Disney continues to grow the Star Wars marketing galaxy as the release date of the year’s most anticipated film nears. The conglomerate recently revealed that a Han Solo and Darth Vader spin off will be hitting theaters in 2017. Star Wars fans around the world are rejoicing, not only as they await the release of the film, but the ever so exciting marketing and memorabilia. According to Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at box-office monitor Rentrak, “Countless fans around the world are in a constant state of vigilance waiting for the release of new poster art, new trailers and other tidbits and information.” Mr. Dergarabedian also notes that, “It’s hard to imagine any other movie franchise that could evoke a level of passion, enthusiasm and excitement.”
Prior to the excitement of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the most recent craze revolved around the purchase of Lucasfilm from the film’s original mastermind, George Lucas. In 2012, Disney Studios acquired the Star Wars production company for a mere $4 billion. The transaction was quickly followed by the announcement of three more films, VII, VIII, and IX, as well as spin-off movies. For instance, details of the second spin-off film have recently made headlines and will be an “origins story” about Han Solo released in May 2018.
It is clear that Lucasfilm-Disney is following in the footsteps of another extremely successful franchise, Marvel Studios, whose multiple story lines and many characters has allowed for the seamless expansion of its marketing galaxy. Disney has not skipped a beat with it’s decision to make all six existing Star Wars films available to watch on a variety of streaming services in order to hype up fans. As Dergarabedian says, this move is “a brilliant way to stoke the fires and build the anticipation for the new film and reinvigorate the idea of Star Wars in the minds of the fans.”
For the Star Wars franchise, the amount of constant and extraordinary fanaticism has naturally led to the marketing frenzy of books, comics, video games, merchandising, and a plethora of others that Lucasfilm has licensed. It was during the creation and expansion of the Internet in the 1990s that ultimately gave Star Wars and its fandom a platform. In 1997, a Star Wars “fan film” called Troops was created as a reality-TV parody, and since then, roleplay and fan presence show no signs of stopping. For example, an event-cinema production called Secret Cinema in the UK has found great success in their live assembly of The Empire Strikes Back. Michael Rosser, news editor for Screen International believes “the great thing about the original films was that they created a huge universe of characters and possibility that sparked the imagination of viewers.”
With the upcoming arrival of Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes anticipation for enormous sales when the film hits theaters in December. Dergarabedian cites that “we are certainly looking at a record opening for December, and should go on to make at least a billion dollars worldwide. Truly, Star Wars is the ultimate movie brand.” Let the marketing ensue!