Let's face it, Acquired borders on Star Wars fan podcast anyways. So we dipped our toe in the water of making it official, with our review of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
We are joined by fellow Star Wars nerd and repeat special guest, Chetan Puttagunta, General Partner at Benchmark. In this episode, we *nearly* avoid any business analysis or speculation on the technology, media, or enterprise ecosystems, with only a brief revisit to the question: "Was it worth it for Disney to buy Lucasfilm?"
Did we love it, hate it, or want to bury it like the prequels? Tune in! There are definitely spoilers, so be warned!
We finally did it. After five years and over 100 episodes, we decided to formalize the answer to Acquired’s most frequently asked question: “what are the best acquisitions of all time?” Here it is: The Acquired Top Ten. You can listen to the full episode (above, which includes honorable mentions), or read our quick blog post below.
Note: we ranked the list by our estimate of absolute dollar return to the acquirer. We could have used ROI multiple or annualized return, but we decided the ultimate yardstick of success should be the absolute dollar amount added to the parent company’s enterprise value. Afterall, you can’t eat IRR! For more on our methodology, please see the notes at the end of this post. And for all our trademark Acquired editorial and discussion tune in to the full episode above!
Purchase Price: $4.2 billion, 2009
Estimated Current Contribution to Market Cap: $20.5 billion
Absolute Dollar Return: $16.3 billion
Back in 2009, Marvel Studios was recently formed, most of its movie rights were leased out, and the prevailing wisdom was that Marvel was just some old comic book IP company that only nerds cared about. Since then, Marvel Cinematic Universe films have grossed $22.5b in total box office receipts (including the single biggest movie of all-time), for an average of $2.2b annually. Disney earns about two dollars in parks and merchandise revenue for every one dollar earned from films (discussed on our Disney, Plus episode). Therefore we estimate Marvel generates about $6.75b in annual revenue for Disney, or nearly 10% of all the company’s revenue. Not bad for a set of nerdy comic book franchises…
Total Purchase Price: $70 million (estimated), 2004
Estimated Current Contribution to Market Cap: $16.9 billion
Absolute Dollar Return: $16.8 billion
Morgan Stanley estimated that Google Maps generated $2.95b in revenue in 2019. Although that’s small compared to Google’s overall revenue of $160b+, it still accounts for over $16b in market cap by our calculations. Ironically the majority of Maps’ usage (and presumably revenue) comes from mobile, which grew out of by far the smallest of the 3 acquisitions, ZipDash. Tiny yet mighty!
Total Purchase Price: $188 million (by ABC), 1984
Estimated Current Contribution to Market Cap: $31.2 billion
Absolute Dollar Return: $31.0 billion
ABC’s 1984 acquisition of ESPN is heavyweight champion and still undisputed G.O.A.T. of media acquisitions.With an estimated $10.3B in 2018 revenue, ESPN’s value has compounded annually within ABC/Disney at >15% for an astounding THIRTY-FIVE YEARS. Single-handedly responsible for one of the greatest business model innovations in history with the advent of cable carriage fees, ESPN proves Albert Einstein’s famous statement that “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.”
Total Purchase Price: $1.5 billion, 2002
Value Realized at Spinoff: $47.1 billion
Absolute Dollar Return: $45.6 billion
Who would have thought facilitating payments for Beanie Baby trades could be so lucrative? The only acquisition on our list whose value we can precisely measure, eBay spun off PayPal into a stand-alone public company in July 2015. Its value at the time? A cool 31x what eBay paid in 2002.
Total Purchase Price: $135 million, 2005
Estimated Current Contribution to Market Cap: $49.9 billion
Absolute Dollar Return: $49.8 billion
Remember the Priceline Negotiator? Boy did he get himself a screaming deal on this one. This purchase might have ranked even higher if Booking Holdings’ stock (Priceline even renamed the whole company after this acquisition!) weren’t down ~20% due to COVID-19 fears when we did the analysis. We also took a conservative approach, using only the (massive) $10.8b in annual revenue from the company’s “Agency Revenues” segment as Booking.com’s contribution — there is likely more revenue in other segments that’s also attributable to Booking.com, though we can’t be sure how much.
Total Purchase Price: $429 million, 1997
Estimated Current Contribution to Market Cap: $63.0 billion
Absolute Dollar Return: $62.6 billion
How do you put a value on Steve Jobs? Turns out we didn’t have to! NeXTSTEP, NeXT’s operating system, underpins all of Apple’s modern operating systems today: MacOS, iOS, WatchOS, and beyond. Literally every dollar of Apple’s $260b in annual revenue comes from NeXT roots, and from Steve wiping the product slate clean upon his return. With the acquisition being necessary but not sufficient to create Apple’s $1.4 trillion market cap today, we conservatively attributed 5% of Apple to this purchase.
Total Purchase Price: $50 million, 2005
Estimated Current Contribution to Market Cap: $72 billion
Absolute Dollar Return: $72 billion
Speaking of operating system acquisitions, NeXT was great, but on a pure value basis Android beats it. We took Google Play Store revenues (where Google’s 30% cut is worth about $7.7b) and added the dollar amount we estimate Google saves in Traffic Acquisition Costs by owning default search on Android ($4.8b), to reach an estimated annual revenue contribution to Google of $12.5b from the diminutive robot OS. Android also takes the award for largest ROI multiple: >1400x. Yep, you can’t eat IRR, but that’s a figure VCs only dream of.
Total Purchase Price: $1.65 billion, 2006
Estimated Current Contribution to Market Cap: $86.2 billion
Absolute Dollar Return: $84.5 billion
We admit it, we screwed up on our first episode covering YouTube: there’s no way this deal was a “C”. With Google recently reporting YouTube revenues for the first time ($15b — almost 10% of Google’s revenue!), it’s clear this acquisition was a juggernaut. It’s past-time for an Acquired revisit.
That said, while YouTube as the world’s second-highest-traffic search engine (second-only to their parent company!) grosses $15b, much of that revenue (over 50%?) gets paid out to creators, and YouTube’s hosting and bandwidth costs are significant. But we’ll leave the debate over the division’s profitability to the podcast.
Total Purchase Price: $3.1 billion, 2007
Estimated Current Contribution to Market Cap: $126.4 billion
Absolute Dollar Return: $123.3 billion
A dark horse rides into second place! The only acquisition on this list not-yet covered on Acquired (to be remedied very soon), this deal was far, far more important than most people realize. Effectively extending Google’s advertising reach from just its own properties to the entire internet, DoubleClick and its associated products generated over $20b in revenue within Google last year. Given what we now know about the nature of competition in internet advertising services, it’s unlikely governments and antitrust authorities would allow another deal like this again, much like #1 on our list...
Purchase Price: $1 billion, 2012
Estimated Current Contribution to Market Cap: $153 billion
Absolute Dollar Return: $152 billion
When it comes to G.O.A.T. status, if ESPN is M&A’s Lebron, Insta is its MJ. No offense to ESPN/Lebron, but we’ll probably never see another acquisition that’s so unquestionably dominant across every dimension of the M&A game as Facebook’s 2012 purchase of Instagram. Reported by Bloomberg to be doing $20B of revenue annually now within Facebook (up from ~$0 just eight years ago), Instagram takes the Acquired crown by a mile. And unlike YouTube, Facebook keeps nearly all of that $20b for itself! At risk of stretching the MJ analogy too far, given the circumstances at the time of the deal — Facebook’s “missing” of mobile and existential questions surrounding its ill-fated IPO — buying Instagram was Facebook’s equivalent of Jordan’s Game 6. Whether this deal was ultimately good or bad for the world at-large is another question, but there’s no doubt Instagram goes down in history as the greatest acquisition of all-time.
Methodology and Notes:
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Transcript: (disclaimer: may contain unintentionally confusing, inaccurate and/or amusing transcription errors)
Ben: Well I only have one way that I can open this. The dead speak.
David: Let’s avoid it. It’s morbid.
Chetan: Oh boy.
Ben: All right listeners, despite my failure at a killer opening line, we are doing an LP episode on The Rise of Skywalker. Actually, I was thinking about this. This is as far away from the type of content that we normally do as you could possibly get, but the amount of times on the show that we've covered Disney, Star Wars, Pixar, it's actually not shocking that we would do a Star Wars review episode.
David: I think it's crazy we haven't already.
David: We did an episode on an airline merger.
Chetan: It's like enterprise software, so yeah.
Ben: That that voice you hear, listeners, is Chetan Puttagunta from Benchmark. I was thinking about this. Chetan I think you are the only repeat guest in the history of either Acquired show.
Chetan: Wow. I'm honored.
David: Yeah, you're very special. We have to give you a special title, honored guest.
Chetan: Co-host emeritus?
David: What are the honorary degrees you get like Muhammad Ali got one of my graduation for college?
Chetan: Oh really? Like a doctorate?
David: Yeah, something like that.
Chetan: Arts and letters?
Ben: Well, he could be a strategic director.
David: I like that. Venture partner?
Chetan: It could be a venture partner.
Ben: Yeah, I think he’s a venture partner.
David: Venture capitalist and venture partner. There we have it.
Ben: Chetan and I were catching up a few weeks ago and we spent 45 of the 60 minutes that we had together. It was before the movie came out, talking about our excitement for the movie and expectations for it. Chetan gave me a spoiler which I didn't appreciate and mentioned some of the reviews. I was like, “If we can spend 45 minutes of our time catching up on this, maybe we should actually do a proper episode when the film comes out and talk about it.”
Chetan: Here we are.
Ben: You've seen it how many times?
Chetan: I've seen it three times. How about you?
Ben: I'm a two-timer.
David: I'm just a lonely one-timer.
Chetan: Between the three of us, we have six viewings.
David: That average is two per...
David: We’re not going to talk about this. No spoilers on this episode, but there's spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker, there's spoilers from The Mandalorian. I have not watched the TV series since Friday Night Lights was the last one. I can't justify the amount of time. I do The Mandalorian.
