Despite the success of Star Wars: The Last Jedi during the holiday season, the sales for toys tied into the movie are alarmingly in a downturn.
For decades, Hollywood has enjoyed the hefty profit from toy sales, and Star Wars films have been at the forefront. The past holiday season, which is supposed to be the most profitable weeks of the year, showed that shoppers may be tired of the trend.
Movie Fatigue Contributes To The Sales Slump In Toy Industry
Even with the success of the movie, analysts attribute the slump in toy sales to consumer burnout. This may be due to constantly being bombarded with novelty products that are also Hollywood's promotional products for upcoming movies. It's especially important for profit as children are getting more adept at using digital assets such as YouTube, Netflix, and social media for their entertainment fix.
Gerrick Johnson, an analyst for BMO Capital Markets, calls the phenomenon "movie fatigue" in a Bloomberg News report. Over the past decade, the films with toy-licensing programs have doubled. In 2017 alone, it was a whopping 20 films.
Meanwhile, movie attendance in the United States dropped nearly 14 percent over the same span of 10 years.
"There are so many screens now; kids aren't just at the movies," Johnson explains. "A movie doesn't have the same resonance it used to."
Lack Of New Characters A Factor For 'Star Wars' Sales Decline
Star Wars enjoys over 40 years of dominance in toy sales and during the last holiday period, the franchise still had the top spot in toy sales. However, its toy line experienced a drop since 2016, with the brand losing its top position for the year.
2016 was especially successful sales for the Star Wars brand due to the release of The Force Awakens in December 2015 and the spin-off (Rogue One) a year later.
Because The Last Jedi doesn't introduce a slew of new main characters like Rogue One did, Johnson explains that consumers explored other new and trendy toy lines in 2017. This comes even if the latest Star Wars film is recognized as the top-grossing movie in the country in 2017. It boasted an impressive opening weekend.
"Star Wars is a force to be reckoned with in the toy industry," Disney says in an official statement. "It remains the leading film-driven property for the entire year."
Hasbro, who holds the main Star Wars toy partnership, has declined to comment. Jakks Pacific Inc. also declined to comment on Star Wars toy sales, although, it added that fellow Disney film Moana toys still enjoys quite a success in sales.
Experts Expect Shift In Marketing Tactics
With more movies slated for Star Wars, Marvel, DC Universe, and Fantastic Beasts franchises, toymakers will likely still be looking for tie-ins with mega films. However, now they know that it's not enough to rely on the movies for marketing.
"There is a new paradigm," Johnson says. "Just because there is a movie with a toy tie-in doesn't necessarily mean it's going to work."
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is still in theaters. The second installment of the sequel trilogy is widely acclaimed by critics and audiences around the world.