“I have a bad feeling about this” was definitely not something George Lucas said when he negotiated a salary reduction to direct Star Wars in order to retain a 100% profit on the merchandise rights.
In fact, this proved to be one of the most lucrative decisions in movie merchandise history!
Through this deal George was wagering on his belief in the popularity of Star Wars, however, it is difficult to imagine even he knew what a global phenomenon it would become…
The largest toy manufacturer in the US (The Mego Corporation), bluntly rejected the right to produce Star Wars toys as they considered the movie to be a “Sci-fi B movie” and therefore of little value or consequence.
In May 1977, when Star Wars opened in the USA, not a single Star Wars toy had been produced.
Instead, a redeemable gift certificate was created that entitled children to four Star Wars action figures, to be sent out in the New Year. 500,000 of these ‘Early Bird Certificates’ were sold at $7.99 (£5.67) each.
In the first year alone 42 million star Wars toys were sold.
From 1977 – 1985 an estimated 300 million Star Wars action figures were sold across the globe, becoming the must have playthings for an entire generation.
Star Wars merchandise has earnt more than the movies themselves. The amendment young George Lucas made to his contract back in the Seventies turned out to be perhaps the most brilliant business move in the history of Hollywood!
The income generated from the sales of merchandise is estimated to be an incredible $22.5 billion (£16.6 Billion) in revenue.
In 2015 a pristine unopened packet of 7 action figures from the Empire Strikes Back fetched $32,500 (£23,000) at auction.
A poll of 2,000 people found that 5% of people still owned Star Wars toys that could be of value.
Prior to the 2015 release of The Force Awakens the value of Star Wars toys increased by 30%
The question is do you have any Star wars toys tucked away in a box in your attic?
Currently on display at the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge is one of the UK’s finest collections of Vintage Star Wars Toys and original Cinema Posters. Including a rare piece of cinema history; a concept poster from the first Star Wars film designed Tom Beauvais (fans can purchase a limited edition print signed by Tom Beauvais).
LAST CHANCE TO SEE May The Toys Be With You in the Beaney’s Special Exhibitions Room.
Exhibitions closes Sunday 6 March 2016
Visitors are asked to make a Pay What You Can donation to support future exhibitions
FREE TALK THIS SATURDAY 5TH MARCH:
Collecting Rooms – BOOK HERE
Saturday 5 March, 11am
The Learning Lab, The Beaney
Free, Advanced admission or drop in on the day (Limited Spaces)
Talk by Dr Sam Vale – Senior Lecturer in Photography at Canterbury Christ Church University
Artist Sam Vale discusses his creative practice, which explores a number of different private spaces and the collections that fill them. Working with interviews, photography and moving image, Vale gathers his subjects’ personal accounts and re-presents them, producing artworks that aim to reveal the distinctive stories hidden in private collections. Sam’s film ‘Behind the Scenes’ is the ‘May the Toys Be With You’ exhibition.