Chetan: I watch a lot of TV.
David: I loved it. I thought it was so, so good.
Ben: For how many times now? I've told David this episode is not about The Mandalorian and somehow he found a way to [...] The Mandalorian.
Chetan: The Mandalorian is very good. We’re going to do a lot of spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker.
Ben: Wait, have you seen The Mandalorian now?
Chetan: Yeah, I have.
Chetan: I wanted to wait until the last episode with a day away, so that I could just see it like a continuous show.
David: You wanted to [...].
Ben: Now that you've seen it, do we want to say it's okay to have Mandalorian spoilers or do we want to make this episode more accessible to more audiences and stay strictly…
Chetan: We can refer to it, but it’s a pretty distinct universes at this point. I mean, eventually The Mandalorian will show up into this trilogy, but it's pretty far removed.
Ben: Okay, all right. Listeners, from here on out, this is officially the spoiler horn of sorts. You have been warned, Rise of Skywalker, if you haven't seen it and you don't want spoilers, do not continue to listen and The Mandalorian, we will have light allusions to things happening, but we will try to stay relatively spoiler-free on that front.
Structure for this episode, first we're going to go around the table. We're going to talk about our overall impressions of the film, then we’re going to move into specific things we liked about the movie, then go into things we did not like about the movie. We may bring in some standard Acquired episode structure from there depending on time and I won’t talk about what that is yet. We'll let the conversation evolve organically. Does anyone have a burning desire to start about what you think of this film?
Chetan: I want to go first. I think the part that Ben, at the start of this episode, alluding to the minor spoiler was that I was telling him about the Rotten Tomatoes score. You see this clear bridge between critics and fans score. The Tomatometer has it at 54% and the audience score is 86%. It's a pretty remarkable…
Chetan: Difference. Yeah, exactly. Even if you compared to The Last Jedi, it's 91% Tomato score.
David: No way.
Chetan: And 43% audience score.
Ben: It's a great way to frame it up that like The Last Jedi was much more a film for critics and a film for film buffs, if you can make a Star Wars film for film buffs and The Rise of Skywalker is a little bit more of a popcorn fan-service movie that is definitely not designed for film critics, which is of course a difference between JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson.
Chetan: The interesting thing is Force Awakens was beloved by both, Tomatometer, it's like 93% for The Force Awakens and 86% for audience. The Force Awakens, you kick off the new trilogy, it's like, “Okay, were back on solid footing again.”
Ben: Hell yeah, everyone feels good about it, I basically just watch A New Hope again and it was awesome.
Chetan: It was like, “Okay, we hit reset.” Whatever you feel about the prequels, whether you want to be super unique and contrarian and say, “They were good,” or logical and say, “They sucked.”
David: For the record, where are you on that?
Chetan: I was not a fan. I will say that The Phantom Menace, I enjoyed because I watched it. I mean it was like a kid’s movie. It had pod racing and the pod racing tied to a great video game on N64.
Ben: Yeah. Some of us played that on Mac OS 9. It was awesome.
Chetan: Yeah. I played it on a console, but there was a clear link to a video game. There's a really funny YouTube video about the last fight in The Phantom Menace, it’s like miss and dodge [...]. It’s hilarious, I encourage everybody to check it out on YouTube about how it's a terrible fight actually, but when you're watching it, it's really fun and the John Williams score behind it is really fun. I thought The Phantom Menace was really fun. The following two episodes or the prequel trilogy left me with a lot of desire for more.
You get to The Force Awakens and it's like a nice reset button, Kylo Ren’s really cool. You start seeing Luke Skywalker, Han Solo was amazing, he is such a good arc for that character, and then you go into The Last Jedi, which I really enjoyed. I thought it was a fresh take, but then you come into this one, The Rise of Skywalker and you see how problematic The Last Jedi was because, you killed Snoke, so it’s like, “Who's the bad guy now?”
It's cheesy to go back to the Emperor and then it was like, “Okay well, we were back to that guy,” “Well, how did he how did he come back?” and it was like, “Yeah, don’t worry about that.” He's in this far away land and he's built this amazing army with all these people, where did they come from? How have they even been hiding for 40 years?
David: All of my dislikes about the movie like, [...].
Ben: He had a child at some point, there was a woman that was—whatever.
Chetan: It was like, “Just accept this,” and it’s like, “Okay fine.” What I did like about it was that they just started with it. They were just like, “We're not even going to hide it, the emperor's alive, deal with it. Now, go.”
Ben: It’s crackling throughout the galaxy.
Chetan: Yes, exactly, and what I enjoyed was it just felt like one of those Disneyland rides, where it was just like, “We're going to take you to all these different worlds. It’s all going to be really fun. Don’t worry about it. Don’t be too serious. You're here for the lightsabers. It'll be fine.” You know what I enjoyed? It was a pure popcorn movie. It was a really nice fun film. It's re-watchable.
David: But you would know.
Chetan: Yes, it’s obviously re-watchable, it's fun. Every time through, it's fun. It's light, there's nothing too serious. It's very much like on the surface and doesn't want to deal with too many serious themes. It just moves and the movie moves, too, because they're going to so many planets.
Ben: It moves fast. They cut so much out of this movie. I know you want to talk about the JJ edit later, but we should point out that the script was clearly twice as long as this movie ended up being because the pacing is nuts.
Did you know that the opening scene is actually on… what's the planet where Vader becomes Vader and the lightsaber [...] and he builds that crazy palace that we see briefly in Rogue One. Well, Chetan, he knows that. The opening scene where he's finding the Wayfinder and he’s finding…
Ben: Mustafar, he’s on freaking Mustafar and it’s so cool.
Chetan: Yeah, exactly.
David: I didn’t realize until Googling afterwards, that is the same planet where Obi-Wan delimbs him.
Ben: Can you imagine?
Chetan: I have the higher ground.
Ben: Which obviously means you win the fight here in Star Wars, like that's all it took the whole time was take the higher ground.
Ben: But I mean on Mustafar, there’s there's so much interesting lore there and what do we get? We get like eight seconds of slashing through a forest, him grabbing the Wayfinder and then flying off through the galaxy. I was like, “Whoa, okay. That's all we're going to get on Mustafar?”
Chetan: Yeah. Just to start with the overall impressions, I am more in the audience score camp, which is that I thought it was really fun. I thought it moved really well. It’s a lot of fun. It's really re-watchable. I think it'll stand the test of time and just a fun movie. I think The Force Awakens was better because it was such a wonderful reset and The Last Jedi was just different. It just takes Star Wars to place that it hasn't gone before. I think those two are the outstanding movies of this trilogy, but this is a fun way to end it. It's great, I enjoyed it. That's my initial impression.
David: All right. I can go next. I have some other stuff I would get to, but I'm going to save it for a later session. Very similar reaction. I felt the whole time sitting in the movie theater, next to Jenny, we kept turning to each other and just smiling. It was one of those where you're just like, “Yeah,” in the middle of it.
Ben: It’s a Disneyland ride.
David: It’s a ride. Exactly. You nailed it. But the minute I walked out of the theater, it hasn't stuck with me in the same way as almost every other Star Wars movie. While I did then Google all the lore and find out about Mustafar, it felt like I was doing it because I had to. I didn't want to Google all the lore, whereas definitely The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, too, in its own way. I was like, “I cannot wait to get on Wikipedia and Wookieepedia as soon as the credits roll,” and I just didn't have that desire to go deeper this time. That's my hot take.
Ben: I largely agree with Chetan and the thing that I'll throw out that is my overriding angst with this film is that they really needed to pick one director for this whole trilogy and let it be their vision. It was just so clear that JJ was undoing in/or mopping up the Rian stuff. Chetan, maybe you told me this. Yeah, this was you, that JJ has this film style where he tees up these big questions of, “Who are Rey’s parents? Who is Snoke?” We got all this interesting stuff in The Force Awakens. The Force Awakens—let's be clear—was a New Hope in a modern era with slightly newer characters and really awesome graphics, but like…
Chetan: It’s a bigger Death Star.
David: It was A New Hope for the modern era with a female lead.
Ben: Lots of fan service.
Chetan: Starkiller Base, not Death Star.
Ben: Yeah, which is a great reference. Then Rian Johnson comes in and for anyone who saw Looper, Rian, in his element, is an amazing director and he's an artist, but by no means popcorn. So Rian comes in and says, “Those questions JJ asks, not only am I not going to tell you the answer, I'm going to basically tell you those questions don't matter. The answers to those questions are unimportant.” I know we were built up to this but it's almost like a melody that doesn't resolve and your brain is stuck on this note of, “I thought it was supposed to resolve,” and it kills you.
When JJ comes back in, he's like, “I really need to deliver a finale for this franchise. He undoes that and says, “They do matter. Here's what they are.” The pacing required to do that and the convoluted insanity of some of the plot points, you walk out of the movie and you're like, “I can see how that works, but gosh that’s not like an elegant threading of an explanation to these answers.” That's like, “I did check all the boxes in answering those but gosh it was painful to get there.”
Chetan: It’s like, “I created Snoke,” and then you see this little test tube thing.
Ben: “I created Snoke.” “Oh, look at all these baby Snokes [...] we’re never going to ever explain.”
Chen: You're like, “So there were multiple Snokes?”
Ben: At first I was like, “Okay, figuratively because guy thinks he’s really important. Palpatine was the big bad emperor and he created everything. “No, no, I literally grew from this weird tube.”
David: There a term for them in the lore but all the people in the stadium audience at the end with the final battle were like, “Who are all those people?”
Chetan: All the Siths.
David: It’s like a big party. It’s like the Super Bowl of Siths.
Ben: Okay, so I have a question on that. I know this is the wrong section for this, but whatever. This is Acquired. All the sections bleed together and everyone knows this. If there's only ever to Siths at once, is that still true that there are only ever two?
