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Disney to Release Digital Version of Star Wars Movies - Analyst Blog

Zacks Equity Research

The Walt Disney Company DIS in association with Lucasfilm Ltd and Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. FOXA will be releasing Star Wars movies on the digital platform for the first time ever on Apr 10, 2015.

All the six movies of the franchise will be available for download across all devices with never-seen-before footage and meaningful conversations from the makers of the franchise.

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding Star Wars ever since Disney announced the seventh episode titled Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It is the first Star Wars movie in a decade. The last release was Revenge of Sith in 2005.  

Star Wars, with a presence of almost 40 years, has gained an iconic status. A space saga, the franchise was the brainchild of George Lucas, made under the Lucasfilm banner and distributed by 21st Century Fox. The two trilogies have gained phenomenal worldwide success.

Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 for an estimated $4.1 billion and announced plans to revive the franchise with three new movies as well as three spin-off movies.

Disney is leaving no stone unturned to create massive publicity for The Force Awakens. Apart from releasing the digital version, the company is also developing ideas on adding Star Wars to its parks. Further, Star Wars: Episode VIII is ready for a May 26, 2017 release and the first spin-off movie of the franchise titled Rogue One is set for a Dec 2016 release.

Disney is firing on all cylinders. It has struck gold at the box office with almost every movie released over the last couple of years.  Frozen, Captain America 2, Maleficent and even the obscure series like Guardians of the Galaxy and more recently, Big Hero 6 and Cinderella, all have done exceptionally well at the box office.

Stupendous success of the movies has brought great business to the Consumer Products division as well as the Parks and Resort segments, helping the company to earn nearly $49 billion in revenues in fiscal 2014.

Disney is bracing for another great success with Avengers 2 slated for a May 1, 2015 release. The superheroes team re-uniting to fight Ultron is what movie buffs have been waiting for the past three years. The Avengers, released in 2012, not only had a fantastic opening but with a box office tally of over $1.5 billion, it is the third highest grossing film of all time behind 21st Century Fox’s Avatar and Titanic.

No wonder the sequel is already being labeled as a billion dollar movie. Apart from this, Disney’s Ant-Man, another Marvel superhero film, will be released in theaters on Jul 17. Given the buzz surrounding Marvel studios these days and runaway success of its movies, Ant-Man is likely to succeed. Imminent Disney releases also include Inside Out on Jun 17 and Tommorowland on May 20.

Finally, the release of The Force Awakens on Dec 18 will be a fitting end to what we believe will be a spectacular year.

With an impressive movie slate running up to 2017, addition of popular themes to Parks and Resorts and several other developments, there is no stopping the Disney juggernaut anytime in the near future.

Disney sports a Zacks #1 (Strong Buy).

Other Stocks to Consider

Apart from Disney, other stocks worth considering include New Media Investment Group Inc. NEWM and The New York Times Company NYT. Both carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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