Thursday, February 23, 2017

Star Wars Sales Retreat In January; Marvel Has a Plan

The Comics Chronicles released the January 2017 estimated sales on Monday.  The top selling book was Marvel's U.S.Avengers #1 which had the benefit of 54 state variant covers but still only managed to ship an estimated 110,729 units.  This was followed by DC's Batman #14 and 15 in 2nd and 3rd place which both also saw units of over 100,000 copies.  Everything else shipped less than 100,000 units.  Star Wars #27 was Marvel's 2nd best selling ongoing title, not including #1 issues, behind Amazing Spider-Man #23.  January's chart is notable because Marvel over-shipped their entire line by 10%.  This means U.S.Avengers took the top spot for units distributed, but only because of the over-shipping.

TitleIssueMonthly RankEstimated SalesLast Estimated SalesPercent Change
Star Wars27772,331104,563-30.83%
Doctor Aphra33148,59261,417-20.88%
Poe Dameron105640,09138,839+3.22%

Last month, I corrected the mistake I made explaining that Star Wars #26 increased sales due to it being the first arc starring Yoda.  That is made very clear in January with the units shipped slipping by over 32,000 and that is with a 10% overage.  10% is not insignificant, so approximately 66,000 copies were ordered by retailers and the other 6,000+ copies were given to retailers free by Marvel.  Star Wars #25 had estimated sales of 75,234 units.  Clearly Marvel's over-shipment program is intended to hide the declining numbers as the Star Wars title shed approximately 9,000 units in 2 months.

Unfortunately, things do not look better for the Doctor Aphra title which saw a decline of almost 13,000 units.  With the 10% over-shipping, approximately 44,000 copies were ordered by retailers, meaning Doctor Aphra saw orders slip by approximately 17,400 units from December.  Doctor Aphra replaced the Darth Vader title and Darth Vader #24 sold approximately 75,401 units.  This means Doctor Aphra is under-performing the Darth Vader title significantly.  In fact, Doctor Aphra #3 is under-performing every Star Wars title's 3rd issue, ongoing or mini-series, except for The Force Awakens #3.  It is a good bet this was not Marvel's intent when they replace Darth Vader with this title and I will be surprised if this title sees more than 12 issues.

The one bright spot is the Poe Dameron title, which saw over 1,000 more units ship in January over December.  Granted, if it was not for the 10% overage, the title would have ship just over 36,000 units which would have actually be a decline from month-to-month, but a much smaller decline than the other two Star Wars ongoing titles.

In February the Darth Maul 5-part mini-series began and in April we will get the first issue of the Rogue One movie adaptation.  Marvel is wisely using a crossover event in May to boost sales.  That month, the Star Wars and Doctor Aphra crossover event, The Screaming Citadel, begins.  Like Vader Down, this crossover should provide a much needed boost to both these ongoing titles.

There is much consternation over Marvel's declining sales.  Their over-shipment program the past 2 months has effectively glossed over the problem and if these 2 months prove to be a blip for Marvel, that would be great.  While it is nice to see Marvel send out copies of their comics for free to retailers, I hope the gesture is not in vain and these extra copies result in increased readership across their line.

The following table shows the total number of Star Wars units sold per month since January 2015 along with the average number of sales per issue.

Month/YearTotal Estimated Sales# IssuesAverage Sale per Issue
January 2015985,9761985,976
February 2015526,4513175,484
March 2015596,2994149,075
April 2015537,8124134,453
May 2015324,8353108,278
June 2015396,931499,232
July 2015597,0235119,404
August 2015430,241586,048
September 2015551,8805110,376
October 2015953,2891095,329
November 20151,003,9548125,494
December 2015507,545684,591
January 2016465,698593,139
February 2016288,355472,088
March 2016355,554571,110
April 2016533,9765106,795
May 2016299,189474,797
June 2016545,833690,972
July 2016359,166571,833
August 2016322,499564,500
September 2016174,420358,140
October 2016339,778567,956
November 2016269,975553,995
December 2016303,886475,972
January 2017161,014353,671

The average sale per issue of 53,671 would rank 27th on the top 300 chart for the month of January.  Star Wars trade paperbacks, reprint titles, and reorders are not accounted for with these numbers.  The Star Wars trade paperbacks are strong sellers.

Take a look at the Star Wars Sales Estimate Chart and please read the blog posting January 2017 comics sales estimates online; overships visible in charts (without affecting much) .

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