Chetan: Yeah, what happened to that? You get all the Siths. In The Phantom Menace, it was like there are always two. They made that clear.
Ben: And the baddest living Sith, is it always true that they contain all the previous Siths? Is that what we were told to walk away with there?
Chetan: I guess.
Ben: I have a little bit of confusion around, were those all Force ghosts or are all those Siths actually active and alive here in the world?
David: They only come with mid-level managers.
Ben: They sure felt more present to me than Obi-Wan did in The New Hope, but getting into this convoluted crap, Force ghosts can use the Force now, and can like grab lightsabers out of the air.
Ben: What is the difference between a Force ghost and the real world anyway?
Chetan: Well, they can do lightning, too. Remember, Yoda does lightning.
Ben: Yeah, what the hell.
Chetan: As a Force ghost, he lights up a tree. Maybe we should talk about what we liked.
David: What do we like?
Ben: Guys, number one thing anybody should like from this movie is Chewie gets his medal. It’s the best thing ever. It took me a second to realize what was going on and I was like, “Oh, my God.” This is the fan service moment that everyone's been angstsy about since the end of The New Hope. It’s a beautiful and wonderful thing.
David: It’s like, “Why didn’t you give Chewie a medal?”
Ben: This would be a bad movie as if I said that was my favorite part of the movie, but I thoroughly enjoyed that moment.
David: I really liked the end. I really liked The Rise of Skywalker. It just made me smile.
Ben: I almost actually cried.
David: We'll get into Rey’s parents, her family, and the back-story, but I love the end.
Chetan: I thought Kylo was just really great.
David: Yeah, he’s such a good actor.
Chetan: Yeah. I think Adam Driver did a really good job. I think Adam Driver is a really good character. I liked the allusion to Kylo Ren’s suit, to Vader’s suit, the similarities between the inspiration from samurai suits. I liked when the mask broke and they put it together with that red stuff which is like another…
Ben: When the ape did it?
Chetan: Was it that? I don’t know.
Ben: I swear to God, it was a monkey reassembling his [...].
Chetan: That was another allusion to Japanese pottery. I thought that Kylo is a [...] character.
Ben: I get that. That’s cool.
Chetan: I thought the lightsaber fights did really well. I thought Kylo and Rey’s fight on the Death Star was fun.
Ben: Oh my God, that was another time that I got really emotional during the movie. It was when they play, I think it's technically called the Emperor's Theme, but it's basically a modified version of The Imperial March when Rey comes in to (basically) Palpatine's chamber in the death star with the last…
Chetan: The throne room basically.
Ben: Yeah. The last scene of the Return of the Jedi takes place. Everything about that scene is incredibly well done. I know it's a fan service moment. Let me be clear about why I'm mad about fan service moments. I think they're cheap. There are ways to get people to smile during the movie, but then it doesn't survive and create like, this is a great movie 20 years later in the same way that A New Hope is a great movie 30 years later.
Every time there's a fan service moment, there's a part of me that's lit up inside and like, “This is so awesome,” and then there's another part of me that's like, “Meh. This is a cheap thrill.” Even though it was a big fan service moment, I thought it delivered just like incredible deep emotion where you felt all of the chill of Return of the Jedi right there, it came back.
Chetan: I like Han Solo coming back. Anytime I can get more Harrison Ford, I'm all for it.
David: You guys [...]. Didn’t Harrison Ford not want to be in the trilogy? That's why he negotiated to die in The Force Awakens?
Ben: Yes and then they convinced JJ to come back for this one because I heard that this scene was actually originally going to be Carrie. It was not going to be Harrison Ford and this was a nice way to modify it, but I actually thought, if this was ever intended to be Carrie, this is way better.
David: Way better, yeah.
Ben: This I think is the best dialogue maybe in the whole movie when Harrison Ford is first talking, it's the exact thing that he said to Kylo right before Kylo killed him. Then they're able to fork from that conversation. I think it's a new dialogue that continues from them when he's able to make a different decision and not repeat history. I also thought that the ending with Rey’s dad and he's about to say, “I love you,” and Harrison Ford says, “I know,” it’s like the greatest both moment in fan service and new dialogue at the same time.
David: Yeah, that is like the moment on the bridge in the Death Star with Rey where it’s fan service, but it’s so smart that you know it’s going to stand the test of time.
Chetan: I really like that. There's a lot of stuff going on the final act where they're in Exogol, but I really liked when both Rey and Kylo are separately fighting, they got to get through that initial before the final boss, but I thought that was fun.
Ben: Also an amazing moment in the film where she puts a lightsaber behind her head and appears…
David: Yes, that was cool.
Chetan: And then he stands up and then does the little shrug and he's like…
Ben: “The Han Solo shrug, you are Han Solo’s son.”
Chetan: Yeah exactly. That was awesome. That I loved and the dual lightsaber defense. Again, huge fan service. I loved it.
Ben: Also the deviation from... when is it that they used the two lightsabers and then behead the guy?
Chetan: That's in the prequels.
Ben: You're right.
David: Yeah. I don't think that's in the original.
Chetan: Anakin does that. Anakin has two lightsabers.
Ben: Yeah, and it's showing like a departure. If you were dark side, if you had turned, what you would do with these two lightsabers heading towards someone’s neck is pull that move, and here you are, a centered Jedi. What you would do is just cause the Force light. Just push back hard enough to use his own Force lightning against him and not let your anger get the better of you.
The first time I saw this (I know taking a derailment here), I was really mad, because at the end I was like, “What the hell?” It turned from this moment where if she kills Palpatine, then she becomes the new Sith Lord by using her anger to kill him. Why is it that now that she has two lightsabers, she kills them and she's not the Sith Lord and didn't inherit all the thousands of Sith and the Superbowl stadium behind her.
I find that on the second viewing it was like, “I see,” she was playing pure defense the whole time. she just let his Force lightning reverberate against him and he sort killed himself there which is a little bit of my frustration with JJ convoluted plot stuff, but in the end I was like, “That's actually a pretty good way to differentiate it.”
Chetan: That's what I like. The Anakin fights Count Dooku with two lightsabers.
Ben: That's what it was.
David: That was Revenge of the Sith. That’s when Anakin’s turning. Talk about the dislikes.
Ben: I thought at the end, Rey’s lightsaber was awesome. The little clicky turnaround thing was a pretty sweet little mechanism. I also thought it being yellow was really cool and more than just, “A yellow lightsaber,” the only time we've seen a non green, blue, or black one was Mace Windu because of Samuel Jackson’s special request for purple. The yellow I think is her fulfilling the prophecy and bringing balance to the Force where it's the first non-Jedi or a Sith lightsaber. She has officially brought balance and is like her own new thing now. Maybe. I don't know for sure that that's what that is, but of course if she constructs her own lightsaber, it’s not going to be [...].
David: I can't remember now, but there have been yellow lightsabers in non-canon Star Wars.
Ben: Get out of here with your legends [...].
Chetan: Why are you making non-canon references?
Ben: It is fair. The non-canon stuff, what was it before that? I can't remember what they used to call it, but that stuff is the inspiration for new canon. They choose what they want to bring in. It’s all worthy.
David: Which by the way, Disney does so many things so right. That's such a great business strategy. Embrace the fan.
Ben: Embrace and extend. Someone else has thought of that before. You're right. That's a great point. Also, talk about an acquisition done right. They're like, “Yeah, we're going to make a bunch of new stuff and it's all confusing right now, so we're going to choose what is canon. Sorry to everything else, but there is a Disney canon now.” That actually worked. There are fights on Reddit, but that's okay. Those people are still going to see the movie.
Chetan: And remember the movie is about to hit $1 billion in ticket sales.
Ben: But it's underperformed broadly. It certainly wasn't as big as The Force Awakens.
Chetan: No, The Force Awakens is huge.
David: $2.068 billion. I'm on Box Office Mojo right now for all three.
Chetan: But it’s doing well. It's going to cross $1 billion.
David: The Last Jedi worldwide $1.33 billion, The Rise of Skywalker $927 million right now. I don't know enough to predict where that's going to, “Okay, that's going to end up,” I'm not close enough to the media world anymore to say something like, “Yeah, that's going to surpass $1.33 billion or not.”
Chetan: It's likely going to hit $1 billion.
David: It's going to hit $1 billion for sure there.
Ben: Yeah, if Chetan just keeps going to the right, then he is starting to…
Chetan: I personally will take it them now.
Ben: All right, I got a few more things I really loved about this movie. The scene where Rey and Kylo are both Force fighting over the ship, I thought was one really amazing to show that she has power beyond any other Jedi that we've ever seen before. No one 's ever stopped a ship and pulled it back down to earth.
Then to layer on top of that, she has Sith lightning as one of her powers, and she can't control it. That was a really badass way to tee up her wrestling with these visions that she is seeing and maybe she does have a destiny to sit on this Sith throne. I think it was surprising. I was shocked at the moment to see it. Also, I think it holds up when you're thinking about her journey as a character and hero’s journey through this movie.
Chetan: Yeah, they have. The Force lightning part was really awesome.
David: It was super cool.
Ben: There was a cute little allusion toward the end when she's burying the lightsabers and she goes back to visit Tatooine, which, by the way ending on the binary sunset, muwah, chef’s kiss.
Chetan: Fan service.
Ben: For sure. She gets on that little piece of scrap metal and she sleds down that thing, and the music is Rey’s theme from The Force Awakens, that was more fan service, but again, really well done.
Chetan: It was interesting, though. If you think about JJ's fan service versus Rian Johnson's fan service, JJ’s fan service is like, “Look, Rey’s on Tatooine, two suns,” whereas like Rian Johnson is like…
Ben: Are you getting it?
Chetan: Rian Johnson’s fan service was so subtle when Luke just disappears and the coat just floats down, and then you see the horizon, it's a very subtle reference towards some very heavy handed luck.
