. With 876 ranking points difference between it's #881 position in terms of gross dollars . . . but #5 as its gross as a percentage of GDP.

There were also two movies which had the EXACT same ranking on both scales: 2008's "What Happens In Vegas" is #948 on both scales. And 2016's "Alice Through The Looking" glass comes in at 999 no matter how you slice it.

Had to fake 2018 / 2019 GDP numbers 'cuz they ain't out yet.

No wonder I don't go to movies any more. Crunching their numbers tends to be far more interesting.

AKahl said...

There was always humour in Star Wars but it wasn't the sort of humour to be found in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Lord of the Rings was both serious and contained humour and the seriousness was important to establish the credibility of the fantastic world it took place in. This was also evident in first Star Wars films.

AKahl said...

Problem with the Indiana films is that there is, to date, only one new sequel film. I expect many fans of the first three, like me, would have gone to see the new sequel regardless.

However, I think your comparison would provide insight. I don't think the new star wars sequels were, in most part, bad because of politics. Instead, I just think they were bad films. Fans of the originals would have seen the first sequel regardless and we went on to see the second. However, it was such a poorly scripted film that it was impossible to leave the cinema no disappointed. I don't like the politics (partly because it creates holes in the third wall) but the film could have overcome this if it was otherwise good. It wasn't. It was terrible and I expect many will pass on the third.

Unknown said...

I agree, RotJ was the beginning of the decline of Star Wars. Making Leia Luke's sister was a major slap in the face. Lucas just wanted another "shock" moment like "I am your father", but then blows it right away in the beginning, "Leia! Leia is my sister!" Couldn't let the mystery hang until the third act, could you, George.

Also, Boba Fett, a "beloved" villain isn't even captilized on! He should have had an Ahab-like vendetta against the group, Han Solo in particular. Biggest misused character ever!


They also abandoned the idea of showing the Imperial Center (what would later become Coruscant in the prequels) and destroying unfinished weapons platforms guarding the planet rather than a second Death Star. So many good ideas thrown away.

Ewoks should have been more feral if they were to be used at all... or go with the original idea of Wookies!

Oh well. It's all b.s. now. I've said my goodbyes to Star Wars. No more money from me. TLJ was such an insult.

Wandering man said...

I agree with what The Phantom said, anime has much more character, even if it is all just harems and cute girls doing cute things. I watch a lot of anime and if I get board of that, I just watch YouTube, so f_ck tv.

Vader999 said...

Lucas should have made the franchise public domain instead of selling it. At least that would be him killing Lucasarts and Lucasfilms right. That way, people can make money off of fanfilms and fanmade games while not getting sued by some company run by greedy schmucks pretending to be peace-loving hippies. That way, the FANBASE can make money off the franchise, while Uncle Sam gets a cut by applying a small tax to newly-published fanfilms and games. Uncle Sam walks away happy, the fans walk away happy, and Lucas gets to look good. Everyone wins.

Unknown said...

Aaron...TLJ greatly underperformed because they were arrogant and wrote a lousy story. Every plot point JJ developed was resolved by blowing it up, trivializing it, or elsewise handwaving it away. That's not creativity...it's a hatchet job. Lousy script...lousy movie... period.