The website, Cracked, recently posted an article which stated:

In 2016, $262.9 billion worth of Star Wars merchandise was sold.

Cracked Image

According to the 2016 GDP by country, if Star Wars was a country, it would be ranked 44th (or 43rd or 42nd depending on the source) by income - that doesn't seem right.

Was $262.9B worth of Star Wars merchandise sold in 2016?

  • If this claim states that 10m items are sold annually, with revenue of 262.9b, wouldn't that imply the average cost of item is $26,000 🤔
    – Phoenix
    Feb 21, 2018 at 14:53
  • @Phoenix The claim is 10 million lightsabers. There are other product lines, which would skew your numbers. Still there was an obvious discrepancy, which is why I asked the question - even without a notable counterclaim.
    – Coomie
    Feb 22, 2018 at 2:07

2 Answers 2


Nope, Cracked.com got it wrong.

They most likely based (some of) this claim on a Variety article:

‘Star Wars’ Movies Push Overall Licensed Merchandise Sales to $262 Billion

With “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” providing major boosts, global retail sales of licensed merchandise rose 4.4% to $262.9 billion last year, according to the Licensing Industry Merchandisers Assn.

... Variety - ‘Star Wars’ Movies Push Overall Licensed Merchandise Sales to $262 Billion - Dave McNary - May 22, 2017 9:00AM PT

Until I read the word "Overall" in Overall Licensed Merchandise, this article gave me the impression that they might be right.

I searched further and found the original LIMA article:

Retail Sales Up 4.4%; Entertainment and Corporate Trademarks Lead the Way

... Global sales of licensed products and services continued their solid growth pace in 2016, rising 4.4% to US$262.9 billion, according to the 2017 International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association's (LIMA) Annual Global Licensing Industry Survey.

Entertainment/Character licensing remains the largest industry category, accounting for US$118.3 billion, or 45% of the total global licensing market. Corporate/Brand Trademarks was the next biggest property type, generating US$54.6 billion in retail receipts for 20.8% of total revenues, followed by Fashion, with US$31.1 billion (11.8% of the total), and Sports at US$25.3 billion (9.6%)...

LIMA Study: Global Retail Sales of Licensed Goods and Services Hit US$262.9 Billion in 2016 - May 22, 2017, 09:00 ET

They don't even mention the Star Wars franchise in their article.

So the total global sales of licensed goods and services was US$262.9 billion (according to one study) and Star Wars played a role in the 4,4% growth according to Variety.

Bonus content:

Spot the difference between these two articles:

‘Star Wars’ Movies Push Overall Licensed Merchandise Sales to $262 Billion

‘Star Wars’ Helps Licensed Merchandise Sales Grow to $251.7 Billion


In addition to Jordys excellent answer, you can also easily deduce from the picture alone that the number is not plausible.

Checking the Disney Shop, the standard retail price of a lightsaber is $30.

According to the picture lightsabers are the most popular item with more than 10 million sold. Assuming a final number between 10 and 12 million puts the total sales of lightsabers somewhere between $300 and $360 million.

This would mean, that most popular item in your line-up amounts to barely more than 0.1% of total sales value. Which is very unrealistic.

Furthermore, the most expensive items in the shop are a TIE-Fighter shaped pen as well as an X-Wing one sold at $2620. Even assuming, those sell less than lightsabers but each also 10 million and disregarding the fact those are limited editions of 2000 each. They would only produce $52 billion of revenue.

The most expensive non-limited item I can find are several watches priced at $400. So, $4 billion revenue each for 10 million sales.

This means, the majority of items in the store need to be nearly as popular as lightsabers to even get close to the $262.9 billion figure.

  • 3
    Here's another way to look at it. Lets assume people who buy merchandise also watched the movie. The Force Awakens grossed $2 billion, 130 times less than merchandise sales. If tickets cost $8, this means that every single person who watched the movie also spend $1040 on merchandise. That's in no way realistic.
    – Kruga
    Feb 14, 2018 at 9:31

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