Ben: Rian Johnson thinks his audience is smarter than JJ Abrams, let’s just say, because we're holding The Last Jedi is like the thinking man Star Wars here. I just have to [...] on this one thing. The entire decision to go to this Vegas planet is the most, not only is it pretty boring, it's also completely pointless and actually serves no purpose in the movie and all that work gets undone.
And there's this weird physics question, which is like these two ships that are moving through space with no gravity somehow. When one of them runs out of fuel, they start slowing down and fall back within range where they can be shot down. This whole slow chase through space I think was really poorly thought out and a terrible use of 40 minutes. Before we put The Last Jedi on the pedestal, I've always had an issue with that.
Chetan: I've had a couple of issues with The Last Jedi which we can just throw out. One was the casino planet thing is fine, because they're trying to make a point that the rebellion is still alive, and the kids, and the ring, and all that stuff. Cool. If you rewatch The Last Jedi, it's really long. It's a really long. You almost wish they had replaced some of that with more time between Luke and Rey. If you watch the cutout scenes in the special edition or if you buy the movie on the extras, you'll see that Luke when he started to train Rey says, “I have three lessons for you,” and you actually only see two because they cut the third one out.
David: What's the third one?
Chetan: You see this far away settlement that's on fire and Rey gets her lightsaber and runs there because she thinks it’s a raid. She runs there and when she gets there, she realizes it’s just a party and Luke is like, “What were you going to do? Get your lightsaber and kill everybody? What were you going to do?” That served as the third lesson. It's a fun extra as part of The Last Jedi, but that felt like it should be part of the movie because he's like, “I have three lessons for you.”
David: It’s like, “I have something to tell you.”
Ben: Wouldn’t it be great if that was resolved?
Chetan: What's interesting is remember when they started this new trilogy, the three different movies had three different directors and then they replaced the third movie director.
Ben: Didn’t they offer eight and nine to Rian and then midway through eight told Rian he was out.
David: I don't know, I don’t remember that.
Chetan: I don't know, maybe, but if that's the case, I think one of the things that, if you reflect on it, it's like JJ Abrams set up these questions. Rian Johnson said, “Hey, guess what? Those questions don’t matter,” and I would have actually liked to have seen his finish to this.
Chetan: It's like, “Okay fine, these questions don’t matter, what questions do actually matter?”
David: I would pay money to watch another Episode IX, a different universe, Episode IX.
Chetan: Yeah, Rian Johnson's conclusion to this.
Ben: Some of the studio should fund Rian Johnson to make a movie that uses no Star Wars IP, but has subtle wink at who the characters are and just make a movie that's his Episode XI.
Chetan: Galaxy Quest did a subtle wink to Star Trek, like, “We should do the Galaxy Quest of the Star Wars universe.”
David: Oh my God, that would make so much money.
Chetan: It would, oh yeah.
David: Like Kickstarter.
Ben: There was a James Bond that was that way. There was a James Bond that was not 007 and was not…
David: Was that the original Casino Royale?
Ben: No, but there was an original Casino Royale or I don't know. It was during one of the transitions where it was one more Timothy Dalton movie before the next guy came in or something like that, but that has happened where they couldn't use the theme. That was one big thing where it's like a Bond movie but it doesn't feel like Bond, because it doesn’t have the theme.
Chetan: Yeah, like a Galaxy Quest version of the Star Wars universe that is Rian Johnson's episode, the third installment of the trilogy that is his own vision of what would be. That would be fun.
Ben: All right, what else do we like? Anything else? We can come back to some stuff here.
Chetan: I thought Poe’s a really good character, too.
Ben: Yeah. Oscar Isaac’s a great actor.
Chetan: He's a great actor. I thought they were going to go full total fan service by establishing an actual romantic relationship between Poe and Finn, but they didn’t.
Ben: I was like, “Oh no, they're just bros.”
Chetan: I thought that’s where it was going and we'll go over the JJ cut. All the criticisms of this episode are always like, “Well, that's not JJ's decision,” or, “JJ wanted to go a different direction with that.”
Ben: It's really weird. There was sub-1000 views on YouTube, but somebody filmed JJ and 10 of his creative lieutenants on the film went and talked about a bunch of stuff at a premiere. One of the things they actually talked about, someone asked them like, “So what was the big secret? What would Finn have to tell Rey?” and JJ's like, “Oh, that he was Force-sensitive.” Does that make a cannon if JJ is saying that on stage? First of all, that seems ridiculous to me. Was it really not I love you? It really was, “I am Force-sensitive”? That's the thing that you have to say when you're about to die?
I could not believe that when Solo was telling me about this thing and then I watched it for myself and I was like. “Either JJ's trolling us or…”
Chetan: I did like that Finn was Force-sensitive.
Ben: Yeah, that was cool.
Chetan: I like more people in the Star Wars universe being Force-sensitive. It's like…
Ben: Like the little boy who could grab the broom.
David: To move on to the dislike, that was the biggest thing that I disliked. I thought the coolest part of The Last Jedi was everyone can use the Force or maybe not everyone but so many more people than you thought. That's just kind of like there were little bits of, “Oh Finn is Force-sensitive.”
Chetan: No, you have to be a Skywalker or Palpatine.
David: Exactly. I just thought that that was really...
Ben: Sorry, this is dynastic.
David: That was because we knew so much for The Last Jedi, it was like, “Wow, what if this isn't just… We've been watching 7½ episodes where we think this is about special people. But it's like, “Wait a minute, it’s not about special people. It’s about everybody.”
Ben: [...] that, it’s about special people. This is Star Wars.
Chetan: Yeah, you have to be a Skywalker or a Palpatine, that’s it.
David: Or a pretty good [...].
Ben: Okay, and while we’re on the dislikes, I think it was the worst of The Matrix Revolutions meets the worst of Harry Potter.
Chetan: Yeah, Like Voldemort sucking your life. As soon as that happened, I was like, “Is this Harry Potter?”
Ben: Okay, so let me talk through The Matrix Revolutions thing first, lots of things are wrong with The Matrix Revolutions…
David: I don’t remember The Matrix Revolutions.
Ben: As you shouldn’t, much like The Star Wars prequels. The Matrix is cool. Agent Smith is this badass, he's this incredible enemy to fight. There's bullet time. For The Matrix Reloaded, what would be cooler? I don't know, how about 1000 Agent Smiths that we have to fight. You have The Matrix Revolutions, and they're like, “I know, we got to keep escalating. What if everybody in the whole goddamn world turned into Agent Smith, and then you had to fight all seven billion people in the world.” and like, “What do you think about that. That's an escalation right there.”
I wish you could get more creative than just like multiplying the boss by 1000 to make it more epic and it really bothered me. It's like, “Star Destroyers are pretty scary. You know what would be really, really scary? A whole lot of 1000 of them. You know what's pretty scary? The Death Star weapon. What if every Star Destroyer has the Death Star weapon?” You're like, “God damn it. Can you not think of anything more original?”
On top of all that, they were not powerful. It was like, “Oh well, now there are all these other ships show up at exactly the right time from nowhere altogether.” Suddenly, these puny little ships can go shoot at what is effectively a Death Star weapon, presumably made out of kyber crystal and they would just blow up like, “Oh, boom!” Then, when they blew up, the whole ship would blow up.
You're like, “This thing that was like times 10,000 that was supposed to be the big scary thing is really, really randomly weak.” Everything about that whole thing. Exactly how does Neo beat seven billion Agent Smiths? I don't know. He shouldn't, but he does.
In the same way we had 10,000 Star Destroyers get blown up. That really bothered me and to me that it's the crucial flaw in the saga, is when that's the best thing you can come up with to make it hyper climactic.
On top of all that, we had the Harry Potter thing, Palpatine is Voldemort. He's stealing life with his white wispy [...] out of people and then he's using that for himself. There's even elements where Rey can heal a snake. It’s like, “Oh, dude. Very Slytherinny.” They're on this planet where it goes even more fantasy than sci-fi.
David: Do you think that was intentional?
Chetan: The Harry Potter reference?
David: The snake-Voldemort thing?
Ben: No, but…
Chetan: Assume Harry Potter mythology into Star Wars?
Chetan: But you nailed. It's gets mythological. It goes from what was a space opera with metal and shiny armor and [...] and we're in this world of mysticism toward the end. This whole Exegol thing is this weird Harry Potter mystical thing. You have that element and The Matrix thing and it was just, “God, kill me.”
David: How did you really think?
Chetan: What I didn't like was because of this, “Oh, we're just going to make this an adventure ride.” They just do so much crazy stuff in the movie.
David: The cavalry charge? We talked about the cavalry charge. What?
Ben: Wait, what was that?
David: Is there air in space?
Chetan: Well no, they're still in Exegol.
Ben: Right, but they're pretty high up.
Chetan: They are pretty high up.
David: I mean maybe the atmosphere is extremely dense that high up on Exegol.
Ben: Wait, what are you talking about?
Chetan: You know when they rush in the final battle, Finn leads a cavalry on horses.
Ben: Oh yeah.
Chetan: On the surface of the Star Destroyer?
Ben: It’s really in the atmosphere.
Chetan: It’s like gravity functions exactly the same.
Ben: Dude, it’s a mythological planet. It went straight fantasy, so all these rules don't apply anymore on Exegol. They can't even find the planet, who knows where it is? It's in unknown regions, [...] star charts.
Chetan: The Voldemort scene, I was just like, “What is happening? As it's happening…
Ben: But they're not dead.
Ben: He sucks the life but then they're able to sort of…
Chetan: There's unnecessary things there. He’s like, “Oh, you're a Force dyad, okay. It’s mine.”
Ben: It's interesting, it’s like, “I'm not sucking your life force out, I'm sucking the dyad out of you, so you're no longer bridged in this special way where you can force time through miles and miles of space. I took the life of the dyad and now you just have your regular Force-sensitive life.”
