Force Friday II Announced For ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ – Forbes

Disney and Lucasfilm

As the headline says, Disney and Lucasfilm just announced plans for a sequel to their big Star Wars merchandising launch. As you may recall, they did something they called Force Friday in September of 2015 as a kickoff to the official merchandising campaign for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. At midnight on Sept. 5, 2015, the stores around the world opened their doors and Star Wars fans participated in a kind of “Super Toy Run” to grab new Star Wars stuff related to the new movie. And now, with The Last Jedi arriving in theaters on Dec. 15, 2017, Walt Disney and the related licensing partners are doing it again on Sept. 1, 2017.

I have enclosed the press release below, as well as an short interview with Marty Brochstein, SVP of Industry Relations and Information for the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association (LIMA). This weekend kicks off this year’s American International Toy Fair in New York City, which is exactly what it sounds like, so I will try to have the rest of the chat ready for Friday morning.

But in the meantime, the big thing worth mentioning is that Disney will be in a position to actively market not just general Star Wars merchandise but also products explicitly showcasing the lead characters (Rey, Finn, Poe, Kylo, etc.) from The Force Awakens.

As you recall, J.J. Abrams’ sequel was shrouded in mystery right up to the release date, to the point where they hid the very fact that its ultimate hero was not John Boyega’s Finn but Daisy Ridley’s Rey (a point which caused at least some of the “Where’s Rey” controversy in regards to a lack of Rey-centric offerings). Whether the plot of The Last Jedi is shrouded in equal mystery, they don’t have to hide the core characters this time around.

We shouldn’t automatically expect the merchandise to quite be as big of a deal as last time, and the same goes for the movie’s financial reception since it was the first new Star Wars movie in 10 years and the first non-prequel since 1983. But The Last Jedi will have the advantage of not just being a part of an incredibly popular franchise but also the follow-up to a much-liked predecessor with exceptionally popular new characters. Anyway, that’s enough from me. Please enjoy the brief interview with Mr. Brochstein and the official press release. And may the Force be with you and all that.

force-friday-ii-logo_final-1Scott Mendelson: What made the original Force Friday such a big deal for your industry?

Marty Brochstein: Just the fact of there being a Star Wars movie focused everybody’s attention to begin with. Then when Disney came out of the box with Force Friday about 10 or 12 weeks before the movie even was going on screen, that was pretty revolutionary. Normally, toys and other things go on the shelf maybe four or five, maybe six, weeks ahead of the movie. This was two and a half to three months.

That was extraordinary and what that did for them was it: (1) got a big PR blitz, (2) it focused people’s attention on it and (3) it really appealed. If you looked at what was being merchandised in those early days right after Force Friday, it was more about the classic Star Wars collector biz than it was toward things that were specifically attached to The Force Awakens.

You’re appealing to the collectors and the classic Star Wars fans, and then as you get closer to holiday, you started filtering in a lot more merchandise that was very much tied to The Force Awakens. I don’t know specifically what they’re going to do with this one. It’s a similar time frame, but to expect it to do the kind of jump that the first Force Friday did, I think would be unrealistic. Because, you know, Star Wars hasn’t been absent from the screens for as long.

Mendelson:    I would imagine, this time they have something of an advantage in that they’re going to be able to sell, not just the classic stuff, but the characters specific to The Force Awakens. When Force Friday happened two years ago, no one knew anything about the plot and there was just bare minimum about the characters. Now they’re selling the new mythology, and I’m assuming that they’re hoping to get new fans that became fans because of The Force Awakens.

Brochstein:   Oh, absolutely. I think there are going to be so many levels of fans here that it’s apparent that there are going to be some that they picked up along the way. You have those who go back who are like me who were there when the first Star Wars movie launched back in 1977. You have those who picked it up over time who are now millennials in their own right.

You also have a new generation of kids who picked up from The Force Awakens, and who were exposed to Star Wars really on screen for the first time. Rogue One was a darker story aimed maybe at a higher age range. I’m not totally sure what the expectations are for The Last Jedi, but I think that’s more back in the sweet spot. There definitely are lots of different audience segments that they’ll be trying to appeal to on this one.

Mendelson:   I assume I can take it on your word that they’ll be a bit more upfront about marketing the female characters this time around?

Brochstein:   Here’s what I’ll say to that. Disney is a very smart company. Like all of us, they are always learning from their life experiences.

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And now the official press release:

STAR WARS FORCE FRIDAY II FLIES INTO STORES AROUND THE GLOBE ON SEPTEMBER 1, 2017

Countdown begins for world-wide release of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” products

New product packaging revealed today features trio of heroes: Poe, Rey and Finn

Glendale, Calif. (February 16, 2017) – Disney and Lucasfilm today announced Star Wars Force Friday II, a global fan event celebrating the launch of new products inspired by the highly anticipated “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Toys, collectibles, books, apparel and more will go on sale beginning at 12:01 a.m. on September 1, 2017, with stores around the world opening for a weekend-long celebration of all things Star Wars.

The first Star Wars Force Friday event was truly unique, uniting fans across five continents in an unprecedented global live unboxing event ahead of thousands of midnight openings at retail,” says Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. “We’re excited to confirm that Star Wars Force Friday is back for ‘The Last Jedi’. Plans for this year’s world-wide event are top secret but expect something befitting the excitement around the next episode of the Star Wars saga.”

Star Wars fans around the globe embraced Force Friday in 2015, with hundreds of thousands turning up to stores at midnight to be the first to get their hands on merchandise from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Toys from the new line were revealed via a global live-stream unboxing event that unfolded over 18 hours, 15 different cities and 12 countries, attracting millions of views on YouTube. Fans took to social media to share their experiences with nearly 3 billion Twitter impressions about the events, using #ForceFriday.

Jill Wilfert, Vice President of global licensing and entertainment from The LEGO Group comments, “It was so much fun to be a part of Star Wars Force Friday, and we can’t wait for fans to join this year’s celebration as we reveal new ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ products during Force Friday II – a global event that will connect fans and families, and allow them to build, create and share their experiences with others.”

Details of how fans can participate will be revealed closer to the event but the world-wide launch will tap new technology and Star Wars mythology to create a unique experience for fans. Just like 2015, products for “The Last Jedi” will be kept under wraps until Force Friday II to preserve surprises for fans. As well as introducing new characters from the movie in toy form, the line will build on the success of products like Sphero’s BB-8, introducing more innovative technology to bring the characters and stories from the film to life in unique ways.

“Toys play a unique role in the Star Wars universe, and we’re proud to have been part of that incredible legacy for the past forty years. The new line for ‘The Last Jedi’ is our most innovative yet, and we’re excited to unveil it on Force Friday II,” said Samantha Lomow, Senior Vice President at Hasbro.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is the highest grossing movie of all time domestically and that success was mirrored at retail. NPD[1] reported that Star Wars was the number one toy property in the U.S. for 2016 and 2015, and that during the week of Force Friday, $1 for every $11 spent on toys was on a Star Wars item. Additionally, the popularity of the movie propelled Star Wars onto the top ten toy list for both boys and girls for the first time ever in 2015[2].

Also being revealed today is a first look at packaging for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” products which feature leading heroes: Poe Dameron, Rey and Finn. The trio will be featured on Star Wars packaging beginning September 1, 2017.

Fans can stay tuned to StarWars.com for more details on Force Friday II events, and can follow the conversation on social using #ForceFridayII.

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