It’s not an overstatement to say that 2020 has been a rollercoaster of unexpected and more than difficult events. We’ve all found our way to deal with the stressful twists and turns, and for the Star Wars crowd, their solace is soon to be released on Disney+: The Mandalorian season 2.
Disney announced the October 30th season 2 release in early September. Fans immediately took to social media platforms to share their excitement and, with the recent release of the first trailer, it has only intensified.
But Disney, nor The Mandalorian, have been exempt from the turmoil of 2020. Here are some factors that may positively or negatively impact their revenue from The Mandalorian at the end of this year.
Baby Yoda Merchandise: A Success or Not?
In order to keep The Child (Baby Yoda) under wraps, Disney didn’t make merchandise featuring the character. They wanted it to be a complete surprise—and it was. While many anticipated missing out on Christmas sales may have cost Disney a pretty penny, according to Screen Rant, in terms of lost Baby Yoda sales, it actually went well, considering the unexpected events of 2020.
While the first season aired in December of last year, we wrote an article analyzing Disney’s decision to hold off on merchandise for The Child. We predicted it would be a success given all we knew in 2019.
In December of 2019 and the early months of 2020, sales of Baby Yoda merchandise were successful. On December 6th, 2019, just halfway through the first season, Funko Pop! announced its first The Child figurine as available for pre-order on Amazon. On the same day, it was sold out. The pre-order sales continued through January and February of the following year.
But, after that, the events of 2020 caused some disruption.
At the end of March and just after the virus had sent the United States into quarantine along with most of the world, comicbook explained: “Around the world, people have been quarantining themselves in their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in streaming services seeing massive surges in popularity, with the popularity of Disney+'s The Mandalorian resulting in "Baby Yoda" toy sales seeing major increases.”
According to Disney’s Q3 financial report, their park, experiences, and products revenue sector garnered $983M by the quarter’s completion on June 27th, which was an 85% decrease in revenue versus the previous year’s corresponding quarter. But looking at the revenue in the same sector over the last nine months (October 2019 - June 2020), the revenue was $13,922M which was only a 29% decrease over the same months last year.
Most of Disney’s domestic and international parks have been closed for the majority of 2020, with two parks reopening in China. Looking back at the end of 2019, the final quarter gained over $7M of the $13M for the nine-month revenue of the 2020 Q3 reports. By the end of March, the park, experiences, and products sector had gained over $5M in revenue. With the June revenue only coming to $983M, we can see a skewing toward the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020.
While these reports don’t specify how much revenue was due to Baby Yoda merchandise sales (which were primarily pre-ordered throughout the end of 2019 and the first three months of 2020), an interview with Hasbro CEO Brian Golden seems to think that the merchandise had a positive result for both his company and Disney.
“We clearly have seen that streaming has become more of a force in making connections with consumers and driving merchandising. That’s always been a question: could streamed content drive merchandising? And clearly Baby Yoda has done that. We saw that in the fourth quarter with some of our product directly related to The Mandalorian. Our pre-sales around Baby Yoda have been incredibly robust and we’re very excited to ship Baby Yoda late spring. [...] We clearly see Disney+ as a major advantage to Disney and also to licensees of Disney like Hasbro.”
The financial information given above doesn’t include revenue made from Disney+ as it doesn’t include revenue of merchandise based on Disney+ content.
Nuvi social listening monitors show that the fanbase is still hungry for more merchandise. They show that in the month of September 2,072 mentions pertained to merchandise. Those mentions were seen by over 21 million people, most of whom were their followers of the original post author which indicates that Star Wars merchandise discussion primarily stays within the fandom.
These fans weren’t just talking about Baby Yoda merch— they want anything pertaining to The Mandalorian.
While our prediction of the success of Baby Yoda merchandise may not be completely accurate due to this year’s unforeseen events, namely the virus, to say it didn’t have some level of positive success or effect on revenue would be a lie.
The final quarter of 2020 should see some increase in The Mandalorian merchandise revenue as Disney is wisely airing the series just as the holiday season begins.
What Fans are Saying According to Social Listening Analytics
Pop Culture is often and quickly integrated into emerging or other trends, which has primarily focused on social controversy or natural disasters this year.
“Baby Yoda Fights Fires”
One such instance occurred on the weekend of September 26th.
This post reached a total of 56.6K mentions, of which 56.4K was shared or retweeted. Altogether, the post was seen by over 35 million people.
This conversation was spurred by the efforts of a five-year-old boy named Carver who gifted Oregon firefighters with a Baby Yoda toy in an effort to help them feel love and comfort in a dangerous situation.