Chetan: The cool part is, so you've got Kylo, who's now Ben and you've got Rey and they light up the lightsabers, and you're like, “Oh man.”
David: This [...] about to get real.
Chetan: Then it’s like, “Voldemort.” It's gone, line up with the two lightsabers and then it's over. They don't do anything and you're just like, “Oh man.”
Ben: You want to see them, like give me my moment of like, ‘Hell yeah, let’s get them.’”
David: Especially in a movie that is an adventure.
Chetan: We set this up, they're both ready to go, they fight their own little battles and then now they've unified, it's like, “Okay, let's go.” We've got this like two Jedi’s basically now that are going to fight Palpatine and then it was like, “No, they are Force-dyad. Voldemort, look my fingers are healed. You guys are [...].”
David: I forgot about the finger, really. That was weird.
Ben: His eyes coming back pretty badass, like the yellow from the...
Chetan: Then Ben wakes up and then the emperor is like, “I'm going to throw you like I was once thrown.” You're like, “Dude, what?”
Ben: Yeah, “The thing that didn't kill me somehow…”
Chetan: “…is going to kill you. I want to throw you down that hole.” Then you're like, “What's going on?” At least the Force lighting part I thought was cool, where it just turns it up and then it just got…
Ben: Okay, this is another times 1000 thing, though. Remember how badass it was in Return of the Jedi, when he's Force lightning Luke and then Vader is like, “No,” and he throws him down the hole. It's like, “Whoa, the Force lighting was really badass because it basically paralyzed Luke.” His Force lighting is so powerful that he can fire at the sky and it disables every rebel ship, and you're like, “Okay.”
Chetan: I think the Exegol scene is where all my problems with the movie are. I watched in the movie theatre, but when I finally watched it on my TV, I’m literally going to fast forward through the Voldemort scene, then throw Ben into a hole scene, because it's just like, “Okay, we don't need that.”
Chetan: Let's just get to Force lightning.
David: That brings up another point here, which is you can't have your cake and eat it, too, guys. They wanted the kiss scene, but they also wanted him to die, so somehow he brings her back to life. When Kylo saves Rey, they have this, I don't know, a minute, a minute-and-a-half where they're both alive and it seems like it's going to work out. They're kissing—it's shocking, I can't believe they made that decision—and then they took it all out of him and you're like, “Wait, wait, either he saved her and transferred his own life force or he didn't.”
Chetan: By the way, Matrix all over again, like Neo pulling the bullet out of Trinity in The Matrix Reloaded. It's like The Matrix plus Harry Potter again, and you're just like, “No.”
Ben: Are you guys fan of the Ben Solo and Rey Skywalker kiss?
David: I don't know if this is just me, but I actually was very surprised by it. I was thinking of them much more as siblings than a romantic type relationship.
Chetan: I was surprised by it. How about you Ben?
Ben: I was surprised. I'm not sure I was that mad about it. I actually liked that the two of them have this really deep and special relationship that really trivializes Finn when they're fighting. When they're on the Death Star off the coast of the cliffs of Moher, in the choppy ocean and they're having it out and Finn tries to run in, I actually think the writing and the direction there was great, where you're like, “No, Kylo and Rey are really in it here, emotionally with each other. You are a child in this, get out.”
When she throws him back to safety, it's like, “I want you to be safe, but you have no place in the intensity of the relationship that is happening here. What I have with you is friendship, what I have here is something much more tied to my soul. Whether it's in a romantic relationship or like an enemy that I'm going to kill, whatever. It's much more significant at a higher level.”
With the kiss thing, I was like, “Okay.” I think they felt like they had to do that, but I did think that they had some really intense deep relationship that I'm glad she didn't end up with Finn somehow at the end.
Chetan: I thought they could have had Finn do more with the Force sensitivity.
Chetan: He senses Kylo on the planet, because Poe is like, “What's wrong? What's Rey up to?” and he just senses that this is what's happening.
David: I bet they did and I bet that some of the stuff that was cut. It just feels [...].
Chetan: Towards the end, going back to what I did like. I really like the three friends hug at the end. It’s really sweet. It’s nice.
Ben: It was great.
Chetan: And Lando’s back, Lando has some time.
Ben: Does Lando have a daughter? Is that what that was?
Chetan: I don't know.
David: Well, I suppose we’ll leave it from the JJ cut, that was, but I don't know.
Ben: Yeah, Chetan. Tell us about this JJ cut, we've alluded to it here a few times.
Chetan: Yes, so it started up as a rumor and then one of the actors that was actually in the movie actually makes a reference to it. And now, it's all over the internet and if you just simply Google Star Wars JJ cut, you'll see it. There were a number of rumors of scenes that were cut that made the movie a lot shorter, one is that apparently there's a lot more content of Adam Driver in this turmoil of picking between good and evil. That flipped back to Ben Solo that apparently was cut more.
There is also a rumor that the Force ghost show up in Exegol of…
Ben: Instead of just being like audio voices?
Chetan: Apparently Force ghost actually show up including Anakin, Mace Windu, Obi-Wan, and a couple others, apparently that was cut. Apparently there's actual filmed scenes with Samuel L. Jackson and stuff. A rumor. That's the rumor about the JJ cut. All these rumors about what's in that director's cut that apparently extends the movie quite a bit longer.
We might see in Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, when those movies were released for sale in the extras, they put in extra scenes that were unfinished that you could go watch. If they did tape these scenes or film these scenes, I hope to have them in the extras when the movie actually comes out.
Ben: For sure.
David: What do you guys think? Maybe this is [...]. What do you think Disney does with Star Wars next?
Ben: The thing they’ve announce they're doing is they're done with trilogies and they're done with the story of the Skywalkers. What they didn't say was that they were done with the story of the Palpatines. We already know they converted one movie that was going to be the Obi-Wan movie into Disney Plus TV show, so they're going to do that. I don’t know if they're going to call an Episode X, XI, XII. There's going to be some (I think) Palpatine backstory.
Chetan: If you think about it, the Star Wars IP has withstood the test of time. If you think about The New Hope was over 40 years ago, and we're talking about this movie generally…
David: It’s almost 50 years ago.
Chetan: Yeah, generating $1 billion of box office revenue, it's just amazing that this IP has that much longevity. We keep alluding to The Mandalorian. I feel like it was a huge essential component of Disney Plus doing what they've done. If you just look at the numbers on Disney Plus, they're remarkable. The amount of original content you can produce for Disney Plus, think about it. What if they don't release the JJ cut as something you can buy? You can only get on Disney Plus.
David: Yeah. There's Disney Plus now.
Chetan: Yeah, you only can get it out of Disney Plus.
Ben: It looks awful, but they're going to release eight more Marvel series. Every one of these minor characters around the series. I hope it's not like that.
Chetan: Yeah. There's just so much IP. Star Wars survived the prequels to generate three additional multibillion dollar box office hits. You create a sense of ownership amongst multiple generations now. Our generation got access to Star Wars through our parents, or through the prequels.
David: Well, I remember starting…
Ben: Well, the special editions.
David: Yeah, the special editions. I've seen Star Wars in a home video, before the special editions in the movie theater. That was a big moment for me growing up.
Chetan: Right. We got to experience nostalgia with this series that I think the previous generation got to experience a little bit with the prequels. This nostalgia fan service ticket is the one that you can keep.
David: A collection.
Chetan: Yeah. That is accessible to you and if they visit the Skywalker arc again, who's going to complain? If they do another three movies…
Ben: Yeah, that's the thing I like. I totally would not be mad if we stayed in scope here. You actually raise this amazing point. I'm 30 years old and in this movie, when they were doing fan service, I had these emotional moments of nostalgia around a movie that came out in 1977 and somehow, they've pulled that off through the special editions, through whatever else. That was 12 years before I was born and the binary suns are setting and I'm like, “Oh my God.”
Chetan: Yeah, exactly. A movie from 1977 creates nostalgia for people that weren’t born in 1977.
Ben: The whole bar mitzvah in between when that came out.
Chetan: You have to go back and really credit George Lucas for this. The IP creation of the Star Wars universe is probably one of the biggest media IP assets ever created.
David: I think as a singular story piece of work the Star Wars IPS, the original trilogy is one of, if not the best without mythological creation of the modern era.
Chetan: Yeah. Those that aren't interested in Star Wars will always tell you, there's better Sci-Fi than Star Wars. There’s better mythology than Star Wars, there's better sword fights than Star Wars. What's unique is that it ties it all together. It has become such a central part of American culture. It is this substrate that creates common ground between generations. It's so easily identifiable no matter where you grew up.
Ben: It’s the energy that binds the universe together.
Chetan: Yeah and you’ve got these cheesy things that are so good. To the first viewing of Star Wars, I wore a millennium falcon t-shirt. This was literally IP. Ben was saying, IP that was created in 1977, but in 2019, somebody that wasn't born when it was first released, is wearing a t-shirt from that IP. The longevity of this is what's really, really impressive. I think because it's space far, far away, a long, long time ago, timelines and modernization, you can just play with it all you want.
Ben: Yeah, it is true. They'd get to drift in and out of fantasy. There’s these lines to jump out of me now in The New Hope when I rewatched it where they say, they refer to Obi-Wan Kenobi as that crazy old wizard who lives out there. What? They do tell this interesting line between like, it's not the best nuts and bolts Sci-Fi. It’s not the best nuts and bolts samurai sword fighting, but it is the best soup anybody has ever made.
David: Yeah. The next question is that I think we have to ask given Disney, given everything, how do we compare that with Marvel and the state of now that the new Disney trilogy has wrapped up, The Mandalorians out there. We have a good picture of what Disney is doing, and we have a great picture of what they're doing with Marvel. They're so different in so many ways. I feel like Marvel gets completely reinvented with each generation. There's not really a link to the past.
