"Star Wars" a financial force beyond the box office

Dec 21, 2015 1:31 PM by CBS News

The long-awaited seventh installment of the Star Wars franchise, "The Force Awakens," is now open worldwide.

Thousands of fans lined up overnight Thursday for screenings at theaters across the country. "The Force Awakens" is the first Star Wars film to hit theaters in a decade and it means big business for everyone in its galaxy and beyond, reports Vladimir Duthiers of CBS News' digital network, CBSN.

The film will play in a reported 4,000 screens nationwide over the weekend. Box Office analysts predict the movie could bring in between one and a half to $2 billion in ticket sales.

"The merchandising surrounding this film is unprecedented," said Los Angeles Times film business reporter Daniel Miller.

But earnings are expected to stretch far beyond the box office.

"I came across Campbell's soup that was branded with a Star Wars character," Miller said. "I came across a Pottery Barn bed that was selling for four thousand dollars that looked like the Millennium Falcon."

Millions of Star Wars-themed toys will end up under Christmas trees this year. But a host of other companies are looking to take advantage of the Star Wars blitz, including shoe designers and household brands like Crest.

Richard Barry, the global chief merchandising officer for Toys R Us, says the store has had a 40-year relationship with the sci-fi franchise.

"Star Wars has been one of the most important and best-selling franchises in our stores, not just in the U.S. but around the world," Barry said.

And it's not just well-known chains getting in on the action.

Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn, New York is churning out Star Wars ice cream, after its co-founder Brian Smith struck up an unlikely friendship with Disney CEO Bob Iger.

"The first week of selling Star Wars, we sold as many pints online as we had sold online in the year previous," Smith said.

The family-owned business decided on two flavors -- one of which is the the "light side," which Smith called "the lightest most billowy, most ethereal ice cream we can do and that's marshmallow."

"I feel proud that we have done something that, you know, feels like Ample Hills and feels like Star Wars," Smith said.

Sales from "pre-tickets" have already brought in upwards of an estimated $100 million dollars.


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