Star Wars made history last Friday as the first global marketing event for film merchandise set a scary precedent.
George Lucas didn’t make much at all off the original Star Wars film, he gave the profits to the produces and companies that worked on the film. Instead, Lucas managed to gain the merchandising rights for the entire film, this lead to him making millions from every line of action figures, lunch boxes and luxury Jabba the Hutt sleeping bags. It looks like Disney took a leaf from Lucus’ book last Friday with their global marketing event for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Across the world, stores opened at midnight to allow fans to run in and grab millions of pounds worth of merchandise for a film no one has actually seen yet. That’s a little scary when you think about it.
The event was a resounding success with many items selling out, including the interactive BB-8 droid which I think every Star Wars fan wants, including me. But I haven’t seen the film yet. I’ve fallen in love with the design of BB-8 and all I’ve seen of it is are two trailers where it’s rolling away from some trouble. The same goes for new characters like Kylo Renn, Rey and Finn. I don’t know anything about them but the general feeling is that me and every other Star Wars fan is meant to have already fallen in love with them. This feeling has been created, bottled and poured into the pop culture community’s open mouths with a simple bit of exploitation of our collective nostalgia.
I want to warn everyone whose getting pumped up for Star Wars: The Force Awakens to take the marketing with a pinch of salt because there is a chance, however small, that this film could be like the prequels. Consider the prequels for a second, can you point to any of those three films and claim that they are worse than he first Iron Man movie? Of course not. Each of the prequels had a fantastic cast with some interesting dialog and the best fight scenes in the entire saga yet the collective hive mind of pop culture hates the prequels. Because the prequels aren’t Star Wars.
What do you think of when you think of the original Star Wars films? Pulse pounding space battle? Wrong, the original space battles were really quite dry with only a maximum of six fighters on screen at any one time. Intense lightsaber fights? Nope, in the original fight between Obi-Wan and Vader Obi-Wan is more rigid than Han Solo in carbonite. How about wanting to be a Jedi, grabbing two rolls of wrapping paper and duelling with your dad? That’s probably more like it. Abrahams knows this, which is why he is trying to bring back those feelings and that not a bad thing, but it could fall flat. However, there is a solution.
Don’t bother with the new merchandising, it’s really not a good idea to encourage Disney with this or we will start getting weekly ‘merchandise Mondays’ leaving the pop culture community broke and worn out. Instead, wait until you see the film, go into it as a child. Put your cynicism into a draw somewhere in your head and just be ready to be amazed, excited and wowed. Also have a little bit of money saved up then the minute you get out of the film go to your local toy/video game/comic book store and go absolutely bananas. Get your mates together and play with some action figures, build a Lego Millennium Falcon and argue over who gets to drive it. Get in touch with the force, not because of hype or marketing but because you want to.