Ben: Marvel really wasn't successful before. If you think about buying Star Wars, it’s like, “Whoa,” that's a major cultural icon that you are: (a) on the risk of reappropriating, or (b) could make a zillion dollars off of because look how many people care about it. Marvel, when they bought it, it was that's like that old set of comics and a lot of people have made movies already based on these comics.
David: Remember, in the Disney Plus episode, it was Brian Roberts [...], “You bought Marvel? You paid how much for a comic book company?”
Ben: Right, $4 billion. Star Wars and Marvel were both around $4 billion and Pixar was $7 billion.
Chetan: Lucasfilm was $4.05 billion.
David: I believe Marvel was…
Ben: The MCU I think is much better executed than the more recent trilogy of Star Wars. No doubt in my mind. For Jon Favreau and honestly to tie it all together in a really compelling way, somehow they whiffed on that with Star Wars which hopefully actually, they're giving Star Wars to Favreau now, now that he's the producer of The Mandalorian. I'm hoping that he's going to do the same thing, but I'm honestly worried about the post-MCU feature of Marvel after watching this Disney Plus show that's like, “Here's all the new Disney Plus Marvel shows that are coming out,” and you're like, “Oh, now we’re watching that.” I'm very excited for all the future Star Wars stuff despite the fact that they bungle the execution of the trilogy.
Chetan: The Marvel Studios has a president and Star Wars…
Ben: Is it Kevin Feige?
Chetan: Yeah. Kathleen Kennedy is the president of Lucasfilm inside of Disney. He became president Marvel studios in 1977. It was largely credited with Iron Man which is the first…
David: That was what we touched with so much in our episodes. We talked about a lot of the Tesla episode. Elon Musk was Robert Downey Jr.’s inspiration for Iron Man.
Chetan: If you look at Iron Man and what they did with Marvel Studios, basically they got a fresh start. There was no expectation. It was just like…
David: And we've covered this. That business decision, creating Marvel Studios within Marvel, small independent public company, headquartered in New York, reclusive CEO, making that decision to we're going to build a studio? Nobody built studios at that point in time. That was one of the very, very best businesses in the 20th century.
Chetan: They get to play a lot with that cinematic universe. What's interesting now is that under the Disney umbrella, they brought back the X-Men back into the fold. Spider Man sits in this weird…
David: Yeah, the Fox [...].
Ben: Sort of.
Chetan: It's not in the MCU but Disney owns it now.
Ben: That's right. I was like, “No, it's still with 20th Century Fox.” That's right, there's a lot of potential there, because they’ve had this weird stuff with these tertiary X-Men characters coming into Marvel.
Chetan: Then there's this understanding between Sony and now Disney with Spiderman. I just feel like the Marvel Cinematic Universe gets to reinvent itself and there's not this whole mythology of what is a Jedi? They just keep changing the rules like, “Oh Thor? This is Thor now.” There's less expectations with Marvel.
David: Yeah, there's a lot less weight. That's what I was getting with. You don't have to carry the weight of those links. Generation to generation, you can reinvent.
Chetan: Yeah. What will be really interesting is if Disney tries that playbook with Star Wars. At some point you basically say, “We're just going to create new stuff.”
David: I don’t remember if the Solo movie was a toe dipped in the water on that.
Chetan: It might have been.
Ben: I'm still a fan. I know a lot of people hate it. One of our most prominent and active listeners who's in the Slack [...] on and is a very critical of me and says that I have no taste in anything in my life because I like Solo, but I like as much as Rogue One which I think…
David: Rogue One was legitimately a great movie.
Ben: Yeah, that was the best Star Wars movie of the five that Disney's done.
David: You think that in The Force Awakens?
Ben: Yeah. The battle scene on that planet was so awesome.
Chetan: And they brought Darth Vader back. That was as much fan service as it gets.
Ben: Dude, it was an amazing movie already and then it’s like, “We’re going to show you the exact moments before a New Hope and how badass Darth Vader is, right before it bursts the ship.”
Chetan: That is the only time we get full Darth Vader.
Ben: You're right, Chetan. That's the only time where he almost flies. Doesn’t he? He’s throwing people at the ceiling, breaking their back by force, lifting them against the ceiling. He's actively sword fighting in an athletic way. Unlike all these other…
David: That was bad ass.
Chetan: That was really good. The thing about Solo is they bring Darth Maul back which was weird. He got cut in half. What happened?
Ben: Yeah, he has spider legs now.
Chetan: Yeah. It's like, “What? Okay.”
David: Wasn’t there a rumor that Snoke was Darth Maul?
Ben: That would have been a good rumor.
Chetan: That would have been a good rumor, but now, Snoke doesn’t matter because he was created in a tube.
David: That was one of my biggest disappointments.
Chetan: Snoke didn’t matter.
David: “That’s the best you can come up with?”
Chetan: Yeah. And I think in Force Awakens, actually he did a really good job. Snoke was a good character.
David: Yeah. He was all big, we didn’t know his actual size, there was the whole Wizard of Oz.
Ben: I can sense where we’re heading here so I want to get a few more loves and didn't likes before we transition. Babu Frik is an amazing character that I really wanted more of. The line when C-3PO looks over and goes, “Babu Frik, he's one of my oldest friends,” I just died. That was so good.
David: C-3PO does a really good job in that. C-3PO is a good character.
Ben: I think it was John Gruber that Daring Fireball writer on Twitter he said, “This is C-3PO’s best movie since Empire.”
Chetan: Yeah, for sure. He was really, really good.
Ben: Is it still Anthony Daniels?
Ben: It's amazing. I love that these guys have this longevity. Who's Palpatine? The actor that plays Palpatine, it's been the same guy since the original, since 1983. He looks like the Emperor does in 1983 and then he looks like Palpatine does in the prequel. His makeup is amazing.
Chetan: Ian McDiarmid.
Ben: Ian McDiarmid, yeah. It's really cool to see some of these people play the same character over all these years. Another thing I wanted to call out Poe Dameron’s look at the end with his lady friend, so good. It’s like movie making, body language acting.
Chetan: Han Solo reference all over again.
Ben: Yeah. Very much so. The thing I didn't like, what a waste of the Knights of Ren.
Ben: Hopefully that's in the JJ cut, but we have no explanation of the backstory, we have no explanation of (I guess) they're not Force-sensitive, but what other Sith assembles this random band of knights?
Chetan: That do nothing.
Ben: Blending this random mythology and then he takes them out like nothing at the end. It wrecks them.
David: It's too bad the Disney's video game strategy is mostly outsourced now instead of in-sourced, and there have been some good ones, but Knights of Ren would make an awesome video game. I would play that video game to get the backstory and just still be badasses in all the various Knights of Ren.
Chetan: He is doing Star Wars now so I'll be curious to see what they’ll do, if they do anything with Knights of Ren. But, yeah you're right. The most hyped Knights of Ren got (I felt) was in the trailer for The Force Awakens where you see them in the rain and you are like, "Whoa, this guy has a crew he's rolling with." Then, you go to The Force Awakens and you just see it in that Rey vision and you are like, "Okay, okay. We are cool. We are going to get this in The Last Jedi." And in The Last Jedi you don't see them, then you get all the way to The Rise of Skywalker, they are just surveying in the desert, they are searching on the other planet, and then they are just gone.
Ben: Honestly, the best thing about them was that they got to be the prop in the fight scene at the end, particularly when Ben Solo gets the lightsaber. He's fighting them and then he takes a break and he leans over with the lightsaber behind his back, up his spine. He gets to show off this basically a new character because he's not playing Kylo Ren anymore. It shows Adam Driver's depth that he plays a completely different role where it's more like Han Solo. He's confident, he's cocky, but he doesn't know how to use a lightsaber. He feels like he's fearing all of this out for the first time.
First of all, he had no lines in the last 60 minutes of the movie which I found unbelievable when I learned that. His last line is I think when he was talking to his dad and he says, "Dad," and Han Solo says, "I know." Dad is his other line other than, "Ow," when he was falling down that hole, which I think that was a screw up. They should totally made his last line be dad. The last 60 minutes of the movie where everyone is crediting him with being this incredible actor, like no lines. Really cool.
David: That's awesome. Really cool. I've been thinking about this. Is he genuinely a different person when he comes back to them? Because there's the redemption arc but there's like dude you really killed billions of people? Like billions of people. Do you really get to be redeemed for that?
Ben: Yeah, he gets to be a Jedi in Heaven. He gets to be a Force ghost? Really?
David: He killed planets, man.
Chetan: Look, Anakin gets to be a Force ghost. If Anakin gets to be a Force ghost.
Ben: They established the rules on the road.
Chetan: It's like Anakin gets to be a Force ghost.
Ben: Good to know.
Chetan: But I think the one thing that is interesting is that I do think that this movie is rewatchable. I think all three movies in this trilogy are really, really rewatchable because there will be scenes you won't like and you'll just get used to going through them. Everytime I watch the last Jedi, the horses escaping.
Ben: You do everything you can to get to the throne room.
Chetan: Yeah and you are just like, "Okay, [...] passes, " The Last Jedi has some really good spots in it and then obviously in The Force Awakens, there's some really fun scenes. Like when they are on that planet and Han offers Rey a job, it's a really fun scene. Then Kylo shows up on that planet and the whole fight. If you remember when you’re watching The Force Awakens and the X-wing shows up on that planet and you are like, goosebumps. You are like, "Oh man," and the formation and they are skimming off the water.
Ben: It's Star Wars porn.
Chetan: Talk about fan service.
Ben: It's the first time the Millenium Falcon flies in an atmosphere. We are seeing it fly. It was in the trailer next to or through a crashed Star Destroyer. You are like, "Oh my God, the Millenium Falcon can fly out of space? Around in planets?"
Chetan: Yeah, and then Finn handles the lightsaber. I think the final time he touches the lightsaber because he doesn't touch it and he's not doing any lightsaber work.
