Carrie Fisher’s Brand Legacy

On December 27, 2016, Carrie Fisher, best known for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars movies, passed away from complications after suffering a heart attack. Fisher was among the original cast members in Star Wars, which debuted in 1977. Fisher starred in Star Wars episodes 4-6; however, the storyline for episodes 1-3 did not include Fisher’s character or other famous original cast members including most notably Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill. However, in 2015, episode 7, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, brought back fans’ beloved characters, resulting in the highest-grossing Star Wars movie to date.

Although Fisher was best known for her role as Princess Leia, she also starred in numerous movies including The Blues Brothers, Scream 3, and When Harry Met Sally. In addition to her film career, she also appeared in a host of television shows including Laverne & Shirley, 30 Rock, Sex in the City, The Big Bang Theory, and others. But acting wasn’t her only talent. She proved to be a skilled writer, authoring nonfiction and fiction books, as well as screenplays.

Fisher’s talent as an author and writer kept her in the public eye. However, her publicity was also often riddled with turmoil in association with her addictions, depression, and bipolar disorder. Rather than hide or deny these issues, Fisher spoke frankly and publicly about them, becoming a devout mental health advocate. Although she may have suffered from mental health disorders, Fisher’s natural humor and wit helped her deal with them and show others they could too. In fact, Fisher’s family helped her get the last laugh, placing Fisher’s ashes in a Prozac pill-shaped urn.

At the time of her death, Fisher’s net worth was $25 million. As with the death of any celebrity, her value is likely to increase in the short term as fans demand memorabilia, her movies, and her books. In fact, just a few days after Fisher’s death, Star Wars merchandise sales associated with Carrie Fisher increased three times the amount from the week before. In addition, demand for her books skyrocketed, with the publisher anticipating ongoing demand by reprinting tens of thousands more of her books.

While celebrity value often fades after a death, Fisher’s estate may likely continue to maintain significant value for the foreseeable future, especially with the Star Wars hype. Episode 7, Star Wars: The Force Awakens reached record sales of over $2 billion in anticipation of showcasing the original Star Wars cast, in which Fisher played a significant role. This movie fueled the interest in long-time Star Wars fans from the late 70s, as well as younger crowds. It is likely that the release of episode 8 set for later this year will fare well as many fans will be willing to pay to see Fisher’s last performance. In the meantime, they will continue to buy merchandise as there is nothing like an original cast member for avid Star Wars fans. Even if Disney decides to exclude Fisher’s role in episode 9, the hype will still keep fans coming back to the original characters. Princess Leia will always be one of the main characters that fans associate with Star Wars, whether Fisher is in a film or not. Also, if Disney works out a deal with Fisher’s estate, memorabilia featuring Princess Leia will likely continue to create demand and value for years to come.