A family friend, Tyler Eubank, who follows the doll’s movements on a Facebook page called “Baby yoda fights fires” said, “They thought the firemen needed him. Carver wanted to put a smile on their faces and [he] hope[d] giving Yoda a hug would bring them comfort when they are away from home.”
The firefighters pass the doll and note from crew to crew. Marcus Kauffman of Oregon Department of Forestry told the local newspaper, The Register-Guard, “The note travels with Baby Yoda, and it goes from fire to fire. So, we just pass it around. Baby Yoda is a source of light and the force in the world.”
Carver’s sweet gesture caught the hearts of many Mandalorian fans and others.
2020 has witnessed a climax in social discourse with the BlackLivesMatter protests and riots. Discussion of social issues, particularly in regards to racial and gender equality, sexual orientation, and gender identity has been building for years, even generations.
Gina Carano, an MMA fighter and actress that plays Cara Dune on The Mandalorian, took to social media to share her opinion. Here are two of her sentiments that have angered those with opposing views, which in this case is trans activists:
The tweet that received the most backlash is on the subject of transgender issues. As you can see, she’s being termed a bigot as well as transphobic for putting boop/bop/beep in place of her pronouns onTwitter. Putting those terms in place of pronouns could be seen as mocking the trans community, and many have taken it that way.
On the other hand, Carano claims to have been harassed about not having her pronouns listed on Twitter in the first place and now is receiving more harassment because she decided to speak out about her experience with boop/bop/beep. She continues to maintain that she is standing up to bullying.
Here are just some examples of what followers are saying to Carano and her responses:
Unfortunately, although social discourse is vital to growth as a country, here we can see that the conversation isn’t productive in a way that generates change. If you click the links for the tweets (1, 2, 3, 4) and view the responses to many of the tweets and other discussions on this issue, comments towards Carano appear fairly aggressive or hostile. And Carano’s don’t appear to be diffusing the situation.
Those against Carano, which is a mixture of Mandalorian fans in support of the trans community and some that are simply supporting trans people, are calling for her to be removed from The Mandalorian due to her opinions and claim that the Star Wars fan base disagrees with her. While Disney is no stranger to fans or some of the public reacting poorly or angrily to an actor or actress’s social post, if this claim is true, The Mandalorian could see reduced viewership and fewer product purchases.
However, based on how the majority of the fans reacted to the recent trilogy, this claim isn’t representative of the entire Mandalorian fanbase. A common complaint with that trilogy was the political agenda inserted into them. They felt the primarily feminist and gender identity messaging was unnecessary and seemed to be favored by the trilogy creators over telling a “true” Star Wars story.
This tweet and this Reddit post represent another segment of Star Wars fans’ opinions:
For many Star Wars fans, they support and see the value of social discourse. They understand that everyone is different. While saying “it’s never okay to dislike The Mandalorian” is hyperbolic and most likely a joke, it does show that Star Wars is beloved by the fan base more than political or social discourse. They want to see Star Wars when they watch the movies or shows. They simply want the franchise to be true to itself, Star Wars lore, and storytelling best practices (the kind traditionally seen in Star Wars) rather than popular politics.
Many Star Wars fan YouTubers are speaking in support of Carano and saying that The Mandalorian with its lack of political commentary is a breath of fresh air. Much of the fanbase communicates and interacts on YouTube over other social media sites and so their opinions are often overlooked. One YouTuber, YellowFlash 2, said this:
“All she’s doing is sharing her opinion and there’s a fleet of people coming after her. There’s tons. I can’t go over them all. It’s funny; it’s all, of course, a bunch of Star Wars fans who all said that they love female roles, but apparently she’s not good enough for them. They’d like someone a little more lined up politically with what they want. That’s kinda the problem here. Anybody with a mindset like Gina, which I’m going to guess looking at the stuff she’s said in the past, she probably leans a little more conservatively than typical people in Hollywood, which is probably going to end up hurting her career. We’ve seen it before with Tim Allen and so on. People, if they are conservative, usually get booted out of the industry or just kinda blacklisted. I can see it happening to her and it's very unfortunate. It’s a big bias and it’s one of the reasons Hollywood is running into the ground because they have no diversity of thought. It’s only their way or the highway.”
Here are some of the comments on YellowFlash 2’s video:
This discourse involving Gina Carano’s opinions begs the question of whether The Mandalorian will see a drop in viewership or potential Disney+ subscribers. However, according to Nuvi monitors, even those who are against Carano’s opinion state that they will watch the show but simply pretend that her character is the real person while Carano is fictional.
So, it looks like Disney+ won’t lose a significant amount of viewers as a result of this controversy.