Ben: I didn't see that. I didn't notice that.
Chetan: Finn handles the lightsaber and holds his own for a little bit with Kylo.
David: I didn't think the Force-sensitive then, I don't remember if I talked about it, but yeah that was set up.
Ben: There was also a little bit of power leveling issue there where Kylo and Rey are a power unseen in the Force in generations and he's getting beat by Finn, an untrained Force-sensitive stormtrooper.
Chetan: Remember he shot. That's the justification.
Ben: [...] in the chest.
Chetan: JJ does this thing where he’s Kylo is bleeding and he has to punch himself to like…
Ben: What is that?
Chetan: Yeah. It's like “Oh, I’m healed.”
Ben: Does that work?
Chetan: I don't know. He's just hyping himself up. There are some loops that are closed in this trilogy, like when Rey is holding that lightsaber with Kylo and then the Force actually talks to her almost and she feels it and fights back. I think that all three movies are really rewatchable. If you guys have not tried to rewatch the prequels, I really encourage you.
Ben: I watched every movie up until before this one.
David: Oh, you did the whole series.
Chetan: Did you do it I, II, III, IV, V, VI? Did you do the prequels first?
Ben: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, Solo, VIII, Rogue One, and then this.
David: You did do Rogue One before IV?
Ben: No, I messed up.
David: Yeah, next time.
Ben: Honestly it is like you feel like I am eating my vegetables watching the prequels. I'm doing this for completeness.
Chetan: It's tough especially like Episode II, it is tough.
Ben: Two major beefs with the whole prequels, but the whole Episode II in particular is I think the worst one. One is there is no subtext ever in dialogue. Everyone just says what they are feeling. It's like the guy who wrote has never written any fiction before. It's really strange. Didn't you write Star Wars? He's like, “From my point of view, the Jedi are evil,” and you are like, “Goddamit, can't you find a better way to express that through amazing narrative?” That really bothered me.
The second one was it's like George Lucas has never interacted with a female before. The dialogue between Anakin and Padmé is like nothing about any of that screams wooing. You watch it and you are like, “Where's the part where she could have credibly fallen in love with him?” Then it just arrives at this moment where she is like, “But I love you so much,” and you are like, “What? How?” [...] us knowing that this where it's going. If this was any other movie, in what world will you be like, “Oh, yeah the things you said to each other definitely are like a romance.” It makes me infuriated to watch it. That is the worst part of watching the prequels for me.
Chetan: It is really tough and you felt lightsabers were cool. How about two lightsabers? How about a droid Sith thing that has four lightsabers?
Ben: It's got six.
Chetan: And it's like, “Uh.”
Ben: You are right it's four and he coughs.
Chetan: Yeah. It's hard, but that would just not be that fun. Maybe we should do Episode IV, V, VI, and Rogue One.
David: Rogue One. I'd be down for a Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Acquired Science Theater 3000 of Rogue One.
Ben: That's actually fun. You time-synced it and start them at the same time. We should totally do that.
All right, I have one closing take on before we go to whatever our next sections are. The best take that I saw was this movie, evident by the pacing issues and a lot of rewrites and retcons that are happening, is basically JJ doing his own VIII and IX combined in the IX. Where he's saying, “I want two movies to do all of this, but I just get one so here's what I am doing.”
Chetan: Yeah, the Palpatine reveal is big. It's like Rey is a Palpatine. If there was a spot to reveal that, it's when she is in the planet and in the dark zone looking at that mirror. It's like, “That's the spot!”
Ben: You mean looking into the Mirror of Erised like in the Chamber of Secrets?
Chetan: That is where you are supposed to see your parents like Harry sees his parents.
David: I think we've uncovered the whole inspiration for [...].
Chetan: It's Harry Potter. Rey Slytherin, maybe.
Ben: You've just uncovered even more. Rey is not Slytherin in the same way that Harry wasn't slytherin. Harry just had a bond with the worst slytherin of all time, in the same way that Rey has the dyad with the most powerful Sith of all time.
David: You heard it here first.
Chetan: Exactly. That's when the reveal was supposed to happen. It was like, “Okay, tell us that she is a Palpatine.”
Ben: Wasn't it odd? When she was down there and she's looking into the mirror, it's a long scene where it's like, “Chug, chug, chug, no, no, no,” and you were like, “What's going on here?” Only to show it's her own reflection. It's a very Rian Johnson way to be like you thought you were going to get an answer here but all she's showing is she can only rely on herself.
Chetan: And then they go back and they have the amazing snow fight, then Adam Driver has his lines, “Your parents, they are nobody. You are nobody.”
David: They're [...].
Chetan: Exactly. Soldier for [...].
David: You have the voice spot on there.
Chetan: In the context of all three movies, you are just like, “Ugh, what a missed opportunity.” If that's where you are going, why didn't somebody write this down at the beginning of the trilogy? It was like, “Hey everybody, here are the rules you have to follow. Rey is a Palpatine,” She has Force lightning.
Ben: There's a lot of money writing on this.
Chetan: Like here are the biography to the characters. It's like we couldn't mess with Harry Potter halfway through and we are like, “Yeah.”
David: I should look this up before. Lawrence Kasdan co-wrote Force Awakens. Was he involved in VIII and IX?
Chetan: No, he was not involved in IX.
David: See? That's it. He's the magic. He is such a big part of the Star Wars magic.
Ben: He was involved in IV, V, and VI, right?
Chetan: He was (I believe) most well-known for Empire.
Ben: I think Empire is my favorite Star Wars movie.
Chetan: It's not questionable. Yes, Greenbay.
Ben: Did you guys know how they filmed the “I am your father” scene?
Ben: Do you guys know the lore behind this? The scripts that were distributed to all of the actors
David: Confirmed, by the way, cast in co-writer on Force Awakens. Not involved in VIII and IX.
Chetan: He's in Return of the Jedi. He's in The Empire Strikes Back, obviously.
Ben: Good to know.
David: Sorry, the secret is to keep the...
Ben: Yeah, none of the crew knew what the line was. Gerge Lucas said, “Yeah, the dramatic reveal is Luke, I killed your father,” and that's what it said in the script. It's not necessarily reveal because I think we knew that or that is what we were told to that point. Then five minutes before filming, George goes and tells David Prowse and Mark Hamill actually [...]. And that they were obsessed with the secret not getting out.
Chetan: That's so good. The scream where Luke was yelling, “No.” He didn't have time to process that.
Ben: It was authentic. He was actually reacting to George telling him.
Chetan: Yeah, we didn't have that Empire moment in this trilogy. If New Hope and Force Awakens are the parallel, we didn't have the Empire, Last Jedi reveal.
David: What I thought in Last Jedi was going to be, they could have done this, but for a moment when I was first watching in theaters, in the throne room scene, I thought that Kylo and Rey were going to do it. They were going to throw away the past and be like, "No more Jedi. No more Sith. This is the future." Of course they didn't. I got chills at that moment. I'm like this is the Empire moment.
Ben: And he's really convincing like when he delivers the line, "Let the past die." He looks at her and held out his hand. It's really like, "Oh, I want to do it."
Okay, what sections do we want to do? I think it would be fun to do grading for sure. There's a way we can do what could have happened otherwise but I think we've done a zillion other.
Chetan: Yeah, let's do grading and it looks like we have an hour and a half content which you will probably cut down anyway so it's probably good.
David: Let’s just do it.
Chetan: Ben loves [...].
David: We got another hour-and-a-half.
Chetan: Ben is like, "We are keeping my [...]."
Ben: This is actually a good chemistry because David is too nice to rip on me.
David: It's true.
Chetan: This is what happens when you have a venture partner on the show.
David: A venture partner in the [...].
Chetan: Go ahead, Ben.
Ben: So we are on grading.
Chetan: You know what part of grading is like. Relative to other Star Wars, of just the trilogy, of the nine, where would you place Rise of Skywalker?
David: Oh, I like that.
Chetan: Stack rank.
Ben: My stack rank?
Chetan: Give us your full list.
Ben: I'm Empire, Star Wars, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens, Rise of Skywalker, The Last Jedi, this is a little bit of a curved ball but, The Revenge of the Sith, The Phantom Menace, and Attack of the Clones.
Chetan: I would put it sixth. I would say Empire, Star Wars/New Hope, and this is a bit controversial opinion (I think), but I really liked The Force Awakens.
David: I was going to do the same thing.
Chetan: Force Awakens and Return of the Jedi is a toss up.
Ben: It's pretty good.
Chetan: And I do think Return of the Jedi with all of the special editions and the added scenes, it get a little goofy.
David: I think Return of the Jedi is where the crazy George Lucas started to show through and then the prequels are just like [...].
Chetan: I'll take Force Awakens third. I'd put Return of the Jedi fourth. Last Jedi, five. Rise of Skywalker, six. Then Phantom Menace, Revenge of the Sith, and then Attack of the Clones.
David: I'm going to do the same order as you except for reverse of Revenge of the Sith and Phantom Menace. I put Phantom Menace number eight, but I'm with you. For me Force Awakens ranks above Return of the Jedi and Last Jedi above Skywalker.
Chetan: I think we often forget how much time we spent on Ewoks in Return of the Jedi.
Ben: Which by the way are never spoken. They never say Ewok.
Chetan: And it's just like the amount of time we spent on that is great, but then you just realize that, is this a kid movie? Are we doing a kid’s movie now?
David: Which George Lucas will tell you, "Yeah, they all dig kids movies."
Ben: It is true. The power dynamic is all messed up again. The thing that really bothers me in mythical universes is when they don't keep power levels consistent. You have this imperial, they are not the ATATs or ATSTs, but they are this imperial walkers that are able to be taken down by Ewoks. Like Really?
David: [...] The Mandalorian.
