Cash registers awaken along with the Force

(Clockwise from far left) Star Wars action figures on sale in Manchester, United Kingdom, pet leashes at a Los Angeles store and neckties at a stall in an unofficial Star Wars convention held earlier this month in northern England. Sales of merchandi
Star Wars action figures on sale in Manchester, United Kingdom (above), pet leashes at a Los Angeles store and neckties at a stall in an unofficial Star Wars convention held earlier this month in northern England. Sales of merchandise are expected to generate more than US$5 billion (S$7 billion) in revenue for Walt Disney Studios in the first year of the new film's release.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
(Clockwise from far left) Star Wars action figures on sale in Manchester, United Kingdom, pet leashes at a Los Angeles store and neckties at a stall in an unofficial Star Wars convention held earlier this month in northern England. Sales of merchandi
Star Wars action figures on sale in Manchester, United Kingdom, pet leashes at a Los Angeles store (above) and neckties at a stall in an unofficial Star Wars convention held earlier this month in northern England. Sales of merchandise are expected to generate more than US$5 billion (S$7 billion) in revenue for Walt Disney Studios in the first year of the new film's release.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
(Clockwise from far left) Star Wars action figures on sale in Manchester, United Kingdom, pet leashes at a Los Angeles store and neckties at a stall in an unofficial Star Wars convention held earlier this month in northern England. Sales of merchandi
Star Wars action figures on sale in Manchester, United Kingdom, pet leashes at a Los Angeles store and neckties at a stall in an unofficial Star Wars convention held earlier this month in northern England (above). Sales of merchandise are expected to generate more than US$5 billion (S$7 billion) in revenue for Walt Disney Studios in the first year of the new film's release.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Cash registers are set to ring as the new Star Wars movie, the first in a decade, hits theatres this week, but the galaxy of goods the franchise has unleashed so far is already raking in record-breaking moolah.

Sales of merchandise - from Han Solo T-shirts to Darth Vader coffee mugs and Chewbacca in a Santa hat - are expected to generate more than US$5 billion (S$7 billion) in revenue for Walt Disney Studios, while the film itself could rake in more than US$9 billion in the first year of release for the studio and its partners - cinemas, retailers and television networks.

Ticket sales for The Force Awakens, which premieres here at midnight tonight, could generate US$2.4 billion, Nomura research said, while hundreds of millions of dollars could flow in from movie downloads, DVDs and video games.

Disney has further allowed Star Wars-themed products, ranging from pewter mugs featuring C-3PO to lightsaber chopsticks, to hit the market.

The rollout of more than 100 new Star Wars toys in the run-up to the movie was a cultural phenomenon.

Eight limited-edition Star Wars plush toys were available exclusively at Singapore's Changi Airport as part of a promotion, with nearly 140,000 sold, a Changi Airport Group (CAG) spokesman told The Straits Times.

"For just toys, just through the end of this year, US$150 million in royalties to Disney is a massive number," Mr Marc Mostman of merchandising agency Striker Entertainment told Wired. "This is a beast. I can't wait to see where else it will go."

Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012 for US$4.05 billion, and has seen its stock price more than double since then. Disney shares closed 1.21 per cent up at US$109.35 on the NYSE on Monday.

East Asia was just warming up to the Star Wars craze. Tens of thousands thronged the world's first-ever Lego Star Wars exhibition held at Times Square in Hong Kong last week. Japan, South Korea and China were the most excited about the new movie, online research firm Lamplight Analytics found.

In Singapore, while shops are full of merchandise, the main attraction has been the Star Wars-themed display at Changi Airport. "A constant stream of passengers and airport visitors have made the trip here to take that special photo or selfie," the CAG spokesman said. "Many have even come dressed as their favourite Star Wars character."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2015, with the headline 'Cash registers awaken along with the Force'. Print Edition | Subscribe