'Star Wars' could drive the Dow to 20,000

Use the force, Dow?

While stock investors generally concentrate on the S&P 500, the Dow Jones industrial average's flirtations with breaking the 20,000 level for the first time ever has focused fresh attention on the 30-stock index.

And though it may sound strange, the newest "Star Wars" movie could help rocket it there.

After all, "Rogue One," which is technically being released on Friday, could help spur Dow component Walt Disney. The stock has been a serious laggard this year, actually dropping a bit in 2016 while the index has risen 14 percent. Huge box-office numbers could help the entertainment giant get its mojo back and could ease some concerns about the company.

"For Disney, 'Rogue One' will test whether Star Wars was a flash in the pan reboot success or a franchise that will have lasting appeal," Barton Crockett, who covers Disney for FBR Capital Markets, wrote to CNBC on Thursday. "Lasting appeal is crucial, because the argument for Star Wars upside is that this is a high-margin annuity in perpetuity, not just a lumpy hit-and-miss series."

"Fortunately, it looks like the movie will work," Crockett added. He points out that even if "Rogue One" manages to take in 55 percent of what the 2015 "The Force Awakens" did, it would still be the biggest movie of the year.

Still, to hope for Dow 20,000 off of Disney alone would be a stretch. That would require the stock, which closed Thursday trading at $104.39, to soar about $22.

"If it's just coming from Disney, then Disney needs a big lift up — way more than Wall Street's expecting," Erin Gibbs, equity chief investment officer at S&P Global, said Thursday on CNBC's "Trading Nation."

In order to see a big enough move "come from just one movie, that movie's income needs to be about 30 to 40 percent more than what we're expecting, so that's a big surprise and I don't really see this happening," Gibbs said.

Or, as Yoda might say to those waiting for the 20,000 milestone: "Patience you must have."


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Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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