Ben: Mandalorian, yeah. You are like, "I'm sorry what?" Those little bears? They threw some rocks and they fell over. It bothers me.
Chetan: In Empire, everybody just gets crushed. The Empire is so powerful and Han Solo, it's brutal.
Ben: That scene where the doors open and Vader is sitting there at the Thanksgiving dinner table waiting for you.
Chetan: It's brutal. You take a loss after loss after loss and then you get into Return of the Jedi and you are like, “Why are they flipping so easily? We just got crushed.” It's like, “What?” It’s like, “We can't win no matter what,” and then in the other one it’s like, “We can't not win.”
David: It's like the Empire [...].
Ben: Like Harrison Ford's line [...].
Chetan: It's like all of a sudden, we're just going to win every shot here.
Ben: Can I also say Boba Fett dies a very, very...
Chetan: Yeah, he just flies off.
Ben: Yeah, it's a terrible death. Then he's gone in the star-like pit, dead, and you are like, “I'm sorry. He's the best bounty hunter to ever live and he's a Mandalorian. He's a storied warrior and that's how it ends?” Again, the power leveling, you’re like. “Ugh. Okay, I guess that's how he dies.”
David: I got one more question on grading. Where would you place Rogue One? If you had to insert Rogue One into the [...] episodes in your ranking.
Chetan: Probably above Force Awakens. I'd probably put it
David: Number three?
Ben: I think it's above Return of the Jedi for me so it's also number three.
Chetan: How about you?
David: I'm number four. The Force Awakens above Rogue One.
Ben: By the way, you guys know The Empire Strikes Back being the favorite is not necessarily a widely held belief. It's usually three, with being A New Hope then Return of the Jedi, and the reason is because it really doesn't end. The way it ends is this anti-climactic depressing, there's no classic heroes journey of the rise, fight, win, the comedown. It's a perfect transition movie very similar to Last Jedi’s credit. They ended it in a very similar way where it's like, “Is there any hope?”
Chetan: That's true.
Ben: But we see them regrouped on the side of the rebel carrier ship at the end of the Empire Strikes back just going off into space and then we get to credits. It's pretty rough.
David: That's true. We've only experienced all of these but Empire included with the, “Oh, time to cue up Return of the Jedi.”
Ben: I can't imagine waiting two years after that.
Chetan: We waited two years after The Last Jedi.
Ben: It's a fair point. We know exactly how it feels.
Chetan: Yeah, exactly. What's interesting is if you go back to some of the interviews that the original cast members did around the release of the original Star Wars: A New Hope, I just don't think they knew how big of a deal this was going to be. I don't think that anyone realized at that time that you are creating a Star Wars movie universe. It was going to extend decades.
Ben: We can use whatever stupid investor comment we want here whether it's contrarian, whether it's nonconcensus, or whether it's a narrative violation, but sci-fi was a genre for serials and goofy Star Trek-like things, like Flash Gordon. You didn't have big budget blockbuster sci fis. That’s not what it was for and coupled with that, you didn't have big classical scores like that arrow was dead. And here we are with John Williams, London Symphony Orchestra composed. The whole thing is so counter to what movies were at that time. Of course, there's no indicators to you that this will be a big blow up.
Chetan: Yeah, it's pretty amazing how that worked out. If you just look at this universe as it’s set up today, look at what Disney is doing with The Mandalorian. Of course we are not done with the content because they bought Lucasfilm for $4.1 billion. When we talk about the movies, we are talking about ticket sales. It's revenue, not profit. We are not sure if they are back to 1X just yet.
Ben: These movies cost $200–$300 million to make each.
Chetan: Yeah, and then marketing budget.
David: But there's the Disney flywheel.
Chetan: Yeah, and the theme parks.
David: Remember BB-8 sales of toys. What was that company, Sphero, that did the—
Ben: Sphero the textile Disney accelerator. I still can't get over the fact that toys and theme parks make 2X what the movies do. For every $1 that you get out of the content this way, you get $2 out in theme parks.
Chetan: I think if you are Disney and you paid $4 billion for an IP portfolio, you have a return threshold you are expecting. I'm sure there's an M&A memo.
David: For Disney? Of course, Strap planning. Kevin Mayer.
Chetan: Somebody wrote that memo that did an expected return matrix. I'd love to see that leaked at some point. I love to see that memo, but there is an expected return. They have a plan.
Ben: I think Star Wars is the worst of the three though. If you look at Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel. I think Marvel might be the best.
David: Marvel is the best by far. I don't think it's even close.
Ben: Lucasfilm, how much movie operating profit do you think they make? Or gross profit do you think they make on each one of these? If they grossed on averaged $1.5 billion.
David: So on average $1.5 billion, let's assume $300 million production. Double that for marketing so you are probably looking at $800–$900 million.
Ben: I'm looking at half a billion dollars.
David: Somewhere between half a billion and a billion dollars in gross profit.
Ben: Let's call it $750 million per film. Now there’s three films and the other two did a little bit smaller, so call the other two combined, you've got about a billion of gross profit, maybe about half a billion because I think they may have gotten close to a loss on Solo.
Chetan: Yeah, Solo [...].
Ben: They got to about $2.75 billion.
David: You got half a turn on a $4.1 billion purchase price. You got half of that returned on the gross profits from box office.
Ben: They got me to go to Disneyland to go see Galaxy's Edge.
Chetan: I haven't been yet.
Ben: I'm sure there's a lot of other people.
Chetan: Yeah, I have to go. Have you been to Galaxy's Edge?
David: No, I need to plan out that February trip.
Ben: I'll go with you. I want to go back.
David: There we go. That is ROIC for Disney right there.
Ben: Honestly, I thought they’re about break-even. When we are talking through this, $2 billion from movies and another $2 billion from merch and theme parks. I bet somewhere in the four to six months in the future and someone only Disney knows this, but somewhere in this 12 month time window, I bet they'll exactly break even on the purchase.
David: Is that good? Eight years for return of capital.
David: Eight years for return of capital, but Disney+ you've got the assets now. That's a big driver, we are talking about The Mandalorian is the driver of Disney+.
Chetan: If you are Disney, you are thinking about aggregating IP, and the Star Wars deal is up, you have to go get it.
Ben: That's true in the same way WhatsApp have to be purchased by Facebook for whatever price.
Chetan: If you are in an IP aggregation, if you think the future is an IP aggregation.
David: And you think it's a zero sum game essentially, where as we talked about in the Disney+ episode, you can't let any of the other major media companies get enough critical mass.
Chetan: How much would Apple or Netflix pay for Star Wars if it was an independent organization today.
David: Would Netflix have been a bidder today? Absolutely.
Chetan: Of course. If you look at who is on the streaming wars today, of course you would go by that IP portfolio.
Ben: Has Netflix bought any IP? I guess Amazon bought The Expanse, but who else have bought IP?
David: But there haven't been an IP on the scale of the trilogy of Disney acquisitions. And Disney lucked at that moment of time because Netflix wasn't big enough that they could bid for them.
Ben: Universal and Harry Potter is the only other. But they haven't been successful in creating any other Harry Potter spin offs.
Chetan: No. Harry Potter doesn't look like it'll extend like Star Wars. If you are Disney you had to make the purchase. Again, going back to the Disney investment memo, I'd be really curious how quickly they thought they'd get to 1X. Then how quickly they thought...
Ben: When will they hit 2X is the interesting question.
Chetan: That is.
Ben: [...] their cost now. How do they generate another $4 billion of profit?
Chetan: It has to be. How could you do this without movies? I don't know. You have to do movies, right?
David: Although the economics of Disney+ are so good, not as good as the ESPN [...] that's the best business model in the media business ever, but how many incremental Disney+ subscription is Star Wars going to drive and what's your average lifetime.
Ben: They drove all of them that weren't Verizon, so far.
Chetan: Do you think it's all Mandalorian?
Ben: I think it's not true. A lot of people signed up to get access to the movies, but I feel the running joke on Disney right now is it's cool that I get access to all the Disney movies with my $6.99 purchase of The Mandalorian a month.
Chetan: And then The Mandalorian, if you just look at how you'd get to another $4 billion. Incremental subscribers of Disney+, you are generating real big shows then on Disney+ around this IP.
David: The beauty of the subscription business model, that it is a different economics than anything else is you leverage fixed cost across the subscriber base, so if you are playing the subscriber base game, you think about cash flow returns on individual properties, but you are really thinking about how can I dump as much fixed cost as possible into this?
Chetan: Who knows, maybe you don't need another movie. Maybe you can just do shows.
Ben: I'll throw this out there. You generate $4.2 billion from Disney+ in one year in revenue with 50 million subscribers.
Cheta: So you need additional 50 million? Okay.
Ben: I think they'll be at 50 million subscribers in about a year or two, three maybe.
David: And that's recurring annual revenue. Not [...]
Ben: And how much of that is attributed to Star Wars.
David: But that is the beauty of subscription economics of recurring annual revenue, fully incremental cash flow across a fixed [...].
Chetan: I promise you, somebody in Disney has done this analysis.
Ben: Yeah, just one guy on the corner who is curious.
Chetan: It's the third time Bob's at a white board in 25 years. I think we are going to see a lot more of stuff. We have to. If you put this much fixed cost in this, it's just a matter of time before they keep trying to go to it.
David: On that note, we wrap it up.
Ben: Chetan, thank you so much.
Chetan: Thank you for having me. Both of you. This is fun.
Ben: I appreciate you. We will get to your venture partner paperwork this afternoon.
Chetan: Thank you. Do I get a jacket, t-shirt?
Ben: So far you get a t-shirt. You be satisfied with that for the time being.
Chetan: Thank you. My pleasure. Looking forward to doing this again. Next time we'll get back to enterprise software.
David: Return of the Enterprise.
Chetan: Yeah, Return of the Enterprise.
David: All right, thanks everyone.
Ben: Thank you LPs. See you later.
Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.
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