Discussing Disney’s Marketing of ‘Star Wars’


Oh “Star Wars,” how I love to talk about you and all your ridiculousness. Let me start off by saying that I’m a fan of the original “Star Wars” trilogy, but I also find the movies to be poor in both production value and storytelling. The critic in me wants to hate them, but the movie lover in me really doesn’t care. With the return or the franchise just two weeks (two freaking weeks!) away, it’s time to talk about what everyone else is talking about; the lack of, well, everything.

To do that conversation right I’ve enlisted the help of my good friend Ruth Ronnau. Ruth is a fellow writer and an avid “Star Wars” fan. And she doesn’t hold back when it comes to talking about the franchise.

Ruth: The marketing campaign surrounding the new “Star Wars” film has been very careful so far. Disney and JJ Abrams understand that the film is highly anticipated, but also that if they were to reveal too much surrounding the new characters or the film’s plot, there could potentially be some backlash from fans even before the film’s release, which could potentially affect the film’s sales.

Steph: Disney’s marketing of “The Force Awakens” has been so bizarre to fans, and yet, it makes total sense. We’re frustrated that we literally have no idea what the new movie will be about, but what’s wrong with that? I mean, let’s look at Disney’s efforts closely here. They’ve been giving us tiny pieces to put together for the past three years. There’s the release of ambiguous posters, ambiguous appearances from the cast and JJ Abrams at Comic-Con, and ambiguous interviews from new and old cast members. Hello! They’re sending Harrison Ford, a stone-cold ninja to do GMA and “The Tonight Show” because it guarantees that no actual information will be spilled about the movie from his stubborn, tight lips.

Han Solo trickery aside, Disney is creating what is sure to be a one-of-a-kind movie experience for us. Think about it! When was the last time you went to the theater to see a film without knowing a lot about it? Or at least not knowing all the funny, exciting parts already from what you saw in the trailer? The answer may just be “never.”

The last time I was this excited to see a movie was nearly five years ago when the final “Harry Potter” film came out. And I knew exactly what happened in that movie from reading the books. This time I know nothing. Fans can theorize all they want and read all the intricate universe books that are out there to try and guess the plot, but I’m good with walking into the theater at the midnight premiere (That’s the night of my 23rd birthday!) and not knowing anything.

Ruth: But they also understand, that “Star Wars” fan’s have been anticipating this film for the better part of a year, and the loyalty of the fans–through all of the prequels, means that the fans are likely not going anywhere any time soon.

By creating this air mystery surrounding the film, while also making the main characters seem accessible–having them in interviews, posting videos of their reactions to the film’s trailers online, it is creating more intrigue and hype for the film. Especially since the “Star Wars” franchise is now owned by Disney, whose expertise lies in merchandise, the excitement surrounding the film is at an all time high.

By making “Star Wars” merchandise available essentially anywhere–but specifically with Target–“Star Wars” has become cool again after the disastrous prequels, which left fans simply wanting more. Now, though, “Star Wars” is everywhere, and everyone can buy reasonably priced merchandise with designs from the original trilogy, as well as characters from the upcoming film.

There are other issues surrounding plot, as the “Star Wars” Extended Universe has gotten quite large since seemingly end of the “Star Wars” films, and it will come into question whether JJ Abrams has used any of the material created from that Universe in his new one. On the one hand, if he uses any of that material, fans could potentially feel alienated and slighted if they don’t read “Star Wars” books. But if the storyline doesn’t exactly follow those of the books he says he is adapting, fans will be extraordinarily disappointed.

Since Abrams has come out and said that the films have no relation to the Extended Universe, there has been a lot of speculation as to who two of the characters are–as their last names haven’t been released yet. Both Finn and Rey’s last names have not been unveiled because they reveal a great deal about their characters, and potentially the plot of the films.

Steph: Of course, we do know a lot about “Star Wars” in general already. That helps the fan know a little about what to expect. We know there will be a Luke, a Han, and some droids. We know there will be the dark side and the light. We know there will be cool battles and ships flying around in space. Disney figures that’s enough for us to know. And in a lot of ways it is. Because that’s why we call ourselves “Star Wars” fans in the first place. It’s that blind faith that aliens and lightsabers and a barely visible plot make for the greatest film franchise of all time.

The sheer ridiculousness around Disney’s rules about having the cast sign contracts swearing them to secrecy and the holding of information about the film goes right along with the general ridiculousness that is “Star Wars.” Any other franchise doing this type of act and people would not put up with it. But “Star Wars?” We pretty much just expect it. If we can believe that Luke kissed his sister, we can accept that JJ and gang are doing something great.

Ruth: When I heard there was going to be another “Star Wars” movie, my heart nearly burst for joy. I grew up watching the “Star Wars” films, playing with “Star Wars” action figures, fighting my cousins with lightsabers. So while the marketing campaign is over-the-top and in your face, it’s extremely effective. I have literally never been more excited for anything in my entire life, because “Star Wars” is everywhere, and this isn’t the ending this time. This is the beginning.


Want to learn more about TV/film lover and writer Ruth? Check out her website!


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