New Mandalorian Predictions
Toys, Toys, and More Toys
A common sub-discussion around any Star Wars film or TV shows is the figurines associated with it. The Mandalorian has been beautifully timed to capture holiday season sales. Many of the toys based on season 2 are already being showcased. If they’re trying to pull a Baby-Yoda-level surprise again, they should be able to capture those sales as well before the end of the year. All in all, toy sales are looking good for Q4.
We have a feeling that Mandalorian costumes will be quite popular this year, providing another high-potential revenue source for Disney in addition to toys.
However, according to the monitors, chatter around Mandalorian cosplay costumes is twice as much as purchasable costumes. A large portion of Star Wars fans are also part of the cosplay community, so those who buy costumes will likely be families or young adults not in the cosplay/Star Wars fandom.
Sales of Star Wars merchandise and Disney+ subscriptions are likely to increase with this second season. Since the release of the first season, Disney+ has become available for international audiences. With a larger audience, sales of merchandise and the attraction of new subscribers is highly likely, especially with the popularity of Star Wars globally.
New Actors, Actresses, and Characters
The Mandalorian season 2 is introducing new cast and characters that have generated excitement and discussion among fans.
One is Sasha Banks. She, similarly to Carano, is a wrestler with WWE and is co-starring in The Mandalorian’s second season. In the trailer that was released early in September, Banks makes a short appearance and fans have since been theorizing who her character is and what she will bring to the show. Some say she’s a Jedi, some predict a Sith, and some guess she will play a simple mercenary.
Another actress is Rosario Dawson, who is playing a fan-loved character and new addition to The Mandalorian known as Ahsoka Tano. Made popular by the animated series The Clone Wars, which came to a conclusion earlier this year, fans are excited to see Ahsoka again. They’re anxious to know what has become of her after Revenge of the Sith and throughout the entirety of the original trilogy, and while the character made several appearances in the animated Star Wars TV series Rebels, little is known of her life during that time period.
Another fan favorite is returning to the screen in more ways than one: Boba Fett, a Mandalorian bounty hunter that appeared in The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Attack of the Clones movies as well as The Clone Wars TV series.
To add to their excitement of Boba Fett joining The Mandalorian story, he is going to be played by Temuera Morrison. In Star Wars, the clone army that the Republic uses in the war against the Separatists all come from the DNA of one man: Jango Fett (played by Temuera Morrison), who is the father of Boba. As Boba is a clone of his father, they look exactly alike, and as fate would have it, Morrison is about the same age as Boba Fett would be in The Mandalorian. No one loves fated events more than a Force loving audience!
Sasha Banks, Ahsoka (Dawson), and Boba Fett (Morrison) are the focus of many fan theories. The excitement they’re generating is likely to draw more viewers and a desire for new figurines featuring the characters.
Social Listening and Customer Experience Analysis
Over the last 30 days as of the writing of the article, social listening monitors have shown that the Star Wars audience highly anticipates the release of The Mandalorian. Along with that anticipation are feelings of joy and trust.
There is a surprising amount of fear and sadness presented by the audience though. This fear and sadness are due to a mixture of factors. One mixture is the fanbase hoping the second season is as good as the first and fans’ tone while making predictions. Theorizing puts fans on the line as they expect a certain storyline or lore integration but know that it likely won’t be the way they imagine, so they’re fearful of disappointment. But the fear and sadness in the Star Wars fanbase were primarily due to the Baby Yoda/firefighter tweet above. It contained many words indicating fear or sadness, and, as the tweet was widely shared, it increased the perception of fear in the audience, although it isn’t attributed to the show. Sadness also includes a good majority of discussion around Gina Carano as well as Pedro Pascal (plays the main character) who is rumored to be leaving the show after this season.
Surprise is the highest emotion for similar reasons to the high fear and sadness scores. However, there is an additional factor: Sasha Banks’s appearance in the first trailer for The Mandalorian season 2. The Mandalorian team did well as far as customer experience to utilize the fanbase’s love of theorizing to generate more excitement and anticipation for the show.
Star Wars fans love the franchise not just because of the Jedi and their lightsabers or the fight between good and evil characterized through the Jedi and Sith; they love the lore.
As such, they’re a fan base that loves to theorize what is going to happen, what lore connections will be made, what new characters might be introduced, and why.
Here are some of their predictions:
All in all, The Mandalorian season 2 seems poised for success. Although The Mandalorian has had some bumps this year, so has almost everything else, unless another unexpected disaster happens this year, The Mandalorian should be a significant contributor to revenue along with other Disney+ releases scheduled in this final quarter.
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